Since June of 1977, people have waited on line for Star Wars films, solidifying the community of fans, becoming tradition, and bringing this important R2-D2 cooler into existence. In 1983, the original Star Wars trilogy wrapped up when The Return of the Jedi entered theaters, and fandom hit a fever pitch.
The first day shattered box office records, but at the time VP of Lucasfilm (and Brooklynite!) Sid Ganis said he was "cautiously optimistic... There's a long hot summer to go." But he was struck by the ''joyous'' attitude of those on line, the NY Times noted—he told them: ''They weren't drinking, weren't smoking dope. Women were wearing their hair braided the way Princess Leia does on the Ewok planet. Men were in Luke Skywalker black costumes. They were not just people going to the movies.'' And that remains true today.
Here's a look back at the line-waiters over the years:
The photo above, circa The Return of the Jedi (1983), was taken outside of Loews Astor Plaza in Times Square—this was New York's largest single-screen theater (it had 1,440 seats!) until it closed in 2004. The Best Buy Theater occupies that space now.