Meet the 'Star Wars' Fans Lining Up in Hollywood 12 Days Before 'Force Awakens' Debuts

"I am a hiker so I had all of the gear, but the chance to sleep out on the ground in front of the TCL theater, you do not get that very often," said fan Caroline Ritter.
Courtesy of © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All rights reserved.

Outside the TCL Chinese Theater on Tuesday afternoon, Thor was talking to a stormtrooper, a Rebel fighter pilot took a picture with Spider-Man and people were already camping out for a Dec. 17 showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The organization Liningup.net will post-up outside the theater for 12 days (they started on Dec. 5) until the opening night 7p.m. screening. All the waiting isn't just for getting the first peek at the biggest cinematic event of the year; the organization has partnered with the Starlight Children's Foundation, a charity that works towards improving the life and health of hospitalized or terminally ill kids and families around the world, as a part of Starlight's new holiday campaign.

Liningup.net  is garnering donations through its website and a text message campaign during campers' tenure in front of the Chinese. It's the only theater where the group is amassing.

"This year, they encouraged us to come inside, so to say," explained Emily Christensen to THR on Tuesday afternoon. By 'inside' she means into the theater courtyard, where the Star Wars fans can sleep on top of the hand and foot imprints of many bygone A-listers.

Liningup.net first organized an early line for Star Wars: Episode 1 in 1999, and in '03 and '05 it organized similar gatherings for for Episode 2 and 3. At that point, organizers were standing on the sidewalk that ran along Hollywood Blvd.

"Every night at midnight [the police] put up barricades and they take them down at 6 a.m, so we can set up our tents here," Christensen continued. "As a matter of fact, the El Capitan wanted us to line up in front of them too. We chose this one, of course, for the history." (The original Star Wars debuted at the Chinese Theater in 1977.)

Liningup.net reserved 576 tickets for the early screening when they went on sale back in October. In order to get one these coveted tickets, fans must register with Liningup.net and accumulate 24 hours of "standing in line" time outside the Chinese, at which point a person is eligible to buy one of the reserved tickets directly from the organization.

Those who want the best seats available to watch J.J. Abrams' take on the iconic franchise must devote more time. "The longer you spend in line, the better privilege you have of picking out what seats you want. That is how we encourage people to stay out here," explained Christensen.

Someone who will get a primo spot at the Dec. 17 screening is Caroline Ritter, a woman who flew to Los Angeles from Australia to wait in line and has already logged 70 hours.

"I am a hiker, so I had all of the gear, but the chance to sleep out on the ground in front of the TCL theater, you do not get that very often," she said, while donning a khaki-colored bucket hat with a Darth Vader patch sewed onto it.

Those waiting in line for full days at a time will get the opportunity to shower at the H&H Hostel down the street. In addition, TCL lets participants use the theater restrooms.

When asked what part of the movie she is most excited to see, Ritter said: "Han Solo. That moment in the first trailer when he says 'Chewie, we're home.' I don't know how anyone kept a dry eye. I was like, oh my god this is going to be something special." 

Ritter, who first joined the organization in 2002 for a screening of Episode 2 at the Egyptian Theater just east of the Chinese on Hollywood Boulevard, continued: "I don't think I have ever met a bad Star Wars fan. Everyone wants to help, everyone wants to give back, everyone is accepting."

The line has brought people together in more ways than one, Christensen talked about a couple who met while waiting in line for the 2005 Star Wars release and later got married.

"Saturday when we started the line-up they came by and brought their kids," said Christensen. "They had a little five year old girl, who came dressed up in a Captain Phasma outfit."

Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters nationwide Dec. 18.

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