We should most likely start a post series titled Chris Wyman is Everywhere. You can find Chris posting on TFN, posting on Rebelscum, talking the EU on the Jedi Journals podcast, and collecting just about every possible Star Wars autograph out there. And as for his thoughts on The Phantom Menace...
In May of 1999, I was a little more than just excited about the fact that we were getting new Star Wars. I was reading the books & comics, checking out the trailers and watching the original trilogy in anticipation along with the rest of the world. I didn't have a lot of friends that were into Star Wars at that time, so I was kind of on my own with the whole fandom deal. What youíre about to read is a detailed account of what took place just days before and leading right up to the premiere.
It was two days before the big opening night and I was off from work and home relaxing. I turned on the radio that morning and heard that my favorite station was giving away a pair of tickets to the midnight premiere every hour on the hour until 11:00pm that night if you were the 10th caller. Back then, I had two land lines, so from 9:00am on, I had the station's number on speed dial and called each time I heard the Star Wars music and sounds trying to win tickets using both phones. I was caller #1...#9...#2...#5...#7...and most times, I just got the busy signal. Each hour past and I thought surely one of these times I was bound to win. Of course, all of this time I was putting into winning tickets was actually distracting me from the anticipation of the movie! It was 5:00pm and I almost decided to give up and call it a day, but I kept on calling with both phones at 6:00pm, 7:00pm, 8:00pm, 9:00pm and then 10:00pm. I was so tired and totally ready for sleep. I knew there was one last chance to win a pair of tickets, so I waited one more hour. At 11:00pm, the sound of Darth Vader's breath and the hiss of a lightsaber blade igniting sang its beautiful song on the radio and I hit the dial buttons on both phones. It all happened in a flash and much quicker than I anticipated. One minute, I was listening to the ringing sound in the phone and the next...one of the phones died! Apparently, if you use your wireless phone all day long, it dies (who knew?). I threw the dead phone back on the charger and kept going with the second one. I actually got through one time and even got someone to answer as I heard them say: "Congratulations...you are caller number 10!" I almost hung up the phone as I had quickly done each of the other times I was told how close I was to winning, but not close enough. Finally, my completely wasted day had paid off and I was going to the midnight premiere of The Phantom Menace!
I called my father the next day and asked him if he'd like to go with me and he quickly agreed to do so. He then asked what time I was planning on getting in line. I'm pretty sure that he thought I was joking when I said 10:00am the morning before the actual movie was going to show. After I repeated myself, he realized I was not joking at all and knew there was no point in arguing the matter. After grabbing breakfast that next morning we were off to the theater arriving right at 10:00am. I walked up to a theater employee and asked him where the line was for Star Wars. He looked at me, smiled and said "you're it.". I was elated! My father and I started the line for the new Star Wars film at one of the largest theaters in the state of Florida. I planted myself against the far wall and began the long wait while my father strolled off to find a magazine or newspaper to help pass the time. About three minutes after we arrived, I saw another group of people approach the same employee that I had spoken to. I figured they were probably asking about "the line" and my assumptions were confirmed when he turned to me and pointed saying "right there.". Wow! Had we arrived just a few minutes later, my father and I would have easily been fifth or sixth in line instead of first and second. Not that big of a deal really, but certainly some cool bragging rights. We waited in line for 14 hours and had a blast talking with other fans, playing board games and hanging out with everyone. I so miss those days when it wasn't all about the electronics (cell phones, iPads, etc.) and people actually talked to one another and weren't buried in their own little world.
The hours passed and it neared 12:01am. The anticipation was building, the Force was strong and I was starving! In all the excitement, I was so wrapped up in what was going on, I had forgotten to eat dinner. I quickly ran and grabbed some food before the previews began and all was well. Sitting next to my father and seeing the new Star Wars movie meant a lot to me then and it still does to this day. We have probably only seen about ten movies together in the theater ever, so this being one of them was very special. Some of the scenes that jumped out to me were the Podracing, the Battle of Naboo and of course, the chill inflicting Duel of the Fates. We both thoroughly enjoyed the film and continued chatting about what we'd just seen on the drive home. Over the course of the next few weeks, I would go back and see it again several times enjoying it a little more each viewing as I spotted new characters, ships and locations. I never once bought into the negative attitude towards the film or to George himself. It was new Star Wars plain and simple and that was plenty enough for me to appreciate.
Fast forward 13 years and this film is now back in theaters and in 3D no less! How fantastic that yet another generation will get to see these films on the big screen. I think of all the people that never got to see Star Wars films like this or the people that havenít been born yet that will also never have the chance. We truly are the lucky ones.
Thanks to Chris for his submission and for his continuing hard work within the fan community.
ForceCast Collector's Edition co-host Dan Curto rounds out our Episode I reflections with his thoughts in our final post. Where's Curto? He'll be right here when his post goes live on Thursday.