US cinema to reward fan who can endure Star Wars marathon

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens trailer screen Sith saber

Texan cinema set to challenge fans to sit through the entire space saga, followed by JJ Abrams’ new episode on repeat, until only one remains

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally opens in multiplexes later this month, more than a year after the film’s debut teaser trailer invited fans to return to a galaxy far, far away, there will inevitably be those who want to see the movie more than once. But one US cinema chain is hoping to take Star Wars hysteria to the dark side after launching a competition to find the saga’s all-time viewing champion, a filmgoer with such (presumably Force-aided) stamina that they can sit through all six previous episodes, followed by multiple back-to-back viewings of JJ Abrams’ new film.

The retina-straining challenge has been launched by the Alamo Drafthouse group in Austin, Texas, and will begin at 4am on 17 December, the morning before The Force Awakens hits US cinemas. Participants at the chain’s South Lamar site will be invited to “enjoy” The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005), followed by the sweet space relief of Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). Then, and only then, will they get to see The Force Awakens, with the winner being the stalwart capable of sitting through the new film on repeat for longer than any other competitor.

While food, drink and toilet breaks (plus, presumably, the odd Jedi mind trick) are all acceptable under the rules, the participants will be banned from using other methods to keep their eyes open. “Sleeping, illegal drugs and talking and texting during the movies (of course) will result in disqualification and a swift trip to the Sarlacc Pit,” states the cinema. “However, for those strong enough to persevere, intergalactic immortality awaits.”

It is understood seven “lucky” filmgoers will be given the chance to take part in the event, with interested parties invited to use the #AlamoJedi hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, along with a description and/or photographic evidence of their devotion to the Jedi cause. The winning participant will receive a seven-year movie pass to Alamo Drafthouse cinemas, a variety of Star Wars merchandise and a cinema seat named in their honour, complete with a naming ceremony.

In other Star Wars news, The Force Awakens’ co-writer Lawrence Kasdan has revealed the character of Captain Phasma, the chrome-plated villain played by British Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie in The Force Awakens, was originally written for a male actor. It appears the film-making team may have reacted to criticism of the first cast photo from Abrams’ film, released in April last year, after bloggers questioned why it featured just one female actor – British actor Daisy Ridley.

“We were just casting about for all the characters,” said Kasdan of the process. “I mean, we were making them up at that moment, as costuming and everything else was happening! It’s not like there was a finished script sitting around for months.

“Everything was happening simultaneously. When the idea came up to make Phasma female, it was instantaneous: Everyone just said, ‘Yes. That’s great.’”

Elsewhere, the British Board of Film Classification has confirmed that The Force Awakens will receive a 12A certificate in the UK, where it is due to open on 17 December. The rating, which means the film is considered suitable for those aged 12 and over, is the same as that of Revenge of the Sith – while all other Star Wars films have been rated U or PG. In the US, the film has been rated PG-13, suggesting it will be in line with mainstream blockbusters such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World and The Hunger Games franchise.

Powered by article was written by Ben Child, for on Tuesday 8th December 2015 11.17 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010