‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ packs New Main

By on December 20, 2017


Gabby Melo, 10, from Ephrata, a fourth grader at Lititz Mennonite, strikes a pose at the new Star Wars movie at the Ephrata Main. (Photos by Missi Mortimer)

Light saber in hand, nine-year-old Gabby Melo struck a pose in front of the Star Wars poster in the lobby of Ephrata’s New Main Theater Thursday evening.

Dressed as her favorite character, Rey, Gabby and her dad, Gil Melo of Ephrata, were psyched for the first night of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which debuted across the country last week.

They were not alone.

It was a good week to buy stock in popcorn, as Star Wars fans arrived in “force” nationwide, waiting in long lines and filling theaters, eager to once again enter the story of a galaxy far, far away.

Action, adventure, and red herrings thrown in for good measure seem to be the recipe for success with the legendary “Star Wars” movies.

For Gabby, identifying with the Resistance hero led her to don a uniform like the one worn by Rey.

The Altemus family are big Star Wars fans. They are (left to right) Katie, Andre, Leo, Mindy, and Don.

“I really like her and I’ve seen all the Star Wars movies,” Gabby said. “I like all the action.”

The staff at The New Main Theater have been doing some selfless action of their own; donating their tips to cancer research for the Four Diamonds Fund.

Employee Simon Taylor credited co-worker Carol Baum with coming up with the idea a few months ago.

“We wanted to raise funds for a cause and it was Carol’s idea,” Taylor said. “Then we all jumped on the bandwagon.”

“We were thinking about what we could do with our tips and we all liked this idea,” said co-worker Jamie Chon.

The Four Diamonds was created in 1972 and supports childhood cancer research at Penn State Children’s Hospital at the Hershey Medical Center.

No word on how much money has been raised at this point or how long the staff will continue donating their tips.

While waiting for the film to begin, Melo said nostalgia is a part of the passion, as “The Empire Strikes Back” was the first movie he viewed on his own, sans parents.

“They were always ahead of their time,” Melo said of the films of the Star Wars phenomenon.

The production quality of the films is always top-notch, he added.

Gil and Gabby had been waiting patiently for the big night, and anticipated plot twists that pop up in every film.

“I don’t watch the trailers; I like to be surprised,” Melo said. “If anybody on Facebook tries to tell me what’s going to happen, they get unfriended.”

Husband and wife team Hailey and Nathan Imhoff of Akron were also dressed as their favorite characters – sort of.

The couple were taking part in a worldwide trend called “Disneybound,” when fans adopt some form of dress that resembles a certain character, but don’t call it a costume.

Hailey was wearing a stylized outfit depicting Rey, while Nathan was wearing brown colors to denote Chewbacca.

“You get into the character more and it lets you enjoy the character,” Hailey said of Disneybound.

While the couple said they like everything about Star Wars, they each had a favorite aspect.

The staff at The New Main Theater (left to right) were: Simon Taylor, Jamie Chon, Devin ZUnner (manager), and Chandler Eby. They donated their tips to cancer research for the Four Diamonds Fund.

“The droids are always fun,” Hailey said. “They also do a good job with character-building; you get sucked into it because you care about the characters. He’s into it more than I am, but I like the nerdy stuff, too.”

“I’m more of a gadget guy, so I like the ships,” Nathan said.

Back in the ’90s, Nathan had a number of Legos Star Wars ships, he said.

“I’ve been pretty stoked about this, probably since 2012 when Disney announced they were going to have a trilogy,” Nathan said. “It’s the classic good versus evil, and the relationships…everything in this movie is relatable, even though it’s in a galaxy far, far away.”

Wearing a shirt depicting Han Solo’s ship, the Millennium Falcon, Carter Palmer, 13, a student at Lancaster Mennonite High School, came to see The Last Jedi with his older brother, Toby, 15, and their dad, Scott Palmer.

“The Star Wars movies are always awesome and interesting,” Carter said. “I think this one will be different because of the plot line, from what I’ve seen on the trailer.”

The family are such big Star Wars fans that they made Christmas tree ornaments out of their movie tickets from the most recent film, Carter said.

Much of the appeal has to do with surprises thrown at the audience, Toby said.

“They’re all entertaining because you don’t know what’s going to happen next in a Star Wars film,” Toby said. “They keep a lot secret so you don’t really know what’s going to happen.”

Dad Scott Palmer liked the venue, too.

“We’re just excited to see what happens next,” Scott said. “And it’s a really nice theater; I’m glad my kids can see this in a traditional theater.”

Dan Marzec of Mohnton brought his wife and 13-year-old daughter to the film.

“My dad took me to the first Star Wars movie and now I’m taking my daughter, so, just the nostalgia makes it special,” Marzec said. “The whole concept of the films is that it’s something you know; it’s a memory from your childhood.”

Katie and Don Altemus of Thorndale in Chester County came to the Ephrata showing to meet friends, and brought kids Mindy, 7, Andre, 10, and Leo, 13.

“I was seven when I saw the first one; it was the first PG movie I was allowed to go to,” said Don Altemus. “I like the action and the fact that there’s always something that’s a surprise. With every story line, you never get what you expected to happen…and the sound tracks are pretty awesome, too.”

Andre confessed to being the biggest Star Wars fan in the family.

“They’re awesome and they’re dramatic,” Andre said. “The last movie was a cliffhanger and it was actually on a cliff.”

Katie Altemus was a Carrie Fisher fan, so the movie was going to be bittersweet for her, she said, as it was Fisher’s last Star Wars film before her death.

“I do love that it’s such a long story, that you get to know the characters well and that the story has continued for so many years,” Katie Altemus said.

Nicole and Raul Maldonado came from Richland to see the film.

“I’ve been waiting for this,” Raul Maldonado said. “This is a highlight of my holiday season. I own all the movies and what I really like are the characters, as well as the stories behind them.”

Allie McCray of Denver not only wore a “Star Wars” shirt for the movie’s premiere, but a necklace in the shape of an X-wing fighter jet.

“I own them all and they are all really good,” McCray said of the film anthology. “I like the action, the adventure; all the cool stuff. I also like the idea of the scientific stuff, because it may be fiction now, but it could be real in the future.”

David Cruz of Ephrata also owns all the Star Wars movies and hopes more will come.

“I want to know what Lucas is going to do with the series,” Cruz said. “This could be the last one, so that’s really the big question.”

Juan Mentzer, also of Ephrata, said rumor has it there’s at least two more Star Wars movies in the pipeline.

Mentzer grieved when writers in the last film appeared to kill off Han Solo, one of his favorite characters.

“But did he really?” asked Cruz, saying the film kind of left Solo’s demise open to question.

“How the last movie ended, all the Jedi are gone, but you have one remaining, and she’s just trying to figure out her purpose…there’s a lot going on,” Mentzer said.

Contacted after the show, Nicole Maldonado said she and her husband, Raul, a serious Star Wars fan, were very pleased with the movie.

“There were shockers, that’s for sure,” Maldonado said. “We loved it, very much, actually, and my husband absolutely enjoyed it. There were definitely some unexpected things going on. We’re pretty sure, after seeing this one, that there will be future Star Wars movies and we’re happy about that.”

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