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The Force is strong in Grand Haven

Alex Doty • Dec 19, 2015 at 8:00 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — After months of anticipation, hype and speculation, “Star Wars” fanatics finally got their chance to return to a “galaxy far, far away.”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” debuted Thursday evening, and movie-watchers showed up in force Thursday night and Friday to see the latest chapter of the sci-fi saga.

Patty Oltean of Spring Lake was at Grand Haven 9 on Friday, the first full day the movie was in theaters, to watch the new film.

“I am so excited, I can’t wait,” she said before going in.

A fan of the original movie trilogy, Oltean said she was 17 when the original “Star Wars” was released in theaters.

“The first ’Star Wars’ that came out was the first movie I’d seen six times in a row,” she said. “I just couldn’t get enough of it. I love Princess Leia, and I can’t wait to see her again.”

Oltean said she loves the fact that the new “Star Wars” movies include characters from the original trilogy.

“I want to catch up on their history,” she said. “I’m really excited to find out what happened and who all the new characters are.”

Brandon Hamstra said he got a jump on some vacation time by catching a matinee showing of the new movie.

“I am looking forward to it — it’s going to be a good movie,” the Grand Haven man said before going in. “I figured this was the best time to go — you don’t have to fight the crowds.”

Like countless other movie-goers around the world, Hamstra has been eagerly awaiting the new movie.

“Basically since they announced it,” he said. “Let’s admit it — it’s probably the biggest movie of the year.”

Hamstra said he was surprised at the number of people in attendance for a Friday morning screening.

“I thought it was going to be pretty empty out there, to be honest,” he said.

According to The Associated Press, the movie has set a box office record with an estimated $57 million from Thursday night shows.

The Walt Disney Co.'s estimate on Friday easily surpassed the previous Thursday night record of $43.5 million for 2011's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."

The movie's international rollout, which began Wednesday, has brought in a total of $72.7 million. That includes the biggest single day ever in the United Kingdom, where it made an estimated $14.4 million. 

The early figures suggest "The Force Awakens" is on course to exceed the record domestic opening of "Jurassic World," which debuted with $208.8 million in June.

“The Force Awakens” cost about $200 million to make, according to industry estimates.

Grand Haven 9 manager Dusten Van Zyll said he expects the film to continue to be extremely popular over the next 2-3 weeks.

“The opening yesterday was pretty good,” he said Friday. “Everyone that saw it last night was really, really into it. I actually saw people that saw it last night here today.”

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