May 25th was, of course, the release date for Star Wars. Among those who were reminiscing this week was one who posted a newspaper ad from his home town...which received the movie several months after opening. That got me thinking about seeing Star Wars for the first time. I've tried in the past to try to pin down, more or less, when I went to see it. With the help of the rabbit hole that is the internet plus myself and others' hazy memories, I thought I'd take another shot....
So the first thing to know is Kansas City actually had the movie playing on the day of release, May 25, 1977. Or rather, the KC suburb of Overland Park had it at the locally legendary Glenwood Theatre. I've seen conflicting reports about this - it is possible it opened a day late because of a benefit of some kind.
By the way, I'll be linking to various sites that don't have an embed option for photos, etc., and I'm not going to steal their thunder on some of the research or stories they share.
Now, I know we didn't see it opening day by a long shot. This was, at least in part, because the Glenwood was on the other side of the metro from us, and not exactly a place to easily drop by. What I didn't realize until...last night...was that the Glenwood had it EXCLUSIVELY for a year...and it ran for a year. Then there was this, which is amazing if true:
The Glenwood Theatre quickly became the most popular theatres in the Kansas City area, setting the world record for ‘Star Wars’ after making $1 million the first year of its release.
In any case, that helped pin things down a bit more. I should go ahead and say I haven't worked everything out completely, because some of my recollections and my parent's don't completely mesh. Not terribly surprising.
So, my memory says that we watched the The Making of Star Wars tv special the night before we went. I haven't seen it since. Thanks to the internet I can confirm it was this show:
I remember a few scenes vividly, and they check out here. I'm certain it is the first lasting impression of seeing R2 and C-3P0. I'm also certain I don't remember more because it gets into other movies and stories that weren't exactly riveting for my age at the time. I find it somewhat ironic that I saw a behind the scenes special before the movie, given my later writing career.
According to IMDB, it aired Friday September 16, 1977. Thanks to a journal, my parents could actually confirm that we watched the show. That means we would have gone the next day or possibly the day after. However, the same journal says nothing about seeing the movie then, or at all. This is mainly because for whatever reason, there was little written at in it during that time. We all remember that we had to wait a few hours for a later showing because it was sold out. I also seem to recall that they were selling T shirts and it was fall-like weather.
Now, there is a bit of a problem here. I also remember that Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind was running at the same time. I remember that the crowd was rediculously huge, with lines for both movies. The Glenwood only had 2 screens at the time, and the movies were there at the same time for 6 months (or so I've read). Well, Close Encounters came out in November which is rather later than September. My parents remember it was cold, and I (barely) do as well.
I'm thinking we actually went twice - once in September, and once in November or December - but we haven't been able to confirm it one way or the other. If not twice, it had be be after Close Encounters released, and I know it was before Christmas because that was when I received my first Star Wars T shirt. Guess I'll have to still work on it...
BTW, this page has a couple of local newspaper ads at the time.