We can hardly remember what we were doing last Friday, much less a decade ago. But if we'd been standing -- no, living eating breathing camping existing -- in the line for "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," we'd probably remember. With a tear in the corner of the eye.
That's because what went down outside the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and the Mann in Westwood was an entirely new phenomenon. Sure, fans had stood in line for movie tickets before -- hence the term "blockbuster," queues snaking around blocks, etc. -- but rarely for more than a few hours, and almost never for more than a day or two.
The "Star Wars" fans, however, were so stoked that they moved into line a full 42 days before "Phantom Menace" debuted on May 19, 1999. Some were doing it for charity, some for the love of the camaraderie, some because it gave them a chance to talk about Jabba and Anakin and Yoda around the clock for over a month. Rain, fog, heckling drivers-by mattered not. The Force was strong with those ones. They were as solid as an asteroid, though much less mobile.
And what followed the fans setting up shop on the sidewalks was as memorable: news crews sticking microphones in the faces of wide-eyed Boba buffs, documentary makers showing up to hand out candy, tents along Hollywood Boulevard, nighttime light saber fights, lifelong friendships, and vows to do it again for future "Star Wars" flicks. Touching.
Happy May 19, 'droids and Wookiees!