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Star Wars 1977

Douglass and Lissa Parker, of Corvallis, arrived an hour early for "Star Wars" in Corvallis to buy tickets for themselves and another couple Wednesday. But they were too late. To make matters worse, their friends were late and the Parkers had to wait around to break the bad news. Their plight was uncommon, though, as the huge crowds expected for the movie failed to materialize and a minority was turned away.

EDITOR'S NOTE: "Star Wars" opened nationwide on May 25, 1977, but didn't hit the mid-valley until Wednesday, June 29, greeting the already converted masses at the "Luxury" Ninth Street Cinema World (now the Regal 9) in Corvallis, though the Democrat-Herald, in its coverage, tried its best to play it cool.

Late arrivals may have found solace in the theater's other options, among them "Taxi Driver," "Logan's Run," "Electra-Glide in Blue," and a notorious Marie-France Pisier vehicle, "The Other Side of Midnight" released by 20th Century Fox as a fail-safe in case the wildly expensive "Star Wars" stiffed. (Spoiler: It did not.)

Those with more exotic palates were directed to the Santiam Drive-in for a "Slumber Party '57"/"Swinging Cheerleaders" double-feature. The latter starred Colleen Camp and zero Wookies. Don't ask me how I know that.

The following article ran in the Thursday, June 30, 1977, edition of the Albany Democrat-Herald.

CORVALLIS — "Star Wars" is such a good movie, apparently, people here are afraid to go see it.

Although there were two full houses Wednesday night at the heavily promoted science-fiction spectacular opened at the Ninth Street Cinema World, 1750 NW Ninth St., many mid-valley moviegoers apparently decided to wait until next week, to beat opening day crowds. The turnout was big, but nothing approaching crowds reported in other areas.

"We heard about the lines in Portland," said Tom Misa of Lebanon. "We didn't know if we'd get in."

At about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday — only an hour before the usually well-attended 7:30 p.m. show — Misa and three friends were among about 20 teenagers sitting in front of the theater.

No, they said, they hadn't camped out, though they did bring a picnic.

"We've been here about an hour and a half," said Steve Canaga of Lebanon. "We thought there'd be a rush," he said.

By 7 p.m. the line had stretched around the corner. Many people waiting said they were surprised that they were going to get in, after all.

Dan Bowman of Corvallis said he "didn't think we'd be able to get in tonight." His father, Paul, said one of Dan's friends "drove clear to Portland to see 'Star Wars.'"

Rick Corpron, manager of the theater, thinks the biggest crowds will turn out this weekend. Corpron beefed up his usual staff of ushers from eight to 18 to handle the expected crowds. All will be on hand over the weekend.

The doors of evening shows opened about 7:15, and the first major wave of ticket holders rolled in. At the ticket window a cashier was saying, "Yeah, there's only about 12 left. Do you mind sitting in front?"

At 7:30 about 80 persons were still standing outside. "It's sold out," said a blond young man, turning from the box office toward the parking lot. A few people left the line and followed him.

A few stayed and were rewarded, as a head count by ushers inside the theater revealed a few more isolated spots.

Soon, the first starship whizzed across the screen and viewers were swept along for two hours of intergalactic adventure. An attentive audience sat quietly, except for occasional bursts of laughter, cheers and even applause.

When it was over, 540 persons had seen the 7:30 show and another crowd had gathered for the final round, which Corpron said he expected to "sell out, easy."

The four who waited longest in line, caught after the show, agreed that it was "fantastic."

Said Canaga, "It was worth camping out."

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