Stormtroopers and other Star Wars characters invaded a cinema which was among the first places in the galaxy to show the latest blockbuster movie.
The Odeon at Eagles Meadow Shopping centre in Wrexham was packed to rafters when The Last Jedi (Star Wars VIII) was shown at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning (December 14).
All five of the screens showing Star Wars at the Odeon were sold out for the premiere which was part of a double header with the previous Star Wars incarnation, The Force Awakens.
According to deputy manager, Kenny Kempster, they’re expecting it to break their box office record as the biggest movie of the year.
Costume designer Amy Gregory, 23, and MBNA Chester human resources manager, Paige Edwards, 23, both dressed up as Chewbacca.
Amy said: “We were going to really go for it and dress up in style but decided on Chewbacca outfits in the end. I love Star Wars, who doesn’t?
“All the films are ace, and I’ve seen them all. I just love anything out there in intergalactic space! And stories don’t come any better than Star Wars”
Paige added: “Star Wars are films you can lose yourself in. They aren’t too serious and they are always a really good tale. What’s not to like? We would have dressed up as Princess Leia but it was easier, and warmer, to wear Chewbacca outfits.”
Also among the first in the queue to see The Last Jedi was Wrexham Maelor Hospital ITU staff nurse Mat McLoughlin, 34, a self-confessed dedicated Star Wars fan.
Dressed in his Star Wars T-shirt he said: “I’ve seen every Star Wars film and just love them. It’s an escape from reality really and they are always really good stories. I have a stressful job and sometimes you need that bit of escapism.”
Mat’s friend, aircraft engineer Ryan Williams, 24, of Wrexham added: “Everyone has to see a new Star Wars film, they are iconic and magical. I’ve seen everyone and the latest ones I’ve seen on the opening night. It just has to be done.”
Dedicated Star Wars fan, engineer Chris Jones, 36, took along his partner Natalie Davies, 33, both of Ruabon.
Chris, who admits to being a huge Star Wars fan says Natalie had never seen a Star Wars film until she met him but now she’s also an avid fan.
He said: “I just love everything about Star Wars and always have. I went to see the last film, The Force Awakens, twice in one day. I’ll probably do the same with The Last Jedi to be perfectly honest.
“I’m very careful not to watch any trailers or spoilers on the internet or TV; I want to watch the whole film in one go. Star Wars films are special and I just love them and Natalie is right into them now too.”
Full time mum, Natalie Davies added: “I had no interest in Star Wars until I met Chris. He loves the films so much and he’s watched them hundreds of times. I suppose it’s a case of if you can’t beat them, join them!”
Kenny Kempster said: “Any Star wars film is a big event and The Last Jedi is no different. We sold every seat across all five screens and I’m sure this could go on to set new attendance records at Eagles Meadow.
“The audience for the first screenings were clearly dedicated Star Wars fans, real enthusiasts, and talking to some of them they have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the whole Star Wars story.
“All the staff dressed as characters and thoroughly enjoyed talking to our customers.”
He added: ““The Last Jedi carries on from where The Force Awakens ends with Rey beginning her training in the ways of the Force after finally discovering Luke Skywalker.”
Odeon Cinema host, Roxy Reed, 25, who hails from Essex but now lives in Wrexham after graduating from the town’s Glyndwr University with a degree in illustration and design, said the opening night of The Last Jedi had been exceptionally busy.
Dressed as Star Wars heroine, Rey, she said: “It’s been so busy and this is just the first night. We are expecting the weekend to equally busy and whilst many seats have already been sold, there are plenty of shows with good availability left.
“Talking to people waiting to go into the screening they are so knowledgeable about the films and everyone I spoke to was clearly a dedicated Star Wars fan.
“It’s been a lovely Atmosphere though and everyone was clearly very excited and couldn’t wait to see the film.”
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: “I’m delighted we had a very full cinema for the opening night of The Last Jedi and I’m sure the screens will be full for many weeks to come. It’s always nice to see the public enjoying a blockbusting film and they don’t come any bigger than Star Wars.
“I know the Odeon team work exceptionally hard to ensure gets to their seats in time to enjoy the film. It’s going to be a busy time for all the staff and for Eagles Meadow.”