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The original Star Wars opened. Its release was limited to about 30 venues nationwide, including the Mann's Twin Cinema in Hicksville, Long Island. A few weeks later, my best friend Dennis and I rode our bikes over from East Meadow to see what the Force was all about. The rest, as they say, is history.

From five years ago:

It’s hard to remember a day when Star Wars wasn’t a towering cultural and marketing event, but on May 25, 1977, it was a smallish movie opening on a Wednesday in just 32 theaters.

There was no premiere.

PHOTOSTORIES_17_WEB

AP

Theater goers wait in lines in front of the Avco Center Theater in Los Angeles to see "Star Wars" in June 7, 1977.

“Theaters didn't want the movie. We were lucky to get thirty theaters to open it,” Charles Lippincott, former Lucasfilm promotions chief later said of the troubled and much-delayed production.

In New York, you could go see Star Wars at two theaters in Manhattan - the Loews Orpheum on East 86th St. and the Astor Plaza in Times Square - and on Long Island at the Mann Twin South in Hicksville. All three movie palaces have since been demolished.

Tickets were $4. Some viewers remember the box office handing out lapel buttons saying “May the Force be with You.”

It was June-something, days before our high school graduation, when we made the ride over. (Around that time, Mann Cinemas  became owners of the iconic Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, and had taken Sid's name off the marquee by the time I visited it with another East Meadow friend in the winter of 1979-80. I think we saw Empire Strikes Back there.)

The saga and I have always been traveling companions.  Return of the Jedi came out just before I spent a summer in England, and I wound up seeing it in a forgotten seaside cinema in 1983.  We were told then, sorry, three was it, and had no hope of either the forgettable prequels from the 99-oughts or the far better Return of the Series last year.  But I (and Eleanor, and Emily) saw all of them, mostly on or just after their release dates.

Now? The Force is everywhere. VIII and IX are real and conceived and ready to roll.  Rogue One, which we began re-watching tonight in honour of the 40th, gave us our first side-story and the immediate prequel to what Dennis and I saw 40 Junes ago. And there's a Solo project and a Boba Fett project and, yes, even Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money (or some other title).

The Force is strong with us.  Good, because we need It more than ever.

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