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Star Wars Fans Camp Outside LA Theatre Week Before Film Opens

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Obsessed Star Wars fans with sleeping bags and a portable film projector have started camping outside Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre. This comes about a week before the blockbuster begins playing.


Roughly 20 sci-fi lovers were in place on Thursday, seven days before the doors swing open for the first preview screening of the much-hyped, saga-concluding “The Rise of Skywalker.”


Organisers expect that number to swell to 150 in the coming days. Fans of all ages will travel from as far as the United Kingdom and Japan to see the film first at the iconic venue where the original “Star Wars” premiered in 1977.


“When Star Wars comes, you put everything on hold. It’s like having a baby,” said mega-fan Nicolas Johnson, waiting with his dog Cookie.


“I’m actually lucky that I’m able to work on the line,” added Shing Hwong. Hwong is a 39-year-old attorney from near San Francisco who brought her laptop down with her. “I’m sleeping here overnight. In the evening I just get to hang out with a lot of my friends, and talk and live Star Wars.”


The tight-knit community first began lining up outside Star Wars premieres two decades ago for 1999’s “The Phantom Menace.” Back then, they waited for 42 days on Hollywood Boulevard. Older and with more commitments now, they decided to trim that down for the latest film — particularly with this premiere taking place in winter.


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“I’ve got a sleeping bag. At night, I have to crawl in there and stay warm,” said organiser Erik Murillo, a 47-year-old computer technician from Las Vegas. “I tend to try to stay up at night, awake to watch over everyone else, so I sleep during the daytime.”


The group play with board games and LEGO sets, and use their projector to watch the old films and catch the latest episodes of Star Wars TV series “The Mandalorian.”


Murillo admits he is more excited about lining up than the film itself. He says he has already spoiled its plot by poring over every trailer, interview and fan rumour forum.


“Think of it as a slumber party with friends where everyone has the same interests,” said San Diego fashion photographer Justin Nunez, 31, who is on his first Star Wars line. Nunez has three pairs of long-johns, four sweaters and a sleeping bag for the chilly Los Angeles winter nights.


He hopes the group will get some relief on Monday when the glitzy, red-carpet world premiere takes place just yards away — in 2015, Disney invited them in. “I’m just happy it’s not raining,” he later added.


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