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The Sith In Guam

Editor's Note: Asia correspondent Mish'al Samman had been sad for weeks that Episode III wouldn't open in Japan until July. And then...

As May 19th drew closer, I took a couple of days off my schedule and flew three hours to the beautiful island of Guam to attend the Episode III opening at the Micronesia Mall in Guam.

The event started Wednesday evening at the Planet Hollywood ROTS premiere party at $40 a person with buffet and drinks, and promising the ultimate Star Wars trivia for the fans. After that, they all would head over to the Micronesia mall where 10 screens opened up for the premiere, and all were packed. A couple of radio stations were there to talk about the event, most notably Power98, and the Rock, which you could hear in every store there was in that mall giving updated every so often to tell people how long the lines were.

At 10:30pm the lines were obviously long, but not a moment went by without everyone talking, smiling and waving at friends in the other queue. It felt like there was something to talk about with anyone. The military folk behind me were all cut solid, and all macho looking to the point that one couldn’t believe they were arguing about if the princess looked better in the bun, pretzel, leaf tiara, or regular slave girl hairstyle.

Most entertaining of all, though, was the too-short-to-be-a-sith-lord Vader. I heard some in the crowd call the man by name, and say he was with the station, but one couldn’t quite place why the costume seemed off. Finally you realize the helmet was too big for the body suit on the 5'6" or 5'7" man. Greeting and pacing along with the radio guy, he said hello to all the people in costume, most notably a young boy in a clone trooper, and a boy in Jar Jar costume who with good spirits got cheers instead of hisses from the crowd for good sportsmanship reasons, I guess. Teenagers lighting up their sabers and playfully dueling, a makeshift Star Wars toy store and Skebe International Clone trooper T’s booth accompanied the fans to keep us all busy while waiting.

I tried to catch a glimpse of how many Japanese people made it to this screening, but not many had come. There was a group that did show up wearing their Celebration 3 T’s, and I asked them where they were from. Some came from Hokkaido, some from Tokyo, and they didn’t speak much English.

I asked them about their feelings towards the movie, and why weren’t there as many Japanese people as I expected (like over 100)? One said she thought that many don’t speak English too well, so they don’t want to spoil the movie, but she didn’t care much if she didn’t understand the movie completely, because it’s Star Wars! Another said, many Japanese just had Golden Week vacation (National Holiday in Japan) and most people spent a lot of money on that, so they can’t travel, especially on a workday. Some members of the 501st Japan said that both are factors, but ultimately the Japanese market will wait, and they will invest in the movie when it arrives July 9th.

11:00 arrived, and theater lines started to make their way into the screens. By 11:45 we were all seated, and the radio stations did a quick pass through all the theaters to give away costume prizes and trivia prizes. So for the last Star Wars movie premiere in the US, it was a blast. I got to see it before July, and I was a lucky winner of a trivia quiz, and got a T-shirt satisfying my quest to prove to myself… I love this franchise!

‘Till my next report on the ROTS Charity premiere in Japan, adios.

Mish'al Samman

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