Countdown To Star Wars Blast Off

A young boy dressed as 'Yoda' sits on the shoulders of a man as he watches events in Leicester Square in London and joins in with the premier launch of the film 'Star Wars Episode III.' AP

Russ Rolle and his friends have been taking turns since May 8 saving a spot along a busy street so they could get choice seats for the opening of "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith."

"This is a big event for all of us," the 23-year-old student said Wednesday outside one of the largest theaters in Southern California.

Rolle's wristband identified him as No. 7 in line for one of the 1,200 seats in the theater for the sold-out 12:01 a.m. Thursday show. He was among two-dozen people holding places for friends and relatives.

Similar scenes played out around the country.

"Revenge of the Sith" completes George Lucas' prequel trilogy about the roots of Anakin Skywalker — and how he turned into the villainous Darth Vader.

CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker reports that Darth Vader succumbing to the dark side is expected to jumpstart Hollywood's flagging economy and drag it down everywhere else — when millions of workers, like Mark Rodriguez, skip work to see the final episode the first day.

"It's the last time," Rodriquez explained his work delinquency to Whitaker. "I have to do it. Have to. No question."

And such faithful fans might be in for a treat: People magazine's senior editor Jess Cagle, who's seen the movie, told CBS'Early Show Wednesday, "You can arguably say this is the best of the six.

"I think you could safely say that. I think the purists who love the first one, might argue that there was something more pure about those."

In Boston, the entire 16-person staff of a Web development intended to see the film in an outing paid for by the company — popcorn and soda included.

Seth Miller, the president and chief executive of Miller Systems Inc., said the tradition began with "Phantom Menace" in 1999. The tradition even comes up during job interviews, he said.

Many fans who couldn't bear the thought of a bad seat began camping out well in advance. At the Newport Beach theater, a second line formed Tuesday for the slightly less obsessed.

"You want to prove that you're a serious fan by being the first to watch it," said Luis Linares, a 34-year-old government worker.

Like others, Linares and Rolle passed the time watching portable DVDs, reading and chatting with friends and fellow fans, some of whom dressed in "Star Wars" costumes. Several said they've seen the movies more times than they can count.

"There's a real sense of community attached to it," Rolle said. "It's a time to be around people who are just like you."

The film is the first in the series to have a PG-13 rating. Cagle said it deserves it.

"I don't want to give a lot away, but people with kids should know there is a character that is burned very badly," he said. "That's graphic violence."

Even George Lucas, the creative force, urges caution, Whitaker reports.

"I think it's a good thing for parents to be warned, to think about this before sending your kids off," Lucas said.

Dede Vignali, the mother of three young Star Wars fans — even her 5-year-old, Bella, can't wait to see it — said the warning won't stop her from taking her children to the theater.

"I've heard there's violence in the movie, but you have to pick your battles, what you're going to bring your kids to see and I don't feel it's that bad," Vignali said.

Star Wars is one cultural phenomenon that, regardless of PG warnings, makes everyone feel young at heart. Don Trim, an accountant, got into the spirit by dressing in the khaki-colored tunic, leather boots and belt of a Jedi master.

  • Jaime Holguin

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