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Star Wars Fans Flock To 'Sith'

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Jay Greene and his friends had a pact: When the sixth and final "Star Wars" movie came out — the one that brings the plot back around to George Lucas' original 1977 masterpiece — they'd be there, on opening night.

Like the legions of other fans who showed up for midnight showings of "Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," Greene, 26, was eager to see how the saga all came together.

"Regardless of knowing what's going to happen, you still get that excitement, and it's closure for you," he said early Thursday after emerging from, appropriately enough, the AMC Empire 25 Theatre in Times Square.

"What's incredible is seeing him (Anakin) finally become Darth Vader," added Ryan Smith, visiting from San Diego.

Sold-out showings of "Episode III," the final installment of the seminal science fiction series created by Lucas, drew enthusiastic crowds to theaters across the country — many dressed in full "Star Wars" regalia with Jedi light sabers at the ready.

"Lots of guys are going to be in there with light sabers. I have to be able to defend myself," a man told Dave Cohen of CBS radio affiliate WWL in New Orleans.

Both Greene and Smith described the excitement in the theater "like a party on opening night and that's why we're going back in."

Similar scenes played out nationwide ahead of the opening. People waiting for days and in some cases weeks could hardly contain themselves as the clock wound down Wednesday night.

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."

In Chicago, 31-year-old graphic designer Ben Delery said that for him "Revenge of the Sith" was the most widely anticipated of the "Star Wars" epic. He noted it finally explains what drives Jedi hero Anakin Skywalker to embrace the dark side and transform himself into Darth Vader.

"I thought it was amazing," a man told CBS affiliate WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C. "I mean, it was a lot more intense than the other ones, it was... like the dark side. You really felt it."

"It's just all special effects. It's a special effects overload," added another viewer.

One famous fan was also blown away by the effects. Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the first trilogy, told CBS News' The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman that he gave a thumbs-up to the new movie.

"My mouth was just hanging open at the effects. ...I had a great time. I think George (Lucas) went off on a high note, which is wonderful," Hamill said.

Much like the cult-following that emerged with the 1977 debut of the original "Star Wars," many fans said they would be repeat viewers.