Lining up for Star Wars:
The Force Awakens
By Veronica Nunez
October 9, 2019
I’m not sure how I heard about the line for Star Wars : The Force Awakens, but I know I signed up on Eventbrite. The line up was organized by LiningUp.Net. I had already bought Star Wars marathon tickets for an AMC Theater for my niece and myself, but I wanted to see what the line up was all about. I signed up on the first day in the forecourt of the historic TCL Chinese Theatre Imax. I brought my folding camp chair and a bag of snacks and found a spot to hang out. The line event began on December 5, 2015 and ended on December 17, 2015 with the first show of The Force Awakens followed by an after party inside the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres on the 3rd level of the Hollywood & Highland Center.
You’re immediate thought may be “It’s going to be stinky with all those unwashed people.” That’s not true. Here are the logistics for how the Line Up is run in the time of internet pre-purchased tickets. You sign in with the organizer manning the check-in table. A release is completed and signed when you first sign up/check-in at the table. You can leave the line for a short time (to smoke, go to the bathroom, grab food) as long as it’s a short-time, I think about 20-30 minutes. If you leave for a longer time, you need to check-out with the check-in/out table. So it’s easy to run home to take a shower, get more clean clothes, etc. The organizers tabulate the amount of time each person spends in line. The person who has the most hours gets to select their seats/tickets first, the person with second highest time selects their seats/tickets second, etc. I believe it was the Star Wars: The Last Jedi line they added a QR code to our name badges to use an app to tabulate the hours. It was easier for the organizers and for the rest of us, because there was more than one person who could check us in/out.
It was easy to make some friends, but I began the day by just hanging out with myself and observing the crowd. I read a little, played on my phone, and people watched. In case you are unaware, the block of Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Orange is very tourist heavy. Many of these tourists come into the forecourt of the Chinese to see the famous hand and footprints. The weather was nice for December around the mid-70s, but I brought a lap blanket, scarf, beanie, and warm gloves. There were other newbies like myself as well as veterans from past lines (beginning with Episode I) some of whom hadn’t seen each other for several years. The purpose of the line is obviously to see the newest Star Wars film, but with pre-purchasing of tickets, it isn’t necessary. LiningUp.Net uses the line up as a way to raise money for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
The forecourt of the TCL Chinese Imax Theatre is private property which is “fenced” off from the public once the theater closes for the night. They have their own security personnel stationed in the forecourt to keep people out. The staff of the TCL Chinese was fantastic in supporting the Line Up group, allowing us to use the restrooms throughout the day and night. Being able to sleep on top of the hand and footprints of Hollywood’s famous past and present is an amazing opportunity. We had fun calling “dibs” on certain celebrities’ hand prints each night. I’ve slept on Natalie Wood’s prints and Marilyn Monroe, but I sat on Denzel Washington’s prints a lot during the Line.
I didn’t camp overnight the first weekend and worked the following week, but I took some vacation time so that I could camp out all day and night for the second weekend through to opening night. Of course the temperatures dropped significantly the second weekend of the Line Up, and I hate the cold. I’m a Southern California native, of course I hate the cold. It was also raining off and on so that didn’t help me to keep warm. I had packed the free rain poncho I had received in my swag bag from the Oscars bleachers in 2013, so I put all of my stuff onto my chair and placed the poncho over everything to keep them dry. I then went to the “$10 souvenir store” (in reality everything is $5—every single day so don’t believe the hawkers they have outside) to see if they had any umbrellas as I had left mine at home. I did go home after 2 days to take a shower and grab my regular umbrella for the rest of the week.
There are a lot of news outlets who came to cover the Line Up, so be prepared for that. You don’t have to do press if you don’t want to, but you may be on camera which may be an issue if you called out of work saying you’re sick as some people have done. We also had some special guests stop by the Line Up such as Anthony Daniels (C3-PO) who spent quite a bit of time taking photos with us and telling us a story about C3-PO footprints in the forecourt. Ray Park (Darth Maul) stopped by when it was raining a little (it had been raining off and on all day), and did a little lightsaber “sparring” with a few of the Line members. I may put some short (and shaky) video of that on my YouTube page.
There was a lot of noise from the tents being set up on Hollywood Boulevard for the Red Carpet Premiere which was scheduled for December 14, 2015. We had to clear the area by 6am the day of the premiere, and we were all given time in line during the premiere festivities until we were able to return. The premiere had closed off 3 or 4 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard to traffic. On the day of the premiere, there were security stations with metal detectors on every corner. This made it impossible to line up on a side street during the time we were cleared out from the forecourt. I didn’t return to the Line Up after the premiere except for a brief visit to say hello on my way to the Star Wars marathon at the AMC Theatres in Burbank. I made some great friends during my first Line, and these became deeper friendships during the following Lines and beyond.