This December marks one of the biggest events of the year — and it isn't Christmas. All year long, Star Wars fans across the globe have been eagerly anticipating the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the latest film in the blockbuster franchise, and the first new film in over 10 years. Directed by J.J. Abrams, Episode VII promises to break box-office records, even before its release.
Anticipation for the film is already high, with the original stars reprising their roles and Abrams setting up a whole new trilogy. Everyone is wondering what will happen next in the Star Wars universe, as fans young and old gear up to attend one of thousands of sold-out screenings across the country.
But fans planning to attend one of these very special events need to take heed, because theater chains are already warning of certain restrictions to the celebrations. Cinemark, the third largest theater chain in the U.S., recently posted a list of rules on posters advertising tickets for the film:
"Star Wars costumes are welcome. However, no face coverings, face paint, or simulated weapons (including lightsabers/blasters) will be allowed in the building."
And AMC, the second largest theater chain, seems to have similar policies in place for the film, albeit maybe a bit more relaxed. A statement on their website for the movie reads:
"AMC does not permit weapons or items that would make other guests feel uncomfortable or detract from the movie-going experience. Guests are welcome to come dressed in costume, but we do not permit masks. In short, bring your lightsaber, turn it off during the movie, and leave the blaster and Darth Vader mask at home."
This may put a damper on the evening for fans who had planned to don Darth Maul makeup or come as a Stormtrooper, but of course it's all done in the interest of safety. AMC, for their part, explained to EW that the statement on their website reflects the company’s standard costume policy, which has actually been in place for several years. Ever since the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, safety has been an increasing concern for people going to the movies.
And it's not just moving screenings, but even other large events, that are starting to enact a no mask or costume weapon policy. It all boils down to this: Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether a weapon is real or not, and if a crime is committed, theaters want to make sure they can identify an individual. The key is for everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves, while at the same time staying safe.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.