Rogue One, the latest chapter of one of cinemas greatest franchises, opens in Loudoun County theatres this weekend, and the enthusiasm of Star Wars fans is making it feel more like an invasion.
At One Loudoun’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, creative manager Gabriel Ruzin is preparing for larger than usual crowds of movie goers of all ages. He said Alamo is offering up a few Rogue One treats of its own, including appearances by local members of the 501st Legion, an international Star Wars aficionado group whose members costume themselves as realistic-looking movie characters. They were already on display when The Tribune visited on Dec. 16, along with a decked-out, fog-generating, super-charged Death Star Hummer HI owned by local car enthusiast Eric Jacobs. Alamo is also bringing a local vendor in to do a podcast on Friday and Saturday in the lobby.
“Star Wars is a huge opportunity to plan special events, which is what we like to at Alamo,” Ruzin said, wearing a Yoda coat and a smile. Alamo’s signature food and beverage service is being augmented for the Rogue One screenings with a special movie menu, which he displayed, and movie theme drinking glasses.
“Guests can see a Star Wars movie anywhere, but Alamo adds a few extra touches that you won’t experience anywhere else,” Ruzin said.
I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was a kid,” said Jacobs. “The Hummer was a dream truck for me when I was younger, and when I was fortunate enough to find this one a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance.” He upgraded the motor to 700 pounds of torque, made a number of other repairs and improvements, and continues to work on new customizations. Lest there be any doubt of what he’s driving, it wears the Virginia license plate Dth1 Str.
Jacobs owns other vehicles, but favors the Hummer as his daily ride, even adding a car seat in the back for his six year-old daughter, who is a Star Wars fan too. He’s best known in the local community as the organizer of Cars and Coffee, which meets every Sunday morning at Dulles Landing in South Riding. The gatherings bring car enthusiasts together for conversation and camaraderie, and is open to anyone no matter what they are driving. The club also sponsors charitable events.
“This truck is a beast,” Jacobs said, as two uniformed U.S. Customs and Immigration officers walking past nodded in agreement.
Despite the cold weather, storm troopers from the 501st Division walked out in front of Alamo and immediately attracted fans to pose for pictures and gawk at the Hummer.
The troopers, also known as Lori Frye and Sean Conlon, both of Herndon, are committed 501st volunteers. She’s been part of the Galactic Empire since 2002, and he’s a new recruit, with this his first official appearance. Both clearly relish the fans and conversations about movie characters, costumes and equipment.
By late afternoon, Darth Vader arrived at Alamo to make an appearance too. We took our cue and left, since we had not brought our light sabers.
Fans should hurry to reserve seats for opening weekend. Area theatres we checked show many showings of Rogue One already sold out.