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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘I just hope to see the force carry on’: Fans flock to Skywalker swan song

Ryan Dudley fires up his lightsaber with Carrie Westbrook (in back) and Shell Dudley before attending the special showing of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” at AMC Theater Thursday evening. Ryan has attended every Star Wars Premiere since he was four-years-old. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Shell Dudley rode the escalator to the AMC movie theater at River Park Square Mall with lightsabers dangling from her earrings, the Millennium Falcon hanging on a chain around her neck, a holiday-themed Darth Vader on her sweater and a glowing red lightsaber in her hand.

“It was hard to sleep,” Dudley, 45, said about the anticipation ahead of seeing “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the final movie in the franchise’s third trilogy. It was also hard to “go to work” and concentrate, she added.

Dudley, Carrie Westbrook, 55, and Ryan Dudley, 47, bought tickets back in October for an advanced premiere of the film through AMC Theatres at 5 p.m. Thursday, an hour before the public premiere.

Early moviegoers received a commemorative pin and concession discount.

“I’ve seen every (Star Wars) movie on its premiere since I was 4,” said Ryan Dudley, who wore a Star Wars scarf and carried a Kylo Ren replica lightsaber. “I was like a kid on Christmas last night.”

Shell Dudley said she hopes the final film is a good send off for the trilogy, and Westbrook said she just wants to learn Rey’s true identity.

“It’s just good to see another Star Wars movie and see the franchise carry on,” Shell Dudley said.

The AMC theater at River Park Square had more than three dozen showings of the new Star Wars film scheduled for Thursday and Friday. The Regal theater at NorthTown Mall had about a dozen screenings Thursday and close to 20 scheduled Friday.

Casey Mabry and his son Logan, 8, strode up to the advanced screening of the film in an Anakin Skywalker Jedi robe and a Kylo Ren tunic and cape.

“I grew up on (films) four, five and six,” Casey Mabry said. “And I get to enjoy with them (family) seven, eight and nine.”

Mabry said he’s partial to the original trilogy but appreciates what Disney has done with the sequels and TV series “The Mandalorian.” Logan said his favorite film is still “The Empire Strikes Back.”

“I just hope to see the force carry on,” Mabry said.