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Tuesday, December 15, 2015
The Transit Drive-In Theatre and Palace Theatre will both premiere "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on Thursday. East Niagara Radio will broadcast live prior to the 7 p.m. drive-in showing. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TRANSIT DRIVE-IN)

By +Scott Leffler

The newest release in the nine-episode Star Wars saga, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will be premiered Thursday night at the Transit Drive-In Theatre, as well as Lockport's Historic Palace Theatre.

The movie is surrounded by so much hype that Transit Drive-In owner Rick Cohen decided to keep the drive-in open through mid-January just to be allowed to show the film -- a requirement passed on to him by the film company.

Cohen says the drive-in is prepared to show the movie on all four screens if necessary when it first opens. There are showings at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday. It will also be shown on all four screens Friday and Saturday.

"We'll be able to accommodate 1,200 cars if necessary" Cohen said of the Thursday premiere. "If this were opening in July, there's no question we'd fill up at least three screens. It's hard to predict how many we will need in December, because this is so unprecedented. We'll be prepared for 100 cars or over 1,000."

Cohen plans to begin allowing cars into the drive-in at 5 p.m. but may have to open the gates earlier if response demands it. Tickets are $9 for adults and $4 for children ages 5-11.

East Niagara Radio will hold a live remote from the drive-in beginning at 5:30 p.m. and running into the start of the show. ENR commentators Howie Balaban and George Root -- both huge movie nuts -- will be broadcasting. ENP co-publishers Heather Grimmer and Scott Leffler will add commentary from time to time. The crew is hoping to interview Star Wars fans about their thoughts on the first six films and their expectations on the seventh. It's anticipated that several Star Wars fans may show up in costume. Follow eastniagara post on Twitter, Instagram and Periscope for thoughts, photos and live video.

There is no second movie for the Thursday premiere at the drive-in, which will allow people who choose to also see the 11:59 premiere at the Palace Theatre.

Palace Theatre Executive Director Chris Parada considered going all-out for the premiere as well, but had to curtail pre-show festivities due to another engagement at the theater Thursday night. It's still anticipated that fans will be decked out on Star Wars paraphernalia.

Tickets for the Palace showing are $10. For opening night, pre-sale tickets are available at the box office.


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