The Uptown Becomes Crazytown

Outside the Uptown Theater last night at around 10 p.m., I thought a fight might break out. I was strolling up and down the long line of fans waiting to see the 12:01 a.m. show when I heard booing and hissing coming from the front of the queue.

"Did they cancel the screening?" I wondered.

No, turned out it was just some guy wearing a Jar Jar Binks mask who bravely walked the line, taking more abuse than Peter Angelos at a Washington Nationals tailgate party.

"Booo! You ruined my life!" one kid yelled. He said some other stuff, but most of it can't be printed on a family newspaper site.

On the whole, though, the Uptown crowd was remarkably pleasant and civil. Aside from the Jar Jar incident, a few light saber duels and a game of Twister that broke out on the concrete outside the Four Ps, nothing too wild happened.

By 10 p.m., the line stretched the length of Connecticut Ave., around the corner and part of the way up Newark Street. (This is why they call 'em blockbusters, people.) I chatted with a few fans, some of whom had stood in line for only a few hours, and one who had been sleeping on the street for eight days.

Jimmy Merrit, 23, from Greenbelt, Md., told me that his career as a stand-up comedian gave him the flexibility to devote himself to the "Star Wars" line for more than a week. Merrit -- who was dressed as Capt. Needa -- said everyone in Cleveland Park had been very nice to the group of campers, bringing them free bagels and other food. The only people who disturbed them: drunks and journalists. (I hear your punchline: What's the difference? Very funny.)

"The only people who would wake us up were the reporters," Merrit said. The Darth devotee became a media superstar yesterday; he estimated that he did 30 interviews. If you see a guy dressed up as Capt. Needa doing bits on "Letterman" someday, you can say you knew him when he was just a dude sleeping on the street in front of the Uptown.

As for line leader Adrienne Maul-Sari, she was (naturally) dressed in full Darth Maul regalia, complete with creepy yellow contact lenses. Thanks to a radio promotion, she got to see "Sith" at 7 p.m. She said she cried throughout much of the movie and was ready to see it again at 12:01. If you hit the Uptown in the next few days you may see Adrienne yourself; she's seeing the movie today at 8:30 a.m., then at 7 p.m., again at 10:30 p.m. and then another time for good measure on Saturday at 7 p.m. Say what you will, she's certainly committed. (I hear your punchline on this one, too: "Sounds like she needs to be committed." Seriously, you guys are pretty funny.)

I'm hoping to hit the Loews Georgetown later today to conduct my patented, fully scientific survey of how fans are reacting to "Revenge of the Sith," otherwise known as harassing moviegoers as they leave the theater. Stay tuned...

By washingtonpost.com |  May 19, 2005; 10:53 AM ET  | Category:  'Sith' Prep
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