May 4th is a big day for Star Wars fans as it is, of course, Star Wars Day. So, may I start by saying, "May the 4th be with you." Now the use of that phrase dates back apocryphally to Margaret Thatcher in 1979, but the first official (although not by Lucasfilms or Disney) celebration of Star Wars Day was in 2011.
But why is Star Wars so important to Now Playing?
For the answer to that question, we have to go back to Dec 18th, 2015 which was opening day for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Coming out of that movie I had flashbacks to 1978 when my father took me to see the original Star Wars. He took me to a drive-in where we ate KFC which I remember because we never really ate there before or after this movie. As I sat in the car as the grease from chicken and the smell of fried food filled the air, I knew, even at 4 years old, I was going to be a bit different after this movie was over.
You see, I was always a dreamer, I would daydream in class (sometimes still do in meetings), I am a lifelong proponent of visualization, I tend to look at the world in a way that assumes anything is possible and work backwards to a solution and really want a lightsaber. So, seeing Star Wars at that age ignited a passion for stories (specifically sci-fi), a love of film, and a drive to try things merely because they just might work.
Back to 2015 after my friends and I walked out of the movie I called them all almost in the order we sat in the theater. I asked each of them "what did Star Wars do to you, as a kid?" They all had answers but the universal truth was that this one movie had made an impact on them in one way or the other. I pushed, "what do you think will happen to a 7-year old that sees this movie this weekend?" Down to the man, they said: "they will lose their minds." I was on a role so I asked one final question and we were all hooked...
"What if we took kids to see this movie who would never have a chance otherwise?"
When the weight had sunk in we skipped by the obvious answer and moved to how could we do this. After some simple math we all pitched in and reached out to St. John's Home to see if they were interested. They were amazing to work with so we picked a date and arranged the tickets with Celebration Cinema. At this point, there is no 501 (c) we are just a group of guys who wanted to try something to see if it might work.
I remember that Saturday afternoon because my friend Justin was able to join me as we gave all the kids lightsabers and escorted them into the theater. As the movie went on the kids who sat behind us asked all sorts of questions. They type of questions you would ask if this was your entry point into the Star Wars universe and I remember thinking and then saying to Justin - we have to build this.
So here we are 15 events later and celebrating Star Wars Day. Why Star Wars? Because the perfect movie came along at the perfect time to be the jumping off point for some of the most fulfilling work many of us have ever done.
May the Fourth Be With You.