'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' brings fans out in force

For 9-year-old Rosaleen McGinnis, the new Star Wars movie is part of an education.

Her parents have been teaching her "all things geek" since an early age.

"There are some things in the geek world we can't really share with her yet because she's not old enough yet, but Star Wars is not one of those things," said her mother, Melissa McGinnis.

"We can watch it together, we can dress up as characters together -- which we do all the time."

The family came all the way from Kilgore after winning tickets in an ultimate fan contest earlier this year.

Rosaleen wore her Princess Leia costume to Thursday's opening night of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson.

Barely able to contain her excitement, she listed her favorite characters as "all of them." And all of them were there among her fellow moviegoers, including Darth Vader, Chewbacca and Han Solo.

Bill DiGaetano, Alamo Drafthouse's chief operating officer, said the theater had spent a year preparing for the intergalactic event.

"Something this big doesn't happen that often," he said.

Although some theaters banned masks and prop weapons, Alamo Drafthouse encouraged costumes.

"We feel it's not a Star Wars party without that element," the theater's creative manager and programmer, James Wallace, said earlier this week.

Richardson police were on hand, though, to inspect all toy weapons.

Before the night's first screening, DJ Darth Fader provided the beat for line-dancing stormtroopers in the lobby. A menu included Wookiee cookies.

Waiting fans had few concerns about the new addition to the Star Wars canon -- or its new director.

"I think J.J. [Abrams] is going to knock it out of the park," said Zachary Presley.

He drove from Durant, Okla., for the premiere. "Fans are all wanting the moon, but we should just be happy with what we get."

At Studio Movie Grill in northwest Dallas, Lauren Becerra went to the movie -- dressed as an X-wing fighter pilot -- with her father, mother and brother.

The night continued a family tradition. Her mother took her and her brother to the 2005 midnight opening of the last Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith.

"I remember my dad taking us to see Star Wars when it first came out," said her mother, Lori Becerra. "My kids had to watch it."

Glynn Wilcox had some catching up to do with his 10- and 7-year-old sons before they could see the new movie. They spent the last week watching the original trilogy.

But they had to be there for the opening at Studio Movie Grill -- even though it was a weekday.

"They get to go to school tomorrow and say they saw it first," he said.

Staff writer Charles Scudder contributed to this report.

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