A Force awakens

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away — 38 years in California to be exact — a sci-fi franchise began.

On Thursday, to many fans’ delight, Star Wars will see the seventh installment of that series.

The Regal Seymour Stadium 8 lists four times on Thursday night — two in traditional setting at 7:30 and 10:40 p.m., and two in 3D at 7 and 10:10 p.m.

“It’s just a great movie. It’s based on such classic storytelling. It’s adventure, heroes, good and evil,” said Sean Hildreth of Seymour, a Star Wars fan who will be seeing the new movie, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” on opening night.

The most recent installment in the Star Wars franchise was “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” — the third episode, but the sixth installment in the series. The movie, released in 2005, closed the gap between the old movies, Episodes 4, 5 and 6, and the new movies, prequels to the events of the old movies.

“Personally, I like the older ones best. But I like the newer ones, too. I like a little bit of both, really,” said Jonathan Pearce, a senior at Crothersville Junior-Senior High School.

Let this be a warning: There are 30-year-old spoilers ahead.

When last left, the intrepid heroes had formed a ragtag band of rebels; managed to destroy the second Death Star, a world-destroying weapon as large as a planet; overcome the evil emperor Palpatine, a dark, sinister figure who controlled the equally evil Empire; and came to the realization that Palpatine’s right-hand man, Darth Vader, was in fact Luke and Leia’s father (making their kiss in the Episode 5 all the more awkward) before his ultimate betrayal of Emperor Palpatine and death.

Many would argue that this ending rounded out the series and eliminated the need for more. The heroes were left celebrating on the moon of Endor, and in at least one version, the viewer is treated to celebrations spreading across the galaxy as the Empire collapses.

“It’s easy to see how they might have stopped making them, especially after Episodes, 1, 2 and 3,” said Hildreth, referring to the three movies considered by many fans to be the series’ weakest. “But it’s great to have new focus, a new director and vision, especially from people who grew up on it.”

The collapse of the Empire, the ruling government for the galaxy, has brought about turmoil. Thirty years have passed since the events of “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.”

The new film gives fans a chance to find out what happened to the original characters after those movies, as many of the original cast, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and others, are billed in the new movie. The movie rights were acquired by Disney in 2012, and “The Force Awakens” sees a new director, J.J. Abrams, take the helm.

Not much of the plot has been revealed about the movie, and that’s the way Hildreth and Pearce say they like it.

“I’ve read one article about it but otherwise am trying to stay away from anything posted on it,” Hildreth said.

Theories abound about the potential plot and details of the movie, but most are keeping it quiet at least until the release.

“I think one possible outcome is that Han Solo (a roguish protagonist from the series played by Harrison Ford) might die,” said Pearce, mentioning that Ford’s dislike for his smuggler character was known around the Star Wars fans.

“My favorite character is Han, so I hope that’s not true,” Pearce said.

Hildreth plans to see the movie opening night, Thursday, at Regal Seymour Stadium 8 in Seymour, while Pearce wants the IMAX experience and is headed to Indianapolis on Friday to see it.

Hildreth plans on taking his son along with him to the movie.

“I think it’s fun that I get to see it with him,” he said. “I’m glad that we’ll have something to share. (Star Wars) is kind of a timeless story and characters that we get to share with the next generation.”