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Awakened interest: Those who embraced original Star Wars line up for new installment

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Steve Johnson of Richmond runs a home-brew supply store, but on Monday he was drinking deeply of the Star Wars experience.

On Monday night, in Topsham, Johnson attended a packed screening at Smitty's Cinema for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Before entering the theater, Johnson said he stayed spoiler free.

"I've seen the whole series, but I haven't seen anything about this movie yet, I've tried to stay away from as much as I can," he said.

Johnson, like many from the generations that embraced the original trilogy of George Lucas space soap operas, said he preferred the films that started with Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. This series continued with The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), and continued after a long hiatus this month with The Force Awakens.

The original Star Wars imprinted on movie fans, including generations in the same family.

"My son is 31, and he's seen it, he loves it, he grew up watching the movies," Johnson said.

"The first three movies are definitely the better of the movies, the last three weren't great," he said.

The UK Independent reported that a more mature audience turned out to help the newest Star Wars installment break box office records.

"Men made up the bulk of ticket buyers, comprising 58 percent of the opening weekend audience, and despite the franchise having been bought out by the kid-orientated Disney, adults represented 71 percent of the crowd with families only accounting for 20 percent of consumers," the Independent reported.

Matthew Gagnon, chief executive officer of the conservative think tank, the Maine Heritage Policy Center, shared a detailed and unabashedly spoiler-laden movie review on Facebook, giving the film eight out of 10 stars.

"Any sort of fear that these new movies would in any way resemble, or be as awful as, the prequel movies was thankfully laid to rest, and very quickly," he wrote (see the full review at https://www.facebook.com/matthewgagnon/posts/10102755295896789).

Matthew Jude Barker, who attended a screening of The Force Awakens at the Nickelodeon in Portland, talked with an older gentleman who went to see the original Star Wars movie in 1977 in Washington, D.C. This gentleman, a local writer, said he was impressed with the new movie, and he and his wife stayed until the final credits were shown. The older gentleman said that the storytelling was interesting and well-done, although reminiscent of the original movies. He said he looks forward to the next movie.

(See Barker's impressions of The Force Awakens in the related story.)