LOS ANGELES – Drawn by the force, a handful of die-hard Star Wars fans have lined up on a Hollywood Boulevard corner with plans to wait more than a month for the first tickets to another chapter in the science fiction film saga.
These early birds, part of a group of about 70 people organized by the Web site LiningUp.net, pitched camp near the landmark Grauman's Chinese Theater a week ago. They will wait there in shifts to see the first show when Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones opens May 16, said event organizer Peter Genovese, 26.
"This is where it all started," said Genovese, a student at California State University, Northridge. "This is where [George] Lucas had the premiere back in '77. It's like Mecca."
The ritual began in 1999 when fans, some from as far as Australia, organized on the Web to form a ticket line six weeks before the last film in the series opened, Genovese said.
Participants earn time on the line. The amount of time spent waiting determines their position in the actual ticket line when tickets are sold, Genovese said.
It has not been announced when tickets for Attack of the Clones will go on sale.
But it's more than just movie tickets. Members of the group are required to donate least $50 for the Starlight Children's Foundation, a nonprofit organization working with seriously ill children and their families.
When the last film in the series, The Phantom Menace premiered in 1999, a line of 150 people collected about $25,000 for the charity, Genovese said.
Among six people lounging on the street Wednesday was Steve Elms, a computer network operator who traveled from San Francisco to wait in line. Keeping contact with his boss through a cellular phone, he plans to camp out for the first week and final week.
"I have no place else to go," Elms, 39 said. "It's just fun sitting on Hollywood Boulevard watching the freaks and the tourists walk by."
Luis Lecca, a Los Angeles martial arts instructor, waited outside Grauman's 24 hours before the last Star Wars movie opened but couldn't see the first show. He decided to brave the hecklers this time by spending eight hours a day in line.
"Out of 12 people, one of them will call us nerds. The other 11 will say 'cool,'" Lecca, 29 said. "We're just really persistent people. We see something was want to do and we do it."
Noel Lamothe, 35, and his girlfriend moved to Los Angeles from Anchorage on Sunday. They intend to camp outside the theater until the movie is shown, then find a place to live.
"I made good enough friends on the line that I wanted to move down here," said Lamothe, who camped out in Hollywood for Episode I three years ago. "We had to do it again this time."
In between trips for fast food and late-night debates on the intricacies of the Star Wars films, Lamothe is busy making plans for another cinematic outing.
"We're already talking about [a line in] 2005 for Episode III," he said.