'Sith' Draws Thousands to Convention

Published April 22, 2005

| Associated Press

More than 30,000 "Star Wars" fans from around the world have gathered here for the largest official "Star Wars" convention ever held.

Interest in the four-day "Celebration III" (search) has been piqued by the May 19 release of "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," (search) the final film in George Lucas' (search) prequel trilogy. Media outlets around the world have sent representatives, and downtown hotels are booked solid.

The star attraction is creator Lucas, who on Saturday will make his first appearance at a fan convention since 1987.

The convention also offers the chance to snatch up movie action figures and watch the Stormtrooper Olympics or the "DroidYard 500," a race and obstacle course featuring robotic figures modeled after the beeping, affable character R2-D2.

"It is the ultimate sci-fi," said Amanda Johnston of Detroit.

The convention, which opened Thursday and runs through Sunday, is the only U.S. "Star Wars" convention sanctioned by Lucasfilm, said company spokeswoman Lynn Fox. The first was held in 1999 in Denver, followed by Celebration II in Indianapolis in 2002.

The event is so popular that fans from Mexico, Japan and Europe have chartered jets to Indianapolis, said Steve Sansweet, director of content management for Lucasfilm and head of fan relations.

Marc Lorch of Stuttgart, Germany, traveled here with nine other men to attend his first U.S. "Star Wars" convention, complete with his own stormtrooper costume. "There's so many people from all over the world," he said.

Stefan Breen of Detroit, who was 8 when the original film was released in 1977, says there's no simple explanation for the films' far-reaching appeal.

"Somebody enjoys action movies, will go see all the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies or the Sylvester Stallone movies — you know, it's just something you enjoy, that you're into," he said.

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