Child-Free Opening Night "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Screenings

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Child-Free Opening Night "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Screenings

This petition had 91 supporters
W.L. Swarts started this petition to George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm, Inc, and Disney

We, the undersigned, entreat the above named individuals and organizations to use their influence over the movie theater chains of America to provide one (1) child-free screening of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on opening night (or the night before) so as to provide adult fans of the "Star Wars" franchise an optimal viewing opportunity.

Since advanced purchase tickets for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" went on sale, enthusiasm has confirmed what analysts long predicted: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will be a massive box-office success and a sell-out for virtually every showing of the film for its opening week(s). There is, however, a significant population of people who have not yet bought tickets to see "Star Wars: The Force Awakens:" adults who want to be able to thoroughly enjoy the film without having the experience jeopardized or ruined by the actions of children who remain vocal and active during the screening.

We are the fans who have been enthusiastic about the "Star Wars" franchise from the very beginning. We have watched the films over and over and over again since "A New Hope" was theatrically released in 1977. We are the fans who grew up on "Star Wars;" we bought the VHS, DVD, and Blu-Ray. We bought the merchandise. We are enthusiastic about the experience and we have been fans for almost forty years; we have waited for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" for almost thirty years.

A lot has changed since 1977 when "A New Hope" made its theatrical debut. The economy is less secure for the middle class, parenting styles are different and movie theater technology is vastly superior. Before the "Star Wars" Prequel films were released theatrically, George Lucas and Lucasfilm were at the forefront of pushing for digital projector technology in order to allow fans to witness the moviemaking magic of the films in their most optimal conditions. It does not matter how impressive the technology is when the sound system is competing with children crying, yelling, or asking their parents loud, continual, questions.

It is not the role of the movie theaters, nor the other patrons of the theater, to parent such children. Indeed, the "Star Wars" films are a family event.

However, child-free adults are families, too. We are child-free - by choice, biology, or circumstance, we are the empty-nesters, we are the adults who want to share an experience with one another without the children present.

What we propose, what we ask for is simple: One (1) screening at all theaters that get the print for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on opening night - December 17, 2015 - be added for adults (18 or 21 and over only). Lucasfilm and Disney can make that happen. Out of respect for the adult audiences who were teenagers and children when the original "Star Wars" films premiered, we ask that Lucasfilm and Disney assert their influence to make such screenings happen.

Those of us who have attempted to organize such events at the local level have been met by resistance from theater owners and theater chains. Theater owners and chain theater program directors have been resistant to a child-free screening of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" for the following reasons:

1. There are plenty of showings for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," many going into the early hours of December 18th (i.e. 2 A.M., 4 A.M.),
2. We are going to sell out all of our screenings anyway, so we don't have to pander to child-free people,
3. "Star Wars" is a family event and we are pro-family,

Our responses are simple:
1. Quick research has shown that tickets for late, even through-the-night showings, of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" include significant numbers - up to 40%! - of child tickets sold for those screenings. It is not the theater's place to parent and tell adults they cannot take their children out at 2 A.M. on a school night for a movie. But, can anyone honestly argue that a theater filled with sleep-deprived children will afford the same quality of viewing for adults as one devoid of children?
2. Selling out is a good reason to avoid pandering to any group, but such theaters are neglecting to consider that selling out a theater is only true when the theater does not have to refund tickets from people whose experience was ruined due to environmental issues. Theaters including sleep-deprived or excited, sugared-up children will most certainly have an environment that will lead adults to demand their money back; we, the undersigned, will see to that. The flip side, of course, is that a dedicated showing on opening night advertised as an event that is child-free will most certainly be a sell-out. Moreover, the argument that adults who are disrupted by children at a screening of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" can just get their money back neglects the other costs associated with going out to the movies: the movie theater will not refund gas, travel expenses, babysitters, etc.
and, finally, 3. "Star Wars" is a family event and adults are families, too. Families with children would have *every other screening in the world* to attend. No one is asking that children not be able to see "Star Wars: The Force Awakens;" we're asking for a single screening per theater on opening night.

Theater chains and owners might need encouragement to stay open, so we offer the following two suggestions:
1. Make it a charity event. The George Lucas Educational Foundation is an honorable charity that "Star Wars" fans would love to give their money to! If the child-free screening is billed as a charity event to raise money for a good cause, it is hard to disparage it.
2. Make it an adult event. With digital print technology, it would be comparatively easy to create a digital print for an adults-only screening of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Attach red-band trailers to an adults-only screening print of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (surely Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino can have something ready in time!) that would make the dedicated print NC-17. The movie theaters would be off the hook under such circumstances; they could not allow people under 18 into the showing!

If Lucasfilm and Disney released "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" as a charity event screening for a single showing for adults only on December 16, it would sell-out the screening, raise money for charity, and theaters could be further enticed by allowing them to add earlier showings of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" during the day on December 17th. It is a win-win-win proposal that makes money for the theaters, makes money for a good charity and rewards the adult fans with an experience that rivals their childhood memories.

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