'Star Wars' Fans Abandon Office for a Galaxy Far, Far Away

It's opening day of the Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith and we dropped by the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C., where some Washingtonians were briefly escaping the tractor beam-like hold of their office work to see Chewbacca's return to the screen. A few said they made some elaborate excuses to be there.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

For millions of fans, downloading videos off the Internet is OK, but, really, nothing beats seeing a movie in the theater on opening day, especially when the movie is "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith," which opens today, a Thursday, which means school or work for most people. Some employers, like Miller Systems in Boston, decided to embrace the fact that their workers wanted to get out of the office.

(Soundbite of answering machine)

Automated Voice: Greetings. Our offices will be closed after 12:30 PM on Thursday, May 19th, in observance of George Lucas' latest epic, "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith."

BLOCK: Most employers are not so understanding of the power of the Force that pulls fans to a movie. NPR's Art Silverman went to talk to some people standing in line for the show playing Wookiee Hooky.

ART SILVERMAN reporting:

So who here called in sick today to be here? Anyone?

Mr. BRUCE WEBSTER: I'm self-employed.

Ms. SALEM WEBSTER(ph): I quit my job.

SILVERMAN: That's Salem Webster and her father, Bruce. The Webster clan takes their "Star Wars"-watching seriously. Today they were waiting at Washington, DC's, Uptown Theater for the 3:00 showing of the latest epic. While they didn't have to lie to anyone to come to a midday show, that wasn't the case for some others, including Tish Paul(ph) of Bethesda, Maryland.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. TISH PAUL (Bethesda, Maryland): I had to tell a few clients I was out of the office, and my partners weren't so happy about it, but here I am.

ADAM(ph): I just was taking a sick day. That's it. I left a message.

SILVERMAN: Can I hear your cough?

ADAM: I gave no cough. I just said I wasn't going to be in.

SILVERMAN: That's Adam. He didn't tell us his last name or hometown. Like many others in line, he didn't want to get caught playing hooky.

An Alexandria, Virginia, man, who wished to be known as Dante(ph), said he'd set the day aside three months ago for "Star Wars," and he used an elaborate excuse.

Mr. BRIAN MITCHNIK(ph): I'm getting married in a month, and I told my chief client that I am doing wedding errands and getting my wedding rings engraved.

SILVERMAN: That's Brian Mitchnik from Arlington, Virginia. As we were asking folks about their excuses, a small boy came up and volunteered his story.

Unidentified Boy: My mom told me that I was going to the doctor, and I got fooled, and so she ended up taking me to see this.

SILVERMAN: Yeah, yeah.

He told us his name, and I'm going to protect his identity, even though he says tomorrow he's going to confess to his teacher. After all, he goes to a Catholic school. Art Silverman, NPR News, Washington, DC.

Unidentified Man #1: Actually I had vacation. I've been out since the beginning of the week. I've been out here since Monday morning. I was--started getting sick as of last night. I started losing my voice. I'm feeling OK. I just--I've lost my voice.

Unidentified Woman #1: Jedis don't lie.

Unidentified Man #2: I'm a Sith.

SILVERMAN: Did you have to call in Sith?

Unidentified Man #2: Oh, yeah. N--whoa! I--oh, yeah, he got me. I called in sick. I didn't even call my boss. I just called my co-worker and told him to tell my boss. I told him--I was like, `Yeah, I'm dressed up as Darth Maul, and I'm in DC trying to see "Star Wars."'

SILVERMAN: What's on your player there?

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man #2: We got everything. We got this. ...(Unintelligible) played in "Episode I." I got--hold on. Here's the good one.

This is what we play when we're doing the evil walk.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man #2: See. Oh, yeah.

(Soundbite of music)

MICHELE NORRIS (Host): It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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