LOS ANGELES (AP) - A half-mile section of Hollywood Boulevard has been closed to traffic and a giant opaque tent now lines four blocks of the famous thoroughfare. Fan bleachers are up and spotlights are everywhere.
Could the Academy Awards be coming early to Hollywood? No, bigger: On Monday evening, three theaters will roll out red carpets for the world premiere of the hugely anticipated "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
Many of Hollywood's top stars will join hundreds of costumed fans at what could be the largest Hollywood premiere ever.
"The Force Awakens" opens in Rochester area movie theaters on Thursday night.
The widely anticipated seventh installment of the iconic movie franchise is a Disney production.
Jack Garner, the former longtime Gannett newspaper film critic based in Rochester, is interested to see if it holds up to the standard set by George Lucas 38 years ago.
"And that would mean it would have to continue the fantasy, all the wonderful characters, and all the odes and tributes to old-fashioned serials."
Garner said the original Star Wars was the first film he professionally reviewed in 1977. He enjoyed it with his son, and knows that the multi-generational appeal of the series is part of the story.
"A lot of fathers and sons went fishing together. Well, we remember when we saw Star Wars together."
Chris Bensch, vice president for collections at the National Museum of Play, looks forward to seeing the characters and classic plot lines that made the franchise famous.
"There's the hero who has to prove himself, the classic father issues, the sort of tough cowboy with the heart of gold - that's my analysis of Han Solo, there's the funny robot sidekick."
Bensch said the characters resonate with people across all cultures worldwide, just like folk tales.
He said the original Star Wars release in 1977 revolutionized movies and the toy industry, as it was the first time a film's products outpaced sales at the box office. Star Wars action figures are on display in the Museum of Play gallery at the Strong in Rochester. George Lucas was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2007.