"Star Wars" fans picket in support of delayed film

Sun Mar 30, 2008 9:42pm EDT
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By Borys Kit and Gregg Goldstein

LOS ANGELES (Hollywoood Reporter) - Angry "Star Wars" fans, aggrieved about editing changes to an upcoming Weinstein Co. comedy inspired by the sci-fi franchise, picketed theaters playing the studio's latest film, with both sides claiming some sort of victory.

Protesters, organized by a fan group calling itself the 501st, showed up in "Star Wars" gear on Friday at AMC Theatres in New York and Los Angeles that were playing "Superhero Movie."

They want to draw attention to the fate of "Fanboys," about four diehard "Star Wars" fans who break into George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch in order to see "The Phantom Menace" on the eve of its release. The film was originally set for the release last August, but a cancer storyline worried Weinstein, which shot a second version of the film. Fans were outraged.

Weinstein said last week that it will release the two versions on DVD, and a studio source later said that is exploring two theatrical versions. The announcement did nothing to satisfy the fans, who vowed to proceed with their picket of "Superhero Movie."

But the exact number of fans who donned "Star Wars" gear differs depending on which side is talking.

The 501st claims 14 members showed up in New York, but an AMC spokesperson said there was no protest, and a Weinstein source cited a YouTube video posted Friday night showing one protester saying no one else was there. The video has since been removed by the user.

The group also claimed more than 20 showed up at AMC's theaters in L.A.'s Century City district, but an AMC rep said this was limited to one person in a Darth Vader costume on the street outside the theater. A Weinstein source said eight protesters did appear, and were taken out for pizza by one of the filmmakers.

"We've been working on this movie for many years and if someone is going to take time out of their personal life and support our film, whatever that support may be, at the very least what we can do is say thank you and buy them a couple of slices of pizza for caring about this project as much as we do," "Fanboys" producer Matthew Perniciaro said.   Continued...

<p>File photo shows a man dressed as a character from the movie "Star Wars" waiting for an elevator in the lobby of the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York November 17, 2007. REUTERS/Jacob Silberberg</p>