The cultural pull the Star Wars franchise has on society at large is staggering. There's the merchandise, the cosplay, the fanfare. Since the original hit the screens in 1977, fervor has only grown. With the release this week of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the hype has effectively been built. It's the second installment in the sequel trilogy and was directed by sci-fi visionary Rian Johnson. The flick chronicles Luke Skywalker's embracing the role of mentor to Rey, and is especially meaningful to fans, as it marks the final on-screen appearance of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.
While the franchise has a dedicated international fan base, locally we've been bitten by the stormtrooper bug. From special screenings to opportunities to dress up as your favorite characters, here are a handful of ways to get your Jedi on, Philly-style.
Starting opening night, the Franklin Institute will be screening The Last Jedi on the 70-foot-wide and 4½-story Tuttleman IMAX Theater in 70mm film. The dome screen, also tilted at 30 degrees, puts the audience directly into the action.
Through March, Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St. $15, $14 members fi.edu/last-jedi
Not only is Franklin Square home to an extremely lit holiday display — in the most literal sense: the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show features over 50,000 lights blinking in synchronization with a soundtrack by the Philly Pops — but you (and/or your children) can come to the square in Star Wars costume to witness it.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, 200 N. Sixth St. Free. historicphiladelphia.org/franklin-square
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Buzz Cafe, 1800 N. Howard St.
Capture the essence of the franchise in a tiny terrarium. If you're the kind of person who gets joy from pairing a Yoda figurine with some succulents, make sure to get your tickets early. All materials will be supplied, but feel free to bring your own Star Wars figurines.
7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Haverford College Arboretum, 370 Lancaster Ave., Haverford. $25; students $20; members $15; under 18 $12. 610-896-1000, haverford.edu/arboretum/news-events
It's a Festivus for the Rey of us! While the combination of two entirely unique pop-culture phenoms may seem confusing, nothing is off limits. Come for a Star Wars-themed brunch menu, restaurant decor, and drinks.
10 a.m. Sunday, The MINT Gastropub, 123 W. Broad St., Bethlehem, Pa. bethlehemmint.com
Beer and lightsaber battles sounds like a good idea on paper, but why not find out for yourself? Victory Beer will be supplying the franchise-inspired brews, and, yes, there will be a costume contest. Winners score a Victory Prize Pack, $50 gift card or two tickets to The Last Jedi, which screens at 7:30 p.m. at the nearby Rave Cinemas.