The Force is with the region’s Star Wars fans as the blockbuster film hits the big screens
- Credit: Gregg Brown
The Force has been with thousands of film fans who didn’t have to go to a galaxy far, far away to catch up with the latest instalment of Hollywood’s hottest film franchise.
Star Wars fever gripped Suffolk as film lovers flocked to see The Force Awakens, which has been shown round the clock to cope with the overwhelming demand after a 10-year wait since the last film.
Among those likely to be in line were the hundreds of Suffolk ‘Jedi Knights’.
Astonishingly, there are 2,300 people in the county who gave Jedi Knight as their religion for the 2011 census. The highest concentration is in the St Edmundsbury borough at 407 – 0.37% of the population.
The area was already known as a hotbed of Star Wars fandom, with the Norwich Star Wars of Suffolk club meeting in Bury St Edmunds every month.
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Run by Jason Buxton, 46, from Ixworth, the club is thriving and Jason was looking forward to seeing the new film for the first time.
“I’ve not heard one bad thing said about it yet,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of friends see it and they’ve all said it’s absolutely brilliant.”
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Ahead of the midnight screenings in the early hours of Thursday, Jason and other club members were decked out in full Star Wars regalia at the Odeon IMAX in Norwich, keeping queuing crowds entertained and collecting for charity.
However, he did confess he is not one of Suffolk’s Jedi Knights, saying: “I’ve never really thought about it, to be honest with you.”
Nevertheless, he believes people have felt the force of Star Wars’ potential around the world and this is what has given the franchise such an enduring appeal.
“I think it’s because everyone can relate in some way to Star Wars from their personal life,” he said. “Children and adults, there’s always a connection there from everyone.
“Star Wars brought a group of people together and showed that there’s no such thing as evil. It shows that it’s all good, that good can triumph and there’s good in everyone. That’s how people see it in life.”
The branch of the Norwich Star Wars Club meets monthly at Morton Hall Youth Club.
After starting in May, Jason said it was thriving with around 30-50 people turning up each time, both children and adults.
Speaking to the EADT yesterday, Jason was on his way with club members to Leicester Square, where they were due to be appearing as Star Wars characters to keep film goers entertained. Paid for by the cinema, Jason said the cash was channelled directly back into the club to help its running for the children and adults alike.
“We never have any problems or trouble,” he said. Everything just runs smoothly and everyone gets along and it puts a smile on the children’s faces.”
And the love of Star Wars is clearly strong elsewhere in Suffolk and Essex with hundreds saying their foremost religion was ‘Jedi Knight’ in 2011.
At 723, Colchester borough had the highest number in the area, equating to 0.42% of the population. This was following by Braintree district with 565 and 0.38%.
St Edmundsbury had the greatest proportion of Jedi in Suffolk, with Ipswich and Babergh next on 0.33%. The lowest concentration was in Forest Heath with 159 Jedi marking only 0.27% of the population. Suffolk Coastal had 0.31%, Mid Suffolk had 0.3% and Waveney had 0.29%.
The data was collated by geographic data company Esri UK, which produced the map ahead of the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.