And while that early viewing may be a badge of honor for geeks around the world, the "Star Wars flu" may pull down productivity figures, analysts warned.
"Theres nothing like being here for the first showing," said an IT manager for a financial brokerage firm on Wednesday, while standing in line in front of the Metreon theater complex in San Francisco.
He had called in sick in order to see the midnight showing on the DLP (digital light processing) cinema screen. After spending quite a few hours in the cold and drizzle, he added that he might not make it to his job on Thursday, as he felt a "second day" of his cold coming on.
Pointing to some attendees dressed in Star Wars costumes, the IT manager said, "Look at these guys. This is what its all about, and you cant get that unless youre down here now. And being able to be first and see it in a digital cinema is just the coolest."
Not only that, knowing that the Star Wars movie is likely to attract a large number of IT workers, the Geek Squad said it is helping small businesses in need of emergency IT replacements by auctioning the companys Geek Squad Agents on eBay. Auctions are to take place in major high-tech markets, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Boston.
The losers, ultimately, may be the employers. According to movie industry watchers, more than 9 million people will be in theaters nationwide on Thursday and Friday to see the next—and supposedly last—installment of Star Wars. Some viewers will take vacation days to stand in line to get in, and some will call in sick.
According to a report released by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., workers who blow off work to wait in line for tickets, catch the movie, or recuperate the day after a midnight screening will set their collective employers back at least $627 million.