Star Wars fans in Austin, Texas, couldn’t outlast Jim Braden. To test their endurance and devotion to the iconic films, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema hosted a marathon, challenging participants to watch The Force Awakens on repeat as many times as possible — after sitting through the six preceding films. Braden, who competed against six other pre-selected fans, managed to make it through nine consecutive showings of the seventh episode for a total of 15 long movies in a row.
Although Braden enjoyed the new movie, he (understandably) called the experience a “grueling ordeal” in an email interview with THR. By the time his last competitor dropped out, he actually still felt “pretty good overall” and “could have kept going for many more hours” if he’d had to; he was glad that it wasn’t necessary, though. Staff at the Drafthouse were apparently less thrilled. “The Drafthouse gang was a little disappointed that I wasn’t hallucinating by the end,” he said.
To keep himself awake for the multi-day event — during which sleep was prohibited — Braden had a well-thought-out strategy. Not only did he plan his meals carefully, he opted for a single cup of black coffee every six hours instead of energy drinks. He was even prepared with deep diaphragm breathing exercise, peppermint gum, and lemon wedges, all of which he used to keep himself awake. “It’s not sexy, but together, all of these things worked,” he said.
Of course, it wasn’t all a struggle. Braden enjoyed watching the films with fellow die-hards, and he highlighted the first two viewings of The Force Awakens as being particularly fantastic. The first brought “euphoria,” and then the second gave him a chance to really focus on the film. Beyond that, though, “we quickly fell into a pattern of diminishing returns,” he said. By the last two viewings, his focus wasn’t quite there and he described himself as having “checked out.”
For his trouble, Braden earned serious bragging rights, a 7-year movie pass to Drafthouse theaters, and a bunch of Star Wars merchandise, and there will also be a seat in the theater named in his honor. He’s even planning his next viewing of The Force Awakens.