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Comics fans line up for 'Black Panther'

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Fans enter the theater to see the 6:30 p.m. showing of the new movie "Black Panther" at RCE Theaters, formerly Gateway Cinemas, in Elizabeth City, Friday.

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By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday was a big night at the movies in Elizabeth City, for two reasons.

One, the highly anticipated superhero film "Black Panther" opened. Second, the movie opened at the new RCE Theaters, formerly known as Gateway Cinemas.

"We're expecting a big crowd," said Blaine Given, whose wife Janellle is owner of RCE Theaters.

The first person in line for the 6:30 p.m. showing of “Black Panther” was Elizabeth City resident James Mouton, who said he was looking forward to seeing and learning more about "another great superhero."

Mouton is a longtime fan of Marvel Comics movies, such as "Captain America: Civil War" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron."

He was just as excited to see "Black Panther."

"I've just been waiting for it," he said. "I'm a big fan" of all the movies. "I've seen 'em all."

Khadijah Osborne said she, too, is a Marvel Comics fan. She was excited about "Black Panther," she said, because the movie features women as strong characters.

"The women are really powerful," she said.

In "Black Panther" when the women get into a jam they don't have to rely on men to save them, Osborne said.

"Oh, I can do it myself," is how the women in "Black Panther" respond, she said.

Waiting with Osborne was her brother, Burriell. His expectations for the film were more mundane.

"I just know it's going to be a good movie," he said.

Also waiting in line Friday night was Tonya Jackson, of Elizabeth City.

While Jackson said she was excited "Black Panther" features a black superhero and a predominantly black cast, she doesn't consider the movie to be a "movement," as she has heard it described. She said that's because black actors are enjoying much more prominent roles in Hollywood movies than in the past.

As of midnight Thursday RCE Theater assumed ownership of Gateway, Blaine Given said. The RCE stands for Red Carpet Entertainment and the future holds many changes for the twin theater.

"We're going to bring this theater into the 21st Century," Given said. Upgrades will include a digital menu board, new carpet, restroom renovations and the ability to purchase tickets online and at the box office with credit and debit cards, he explained.

Already Friday evening workers were seen in the lobby adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls.

The Givens also own a theater in Roanoke Rapids.

The time was 5:30 p.m. and the theater wouldn't begin selling tickets for another 30 minutes. In the meantime, fans were lining up at the box office, many of them with umbrellas to ward off the rain.

"We're super excited to welcome them in," Given said.

Near the end of the line was Elizabeth City couple Norma and Ronald Walker.

"I just love superhero flicks," said Norma, adding that it's nice also to see a movie that features a black superhero. "To have one that looks like us."

She and her husband also said they've heard great reviews about the movie, particularly that it's supposed to have fantastic special effects.

"That's what we've heard," Norma said. "That's what we've seen in the trailers."

Asked if she thought the movie would be worth waiting in the rain to see, she laughed and replied, "We hope so."

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