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Star Wars Hype, It Is

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RALEIGH — Like it or not, the hype surrounding the newStar Warsmovie will "force" its way into your life soon. The merchandise mania started at midnight when stores across the country began selling the stuff.

It is part of the hype for a movie that is more than two weeks away from the theaters. But it is not just any movie. It isthe first Star Wars filmto come out in over 16 years. Star Wars fan Roseanne Taft is ready.

"We've been waiting for this over half our lives for some of us, so I'm very excited it's coming out," said Taft.

So are retailers.

"This is fantastic. This is something the entire toy industry is looking forward to, to boost sales throughout the entire year," said store manager Sean Hess.

Experts believe that by the year's end, Star Wars fans will spend more than $1 billion on thenew movie merchandise, everything from action figures to sleeping bags, to swimming pools. So far it is mostly die hard collectors out doing the buying.

"I have probably 200 or 300 figures now," said fan Kevin Dunn.

The big surprise so far is it has not been the Star Wars action figures that have been selling like hot cakes.

TheStar Wars Lego toysare clearing the shelves.

If you think it is crazy now, just wait until the movie comes out.

"I have my costume ready for opening night, and I've got people at work ready to camp out with me," said one fan.

The new Star Wars movie opens May 19.

A Durham woman is taking Star Wars fever to an all new level.

Jennifer Briggs officially changed her name toObi-Wan KenobiMonday. It was all part of a $1,000 challenge fromMix 101.5.

After getting some encouragement from her students at Cary Academy, Briggs decided to give it a shot. Monday, the Durham Clerk of Courts granted her request.

"At first it was the money, later on it was these guys. They all said 'you got to do it.' We want to do it, and it was a contest of our entire grade at Cary academy. It wasn't just me. After it became a class thing, how could I let them down? I had to go all the way," said Briggs.

The 6th grade teacher uses the movie in a mythology course to teach her students about the journey of a hero.