For these Atlanta businesses, ‘Star Wars’ day is a holiday

It’s that time of year again, when fanboys and girls go to sleep with visions of X-wing starfighters dancing in their heads.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” debuts in Atlanta on Thursday night. It’s the second-to-last movie in the triple trilogy of space operas that began 40 years ago with “Episode IV: A New Hope.”

Though pent-up demand is not as high as it was for “The Force Awakens,” which arrived in 2015 after 10 years without a “Star Wars” movie, expectations are still strong, and early reviews are giddy, though not unanimously positive. 

(Fans are actually lining up days early to see the film at some theaters, including a group camped out at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood since Dec. 7.)

Boardrooms and schoolrooms may look emptier than usual on Friday as science fiction fans play hooky, but a handful of bosses have decided: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Insight Sourcing Group, a Norcross-based “boutique procurement consulting firm,” is renting out one of the auditoriums at the Studio Movie Grill in Alpharetta, and sending all 125 employees, plus spouses and significant others, to a galaxy far, far away.

“Our CEO likes to keep everybody motivated and keep everybody happy,” said director of marketing Josh Stancil.

In addition to watching “The Last Jedi” together, employees will be treated to drinks and snacks. Renting the theater will cost about $7,000, and the fact that the company is forgoing billable hours for that day means it’s investing about $30,000 in the event, said Stancil.

The company did the same thing in 2015, when they attended “The Force Awakens” en masse. (When they announced the planned outing at a staff meeting, the senior staff turned up dressed in Imperial and Rebellion gear.)

Cardlytics, a data analytics firm, will also go into hyperdrive Friday, taking over a screen at the Hollywood Stadium 24 in Chamblee on Friday.

“’Star Wars’ is sort of central to our personality at Cardlytics,” said Kirk Somers, chief legal officer and head of human resources at the Atlanta company. Meetings take place at a conference room stenciled with a Death Star image, and there is a holiday-themed Yoda statue next to the company Christmas tree.

RELATED: Watch the trailer for ‘The Last Jedi’

Luckily, this time of year is a little slow anyway, which gives the supervisors an opportunity to do something nice for the staff, said Somers. “Our people are fantastic, they work very, very hard,” and they deserve a treat, he said.

“I imagine in two years we’ll do it again,” when Disney is expected to release the final episode.

This enthusiasm is a measure of how deeply “Star Wars” culture has permeated the popular imagination.

RELATED: Princes William and Harry filmed secret cameos in ‘Last Jedi’

It also reflects the age of the series. Many senior executives were teenagers when the first installment appeared in 1977. Now they’re bosses, and if they want to treat their employees, they can think of nothing lovelier.

“I’m 49, and half of the office will be that demographic,” said Rick Harber, chief problem solver at Decision Digital, which will also use the Force on Friday. “We’re the ones who grew up with the original stories.”

The 14 folks from the Sandy Springs office of Decision Digital will see the movie in 3-D at the Regal Perimeter Pointe Stadium 10 in Dunwoody. Harber’s company builds and supports computer networks for midsized companies, and he suggests that “Star Wars” has special appeal for the techie demographic. “In the IT business, people seem a little more predisposed to being science fiction fans,” he said.

Certainly the tech support geniuses at Cox Media Group, of which The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is a part, feel the same way. About 50 or so IT professionals from CMG will attend the movie Friday — the third year in a row they’ve celebrated the holidays with a day at the theater.

The only challenge for some attendees is that a work-related trip to the theater means they won’t be seeing the premiere with some family members. “There will be spoiler requirements in my household,” said Somers, of Cardlytics, whose son, Jack, 18, doesn’t want to hear about it.

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