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Dying man saw the new ‘Star Wars’ movie ahead of scheduled release


"He said he was just so very, very happy and couldn't believe it," the hospice CEO said of the terminally ill man's reaction.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 24: (L-R) Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Keri Russell, Naomi Ackie, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Producer Kathleen Kennedy, and Director/producer/writer J.J. Abrams of ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ took part today in the Walt Disney Studios presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2019 in Anaheim, Calif. ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ will be released in U.S. theaters on December 20, 2019. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

(NBC NEWS) — A terminally ill “Star Wars” fan watched “The Rise of Skywalker” on Friday — nearly three weeks ahead of its scheduled release — from his hospice bed in southern England, the man’s caretakers said.

The middle-aged man was joined by his wife, two young sons and two brothers in the patient’s room to see the latest “Star Wars” movie, according to Rowans Hospice Chief Executive Ruth White.

“They were overwhelmed, the amount of joy he said he experienced. He said he was just so very, very happy and couldn’t believe it,” White told NBC News. “It was unbelievable that this has been mobilized so very, very quickly.”

Hospice employee Lisa Davies recently spotted a “Star Wars” tattoo on the man’s leg, which launched efforts to bring the movie to his room, according to White.

The hospice tweeted the dying man’s request on Tuesday and the viral campaign got a Twitter boost from actor Mark Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker. It took just 48 hours for Disney, the company that controls the “Star Wars” franchise, to grant it.

“On this Thanksgiving, we at @Disney are grateful to be able to share #TheRiseOfSkywalker with a patient and his family @RowansHospice,” Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger tweeted on Thursday. “May the force be with you and with us all!”

Then on Friday, a Disney representative arrived at Rowans Hospice in Waterlooville — a small town 70 miles south of London — with a black bag that contained a hard drive with the much-anticipated movie, White said.

After everyone in the room signed non-disclosure agreements, the man and his loved ones watched “The Rise of Skywalker” on a large iPad, before Disney rep left with the hard drive, according to White.

“It is a bittersweet, of course,” White said, declining to specify the man’s illness. “People were smiling and everyone was so happy. But there’s also tears in our eyes, too, because of the poignancy of the situation.”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is scheduled to hit big screens in the United States on Dec. 20.

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