SACO – Fans of the popular 23rd-century saga “Star Trek” came out by the hundreds Wednesday night as Saco Cinemagic treated them to an early special screening of the latest installment in the pop-culture phenomenon, “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

Many dressed in garb from the TV show and movie series, they began lining up in the early afternoon and flooded the theater when doors opened at 6:30 p.m. for an IMAX 3D screening that began at 8 p.m.

Saco Cinemagic was among fewer than 300 theaters nationwide, and the only one in Maine, that screened the movie Wednesday. It opens widely Thursday.

“There’s been a great deal of anticipation for this movie,” said theater general manager Bob Collins. “It’s a special event for us and the ‘Star Trek’ saga. We’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.”

Among those who turned out in uniform was Brad Siegel of Cumberland. He’s been a fan of the TV show since its early days and has seen all the movies. He was wearing a gold jersey similar to those worn by the crew of the Enterprise, the star ship that is home to the “Star Trek” crew.

Asked why he dressed up, he compared himself to fans of the Boston Red Sox or Boston Bruins who wear the colors of their favorite sports teams.

“There’s a personal connection, a philosophy and a feeling among people who are fans of ‘Star Trek’ that’s very positive,” he said. “We like to share that with each other.”

As he talked, he flashed the Vulcan salute — a friendly hand gesture — to a fellow Trekker walking through the theater lobby.At the other end of the spectrum was 16-year-old Olivia Bradstreet of Old Orchard Beach. She’s a new member of “Star Trek” fandom. She’s seen the TV shows, and became a fan in 2009 when the last movie came out.

For Wednesday’s screening, she wore a red “Star Trek” dress that her father made for her when she was 12.

“I’ve been anticipating this for four years. It’s very exciting,” she said, clutching her ticket stub.

The new movie is a major development for those people who care about such things. “Star Trek Into Darkness” is expected to be the top movie at the box office this weekend, according to predictions in E! magazine.

Wednesday’s screening drew fans from across the state and the Canadian Maritimes.

Directed by J.J. Abrams, “Into Darkness” is the only big new opening on the docket this week, and should knock “Iron Man 3” and “The Great Gatsby” down to the second and third spots in the box-office receipts lineup.

Abrams also directed the 2009 “Star Trek” movie.

The new film stars Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock. Benedict Cumberbatch, of “Sherlock” fame, plays a mysterious desperado who plots the demise of the spaceship Enterprise.

The movie is full of action and drama, a bit of romance and lots of high-tech hijinks.

“I grew up on ‘Star Trek,”‘ said Jeff Barber of York. “I’ve been waiting for this since the last movie came out.”

His companion, Lisa Hancher of York, added, “I’m here to see Benedict Cumberbatch. I’m a huge fan of his.”

Siegel appreciates the level of detail and dedication that Abrams has brought to the project. The movie is full of references that die-hard fans will appreciate, while staying true to the characters and characteristics of the early TV series, he said.

“We’ve heard that he has tried to create a film that would introduce ‘Star Trek’ to a whole new world of fans, but folks like me will still appreciate,” he said. “I just hope it keeps me on my seat from beginning to end.”

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes

Correction: This story was updated at 11:45 a.m., May 16, 2013, to correctly identify Olivia Bradstreet, whose father made her red “Star Trek” dress when she was 12.

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