To open up the 2015 Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim California, LucasFilm and Disney brought their A game. With new and old cast, pictures from the set, new droids, and the crown jewel in the form of a new teaser, The Force Awakens Panel showed us just enough to get excited about, but still kept up the suspense.
Starting out slowly, host Anthony Breznican from EW, brought out JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy to talk a little bit about how they got started with Lucasfilm and the project. Much of this was information they have shared in previous interviews, but it was nice to see how excited they were by the crowd, the event, and everything else. The point was also made that the event was being live streamed all over the world.
It was nice to hear Kennedy’s thoughts on new female characters and the importance JJ put on practical effects, but the first real treat came from new set pics and the announcement that the desert planet in Episode 7 was in fact NOT Tatooine, but a new planet call Jacku (or is that Jaku? Jakoo? There’s no official spelling at this time)
Next up came two fans who impressed the creators so much with their homemade R2D2, that they are now the Droid Builders for The Force Awakens. Lee Towersey & Oliver Steeples join them on stage, along with a practical, working R2D2 that was apparently the one used in the film. They take a few questions about making small redesigns to R2, and well as showing off pictures of new droid domes created to fit on the back of practical X-Wings props.
Breznican then tries to shoo them off stage, but not before the first of the new characters rolls in. BB8, the ball droid from the first teaser comes on stage. This was an actual, working prop that, like R2, was used on set. It was great to see the little guy in action and interacting with R2.
All of this so far was nothing compared to the excitement that came next. First by using new screen shots of the characters, Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), and Oscar Issacs (Poe) all make an appearance. They talk a little about their histories with Star Wars, and then take fan questions. Boyage even lets a little tidbit of info apparently slip, much to JJ’s displeasure, but then the two laugh it off (no spoilers here, but I’m sure the rumor is already flying around the internet). The fan questions are fun, and there is even a handful of new set pictures, but this is all just a precursor to the main event.
The three new cast members, JJ, and KK all hurry off, as a platoon of brand new stormtroopers in full armor march in and around they stage before lining up in the back. At this time, Breznican brings out all the returning original cast members, expect Harrison Ford. First is Anthony Daniels, followed by Carrie Fischer and then Peter Mayhew, walking with a lightsaber cane while Mark Hamill walks him to his seat. All the actors get long standing ovations and each gets asked a question and has a little time to speak.
The original cast are very gracious to the fans and they seem to be having a lot of fun, both interacting with the crowd as well as each other. All to soon though, its over, and they bring everyone back on for a giant group picture, before dropping the biggest bomb of all. A new teaser trailer for The Force Awakens, to close out the show!
Overall, it was a great start to the 2015 Celebration event. They provided a proper amount of new information, with out going overboard, but also made sure to keep it focused on the fans and everyone’s love for Star Wars. December has never seemed so far away.