Star Wars Celebration

JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy Kick Off Star Wars Celebration

We have a new teaser trailer! And it has Han Solo and Chewbacca!

Star Wars fans began lining up Wednesday evening at the Anaheim Convention Center in order to secure their place in line for the first panel on Thursday morning to kick off the beginning of Star Wars Celebration this weekend in Anaheim. The effort was not in vain as guests JJ Abrams, director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm, discussed the new film and direction of the Star Wars franchise.

And, to the delight of the entire audience, they revealed a new teaser trailer. And replayed it again following a standing ovation.

Of course the trailer was saved until the end and teased throughout the talk. The panel began with host Anthony Breznican, senior writer at Entertainment Weekly, introducing Abrams and Kennedy. He then proceeded to ask Abrams about his earliest memories of Star Wars.

“The experience I had seeing star wars for the first time was mind blowing,” Abrams began. “I’ll never forget that feeling of seeing ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.’ And those words hit the screen with that incredible music. And it was that moment on that transported me. It had such heart. And the biggest thing for me is that it had such hope.”

R2-D2 and new droid BB8 made an appearance at the panel on Thursday.
R2-D2 and new droid BB8 made an appearance at the panel on Thursday.

As many who have been following  the production of Star Wars: The Force Awakens know, JJ Abrams made it public that this new chapter  of the Star Wars series would employ traditional production techniques  such as set construction and location shots. It was a creative decision that he was brought up by Breznican.

“Star Wars has always pushed the boundaries of visual effects,” he stated, “but you’re kinda taking a retro approach this time around. You build a lot of practical sets. “

Immediately, there was thunderous applause. “I hear people like that!” laughed Breznican.

“That’s an awesome reaction,” began Abrams. “The thing that struck me and it wouldn’t get out of my head is just how real you knew and felt Star Wars was when you first saw A New Hope. And that feeling of actually being in—whether they were shooting in Tunisia or various physical tangible sets—you couldn’t deny it. You know, its Star Wars. There will be an endless number of visual effects, but we needed a standard. And we needed to set a standard that was real and you knew those people were in those places.”

Naturally, the audience applauded again.

Abrams and Kennedy talked at length about process of creating the new film, an endeavor that Abrams admitted he initially rejected because of the monumental challenge it would be to create a film fans would love. They also discussed their philanthropy through Lucasfilm and Star Wars: Force For Change, including a brand new partnership.

“We’re going to join forces with a program called kid power. In fact I’m wearing one of the wrist bands right now,” explained Kennedy as she held up her band. “Kids wear these bands. After you take so many steps, it actually triggers a therapeutic, packet of food for children who are malnourished all over the world. And this is a program that we’re hoping will become a movement.”

New cast members for The Force Awakens discuss their characters with the audience.
New cast members for The Force Awakens discuss their characters with the audience.

Eventually Abrams and Kennedy brought out cast members Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, and John Boyega. Each was asked about their characters by Breznican, who fielded questions that fans had submitted previously while waiting in line the night before or who posted on Facebook or Twitter. Naturally, everyone wanted to know about the mysterious origins and motivations about each of their characters.

After being pried (jokingly) about their characters and various plot elements of the new film, they were followed by Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, and Mark Hamil. Once again, the fans showed their love by showering the actors with a standing ovation.

“From the beginning you stayed with us all the way,” commented Daniels. “And now, there is even more of you joined in the fun. There is three generations of you that love this story.” And he expressed his and the rest of the cast’s graciousness to the fans in attendance. “Thank you for your kindness, your support, and your affection.”

Cast members from the original Star Wars trilogy come together to discuss the new film at Star Wars Celebration.
Cast members from the original Star Wars trilogy come together to discuss the new film at Star Wars Celebration.

After posing for a quick group photo that brought old Star Wars characters and new amid a group of stormtroopers in the background, Abrams and Kennedy came out one last time to address the audience.

“We have one more thing! Don’t leave the hall!” exclaimed Kennedy.

“Who wants to see a new teaser?” Abrams asked to an ecstatic crowd. “On behalf of Kathy and myself, and everyone watching who is not here. We cannot thank you enough. The energy you are throwing are way is evidence of the force and we couldn’t be more grateful.”

From there, the moment was chilling. As the score played, the room fell silent while the atmosphere of anticipation became epidemic. You could hear how mesmerized everyone in the audience was. And as images of X-Wings and the Millenium Falcon filled the screen, they began to cheer. And in one moment, they grew silent in surprise. Han Solo and Chewbacca appeared. The applause could not be more thunderous. They shouted for the trailer to be seen again, and of course it played once more following a standing ovation.

So here we are, eight more months away from the release of the next Star Wars movie. If you are not excited now, you should be. December cannot come soon enough.

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Aaron Zamora

Aaron grew up in Whittier, California and is currently finishing his master's degree in Human Communication studies from California State University, Fullerton. His interest in journalism began in high school where he served as the Editor-in-Chief for his school’s newspaper and participated in their inaugural broadcast journalism program. An avid world traveler, Aaron has a wide array of interest that include a passion for cinema and television. He is also a sports fanatic.

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