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Back in 2012 when Disney acquired Lucasfilm, it was announced that there would be a seventh Star Wars movie. Three years later, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had its world premiere in Hollywood on Monday night.
Security was a big concern at the event, with guests having to go through metal detectors while LAPD officers were on hand monitoring the event with sniffer dogs. A large white tent completely covered the carpet, meaning that fans hoping for a peek of Kylo Ren, Poe Dameron and Captain Phasma were ultimately disappointed.
The iconic John Williams score blared over loud speakers as 12 Stormtroopers marching in step made their way onto the carpet. After this show of strength from the Dark Side, R2-D2 and C-3PO walked down the carpet together, stopping every few feet for photographers, while BB-8, The Force Awakens’ standout star from the trailers — rolled his way past the press, not stopping for interviews.
The J.J. Abrams-directed space epic brings back old favorites — including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher — alongside newcomers including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie and Adam Driver, all of whom were on hand to celebrate the premiere of the most anticipated movie of the year.
“I campaigned for about six months, trying to be seen for it,” Christie told THR about getting an audition and finally winning the role of Captain Phasma.
Phasma is the first prominent female villain in the Star Wars movie franchise. Of the role, Christie said: “When I saw that I would be wearing practical Stormtrooper armor, I thought, ‘Are they really being this modern?’ then realized that this character was a step forward because we would be relating to a character because of her choices rather than how she is made in flesh.”
Ridley, who plays Rey, the film’s heroine, echoed Christie’s sentiment of playing strong female characters in a notoriously male-dominated franchise. “It is nice because they are just real people,” she said.
Though the actress has already seen the film, she professed her excitement about the night’s screening, saying, “I have gotten to watch the film a few times in the past few weeks but this is the first time I will be to do so with an audience. I am really excited to see it with other people!”
The film has been shrouded in secrecy since its inception, with plot and character details being kept under wraps. The premiere is the first large-scale screening of the film, which will show at the TCL Chinese, El Capitan and Dolby theaters.
Isaac, who plays Rebel fighter pilot Poe Dameron, told THR that, although it was difficult, he was happy to keep such a big secret for so long.
“You know, it’s like a gift,” he explains. “When you buy a gift for somebody, you don’t want to tell them what’s inside of it before you give it to them. You want them to have the experience.”
“The key reason we did it is because the fans really wanted to make sure things were kept secret. They didn’t want to be told anything,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “Nowadays we are kind of spoon-fed everything and the trailers show you all the good parts of the movie, and we knew that wouldn’t work for this Star Wars.”
Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Co., explained the need for such secrecy, saying, “It was all part of a plan that we created a while ago. Part of it was to manage expectations and part of it was to preserve the experience.” He continued: “I have seen the film 10 times, but never with other people. I am here to watch other people watch the movie.”
The first Star Wars film came out in 1977 and went on to change the way Hollywood looked at blockbuster movies, box-office revenue and technological effects.
When asked if The Force Awakens will have the same effect on the industry, Iger was reluctant to say it would: “I don’t think it will change Hollywood forever, I think it would be presumptuous of us to say that. I do think it will change Disney forever.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens on Dec. 18.
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