Earlier this evening the Star Wars Celebration kicked off in Anaheim California. As part of the opening of the celebration an event was live-streamed on the internet and to 23 locations around the world. One of those locations was Movies@Dundrum, and thanks to Disney we were there.
The Dublin event included an appearance by the 501st Ireland Garrison, who came in full Stormtrooper and Imperial Guards costumes. This combined with the fact that Movies@ was bedecked in Star Wars posters and images, combined with t-shirts or costumes on the many fans in attendance gave this event a great buzz.
A rapt audience, both in Anaheim and in Ireland, was treated to a Q&A session hosted by Entertainment Weekly writer Anthony Breznican, with director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy the principal speakers. They were joined on stage by two droids (the loveable R2D2 and the incredible new BB8) and two droid mechanics to speak about how the whole venture came together and how they were insuring the Star Wars legacy, through practical effects, for a whole new generation. The movement of new droid BB8 in particular is astonishing. This is a robot with a fully spherical lower body whose head is magnetically levitated from the body and can move independently.
Kennedy and Abrams were then joined on stage by new actors Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), who gave vague descriptions of their characters and the manner in which we first encounter them in the film. This was accompanied by a number of stills from the film.
Not content with introducing the new stars, the celebration wheeled out some familiar faces as Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, and Anthony Daniels took to the stage. They were accompanied by a raft of newly redesigned Stormtroopers and spoke about the franchise and the fans over the last 40 years.
But it was the last surprise that was the most anticipated as Abrams and Kennedy unveiled the second teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with the Dublin audience demanding two encores to rapturous applause.
The event kicked off a four-day convention full of activities, with guest appearances by actors and crew, panels by set designers, autograph sessions, and “youngling lightsaber training.” There’s also a large market for Star Wars memorabilia and collectables at the Anaheim Celebration.