Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere – Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill joined by droids and Stormtroopers on the red carpet

'I feel enormously guilty for this community, this neighborhood,' said director JJ Abrams

The next generation of Star Wars films has kicked off with an elaborate debut for The Force Awakens that served as a proverbial passing of the lightsaber to new groups of fighters dueling in a cinematic galaxy far, far away.

The Force Awakens premiere had familiar elements for a Star Wars event: Stormtroopers marched and droids rolled down the red carpet, with C-3PO greeting fans and new addition BB-8 playing up for the cameras. Later, Carrie Fisher joked for cameras and Harrison Ford and Lupita Nyong'o reflected on the next phase of the franchise.

The world's first screening of the seventh Star Wars film attracted a constellation of stars, including Spike Lee, Jon Favreau, Janelle Monae, Elizabeth Banks and Sofia Vergara. Most opted for the usual elegant red carpet attire, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt showed up in Yoda PJs.

John Williams' soaring score played in a massive opaque tent that built on years of secrecy surrounding the film, which is expected to break box office records when it is released later this week.

At one point, Fisher turned the microphone on her co-star, Oscar Isaac, and conducted an interview that included her dropping an expletive.

Ford reflected on the impact of the film and the role that catapulted him to superstardom.

“Well, in the '70s nobody knew what to anticipate,” Ford said in an interview with Starwars.com. “Nobody had ever seen anything like it. Now we have to live up to what the first films delivered.”

Before the film's human stars arrived, the droid BB-8 rolled by the cameras. The soccerball-esque droid has been a popular fixture in trailers for the seventh Star Wars film, and it was soon joined by series mainstays C-3PO and R2-D2.

Despite being in charge of The Force Awakens for the past three years, director JJ Abrams seemed overwhelmed by the magnitude of the premiere.

“It's very surreal. I've never seen this kind of thing,” he told Starwars.com. “It's insane. I feel enormously guilty for this community, this neighborhood.”

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

The carpet melded classic Star Wars figures with the new generation that will carry the weight of two more sequels, video games, comic books, toys and other merchandise.

Abrams and Lucas posed together for photos, and both men took time to chat with fans before heading into the premiere. Original trilogy cast members Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams attended, as did series newcomers Max von Sydow, Gwendolyn Christie, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley.

Disney took over a half-mile section of Hollywood Boulevard for the premiere, where the film was screening at three theaters. Some 5,000 invited guests would see the characters Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo reunite for the first time on the big screen since 1983's Return of the Jedi.

In bleachers set up on the boulevard, some fans dressed as X-Wing pilots while others donned outfits from new The Force Awakens characters.

For those without tickets to the premiere, the most they could see was the outside of the tent.

“We're really disappointed because we are big Star Wars fans, and we were hoping to at least see a little of the celebrities,” said Natalie Arnet, a tourist from Paris.

“I understand the need for security,” Arnet said.

But for a lifelong Star Wars fan, it was tough being that close to the premiere and not getting a better look. “I wanted to see the old cast members because I grew up with these films,” she said.

Actors Chadwick Boseman and Sarah Hyland, and director Steven Spielberg were among the Hollywood stars who attended what could be the largest Hollywood premiere ever. One of the participating theaters — the iconic TCL Chinese — hosted the premiere of the original Star Wars in 1977.

Spielberg praised the Star Wars franchise, saying he knew when the first film was released that it would be an enduring hit. “It was a slow burn, but I knew it would never go away,” Spielberg told Starwars.com.

AP

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in