Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 News Roundup Part I: The Last Jedi, Rebels Season 4, 40th Anniversary Panels, and More! (UPDATED)

As usual, surprises and big reveals are sure to be abound at this year’s Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017, and already Lucasfilm has announced we can be on the lookout for updates on The Last Jedi, the 4th season of Star Wars Rebels, 40th Anniversary surprises, an exclusive Thrawn novel cover, limited video game showings, and dozens of autographs to line up for. Check out the details below!

The Last Jedi panel will actually be on the second day (Friday, April 14) of SWCO and the only people confirmed for it right now are Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and TLJ director Rian Johnson. But, if Anaheim 2015’s The Force Awakens Opening Ceremonies and Europe 2016’s Rogue One Panel are anything to go by, we’ll get to see a large part of the cast, including some of the new actors/actresses. While Harrison Ford not being there is expected, there will be a giant hole no matter how much of the cast shows up due to the absence of Carrie Fisher after her shocking passing late December; I’m sure there will be plenty of moments to honor and remember her life and contribution to the saga throughout the weekend and I expected some of that in the TLJ panel. As for expected news and reveals, not only should we get our first teaser, but we’ll also get updates on new heroes like Rey, Finn, and Poe, and likewise probably learn (at the very least) names for characters played by Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran. Johnson previously appeared to talk TLJ at SWCE ’16’s Future Filmmakers panel, where he gave a list of films that he said inspired his upcoming addition to the franchise. There’s mention of wristbands being necessary for the panel and both SWCA and SWCE had versions of wristband queuing and I enjoyed SWCE’s more since it allowed you to pick and choose your most important panel that day, giving you the peace of mind you wouldn’t miss out once you got a wristband.

The first marquee panel of the convention (Thursday, April 13) will be centered on the big milestone the franchise passed this year: its 40th Anniversary! The official site’s announcement about the panel promises, “…many not-to-be-missed surprises,” which of course sparked the perennial rumor of a HD release of the unaltered original trilogy, but that has once again been squashed. The nice thing about this tease for the panel is we really don’t have any idea what type of surprise fans will be in for, but I can imagine whatever it is, it’ll certainly be one we’ll be talking about for awhile.

As the third season of Star Wars Rebels comes to close by the end of March, it’s recently announced 4th season means we can once again expect to see new details about the show at Celebration. Will they once again air the season premiere, much like they have the last two years? If they do, you can bet I’ll make sure to catch it and get a review up on the Manor as soon as I can over the Celebration weekend! As for what we can expect, we’ll have a better idea by S3’s end, but the big questions for another season include: will we get to see Sabine and her Mandalorian family fighting against the Empire, will Thrawn still be the main villain, and how much more of the formation of the Rebel Alliance will we get to see? UPDATE: The Rebels S4 panel will be Saturday’s main event (April 15) and Dave Filoni will be joined by mystery guests for it! Still no word on if the premiere for the next season will also make an appearance. UPDATE 2: Half of the season premiere made played and here’s my review!

Timothy Zahn’s return to Star Wars comes April 11 with Thrawn, the novel about the eponymous character’s path to his appearance on Star Wars Rebels, and the novel is getting fancy with special covers. There’s the traditional white cover with Thrawn’s face and name prominently on it, a Barnes & Noble black variant of said cover, and a SWCO special cover edition that comes with a “special gift” which is probably worth its extra price tag. I had planned on getting the book to read on my flight to Florida, but I might wait to pick up this SWCO edition depending on the gift (but if someone wants me to grab a copy, I’ll certainly try if I don’t get one myself/there’s not a one per person limit). FYI, there’s also an excerpt of its second chapter and boy does it end on a bit of surprising note!

Video games will be part of SWCO of course, but it seems EA is doing its best to temper expectations by only announcing a handful of developers, which none of them include Visceral Games or Respawn Entertainment, two studios working on the next big Star Wars games we know very little about. If there will be any big announcements out of SWCO for gaming, it’ll be all Battlefront II (2017) related, considering it’ll be releasing later this year. There might not be much more than a teaser trailer, details on the single-player campaign, and a theater experience like at Anaheim 2015, but the giant gaming conference E3 2017 is in June and I expected a lot more will be revealed there than at SWCO. Besides being disappointed that we won’t learn anything about the more enticing and elusive games from the other studios this year, this might be the first Celebration I’ve been to and not get a chance to run into video game industry icon Amy Hennig (who did say they would be going to ground in her talk at SWCE last year {at the 33:15 mark-ish}). I’m still holding out hope we’ll get an announcement about seeing something from ILMxLab’s Darth Vader VR project, because if Trials on Tatooine was anything to go by, VR and Star Wars is a potent mix! UPDATE 3/21: Well, I might be wrong about nothing from Visceral Games and I’m totally okay with that. Not only is the current rumor for the gaming panel to be focused on Battlefront II‘s singleplayer (which I already theorized above), but Visceral might be bringing at the very least a teaser trailer for their game. Let’s hope this rumor turns out to be true!

There’ll be plenty of more news regarding what to expect at Celebration Orlando 2017 in the coming weeks and we’ll be covering live from the show floor in April!

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

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