Things were kicked off in pretty splendid fashion with the opening ceremonies where J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy spoke about working on the much anticipated movie, our three new heroes took the stage, the droid builders got their due, and (most of) the classic cast came out to thunderous applause. Oh…and there was some teaser or whatever. Heard it wasn’t anything good…kidding, IT WAS MASSIVELY AMAZING. Look for my non-caps recaps of the event and the trailer below.
Funneling all the fans into the main stage and simulcast stages took a little longer than they anticipated and the event was delayed a tad, but I got to spend that extended time in line with an awesomely nice couple from New Zealand, so delays aren’t always a bad thing. But the ceremonies used the shorter time wisely and had a good enough host that kept the proceedings running smoothly until the eagerly awaited second teaser. Throughout the presentation, they showed off several behind the scenes shots from filming of the movie, with a shot of Peter Mayhew in full on Chewbacca costume eliciting the most cheers.
JJ and KK spent most of their time thanking fans and talking about the more practical effect aspects of The Force Awakens. Kathleen even promised a lot more female characters on the way, as they met the vocal criticism of spare female cast initially announced with the now historic (and somewhat infamous) first cast photo. They also brought up the rather awesome story of Kennedy’s hiring of two R2 Builders and they were brought on stage to show off their TFA R2 (designed with specifications from JJ himself) and discuss what it was like to be part of the movie.
When they rolled out BB-8, he might as well have been the equivalent of bringing Harrison Ford out on stage. There had frequently been talk about BB-8 being a real prop, but it was pretty hard to believe when seeing him in the first teaser; That’s all been laid to rest after he was shown off in the flesh, as it where, rolling about the stage. It’s a truly amazing and baffling design, something which the filmmakers reportedly admit they got outside help to make him. While waiting in line for The Untold Clone Wars panel later that day, I met with several fans, including Cap Blackard from NerdyShow.com (which I might appear on a little Q&A segment we did in line, which I’ll link to when it goes up) hinting at the Sphero company, who have made a spherical droid you can control with your own smartphone on a smaller scale, to be the ones behind BB-8. It also helps that Darpa wanted to militarize their work, which means they must’ve been working on a larger scale version at some point…at least that’s what a gentleman nearby informed us about. Either way, glad to have BB-8 onboard. UPDATE: Fortune reveals, through a conversation with KK, that Bob Iger actually did get Sphero for BB-8.
My favorite moment had to be the new cast taking center stage for a little while, as it’s a historical moment to have our new Big Three to be all together for the first time. Oscar Issac has been doing a lot of late night circuits for his other work, so finally seeing Daisy Ridley and John Boyega where the biggest draws for me. Both proved to be engageable and entertaining personalities, seemingly almost as excited by the new film as the fans are, with a standout moment being Boyega’s tale of Ford’s reaction to him requesting a signature on one of Solo toys, which he mimicked in a hilarious impression of Ford. Daisy got to tease her scavenger character, Boyega dodged the stormtrooper question, again, and Issacs showed off his reaction to receiving the part; Their brief discussions make me more excited to see them carrying on the franchise as the movies go on.
Of course having the new stormtroopers stomp out onto the stage was a blast, followed shortly by the big moment: Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Mark Hamill. They thanked the fans just as much as anyone (with Fisher thanking all of us for playing with her…action figure). Seeing them excited for the film was another nice touch, but having them stand arm in arm with the new cast, droids and all, was practically the icing on the cake.
However, that honor goes to the second TFA teaser, which by now, everyone has likely seen. But holy crap, from the opening shot of the downed Star Destroyer to the final shot of Han and Chewie on the Falcon, there were so many new reveals and scenes that it’s amazing we still know as little as we did after the first teaser. Okay, we know a little bit more now, but still, they’ve been cutting the teasers wonderfully, keeping the plot, characters, and everything else under wraps as per JJ’s mystery box ways. Who is Luke talking to? Where’s home for Chewie and Han (the Falcon, a planet, a bar)? Who is in charge of The First Order (check out the TFA Exhibit impressions for that new detail!)? Jakku has a big battle over it at some point and why (It’ll be in the Battlefront game)? And the most important question: Why isn’t it December yet? (As of this writing, the trailer has 12 million views already!)
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