The newest Star Wars stars discuss Celebration, their Star Wars histories, filming The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams and more behind the scenes in Anaheim. There’s also video with Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels, and Mark Hamill and Peter Mayhew.
The atmosphere here in Anaheim for the reveal of yesterday’s new trailer for The Force Awakens was amazing, perhaps the top Celebration moment ever for me. The crowds are insane, the Arena was huge and we were up on the third tier, but the excitement was palpable. And the trailer itself… Well, you saw it.
I doubt I’ll be able to put together any coherent thoughts about it while still at con, but thankfully there are plenty of others who’ve taken on the task. We also saw several behind-the scenes photos (Hitfix has the gallery) for the very first time.
For a general overview, check out Christian Blauvelt’s take over at the BBC, or the shot-by-shot analysis at Vulture. Meanwhile, Devin Faraci at Badass Digest is pretty sure that BB-8 will be the film’s breakout character, and I’d find it hard to argue with him – I don’t think anyone was disappointed when the droid rolled out on stage. Magnets, what can’t they do?
Another big draw here is The Force Awakens exhibit, which mostly features items we’ve seen the trailer, but is still amazing. And it reveals at least one thing that immediately caught the interest of supergeeks – new names for what has become of Empire and the Rebel Alliance. The Imperials of TFA will go by ‘the First Order,’ while the Rebels are now ‘the Resistance.’ Curious, no?
And as for Jakku, the desert planet we saw in the teaser? Well, the battle that downed that Star Destroyer is one “not long after the Battle of Endor,” and it’ll be downloadable for the Battlefront game on December 8.
And with that, we’ll leave word from John Boyega, who returned to Twitter yesterday:
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) April 16, 2015
A couple of quick updates this morning: We’ve learned at Celebration that Alexander Freed will be writing Battlefront: Twilight Company, the November novel from Del Rey.
(The actual Battlefront game was this morning’s big draw, but more on how that’s relevant to us later. )
Marvel has been dropping their news ahead of their panel as well. First we learned that a Lando Calrissian limited series will follow Princess Leia. It’ll be from Charles Soule and Alex Maleev and issue #1 comes out in July.
And this morning, some Shattered Empire details. The limited series will be written by (as we knew) Greg Rucka, with art and cover from Marco Chechetto. (Is the Phil Noto piece just a variant?)
The Del Rey and Marvel panels are tomorrow, so no doubt we’ll learn more then.
J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy’s “special guests” included the new trio – Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac – who confirmed some of what we’d already heard and/or guessed about their characters. We also got to see the (real!) BB-8 and Artoo, plus their makers, and of course Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Peter Mayhew also showed up. I’ll be back later with more, but for now just keep an eye on @clubjade, where I’ve been far more active than on the blog. (Sorry!)
In the meantime, you can backwatch the panel yourself!
And another video that StarWars.com dropped on us today:
Here’s just the BB-8 portion of the livestream:
Fans started picking up their badges in Anaheim today, and a sign pointing towards The Force Awakens Exhibit was soon spotted. Here’s the description:
I figured we ought to get this out of the way before Celebration and whatever they chose to drop on us. Remember your hashtags (#SWCA! #TheForceAwakens! #StarWaraRebels! #SWEU!) and be funny, kids.
The latest – maybe last? – batch of item reveals for the Celebration Anaheim store are here, and now they include the first bit of The Force Awakens swag. (A portion of the proceeds will go to UNICEF as a part of Force for Change.) There’s also a nifty Rebels crew jacket, some messenger bags, and a few other curiosities.
Just in the nick of time, we have the Celebration announcement we knew was coming: The con will be streamed live on StarWars.com. Beginning with the J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy’s panel, they promise “30-plus hours of live streamed content.”
Here are a few of the things they’ll be showing:
…Discussions with actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Ian McDiarmid, and several other performers associated with the Star Wars saga. Additionally, StarWars.com and Verizon will be live streaming the Star Wars Fan Film Awards; the Smuggler’s Bounty radio drama; EA’s new Battlefront videogame; and several other exclusive Celebration events that might otherwise be missed by members from Star Wars’ global fan community.
StarWars.com will also have live interviews with celebrity guests in a “Star Wars Cantina set.” It all begins at at 10:00 a.m. PST, Thursday, April 16.
There are a few unofficial events you might want to add to your schedule: The Podcast Listener Meet-Up Thursday evening, hosted by our friends at Full of Sith, and #AhsokaLives Day on Friday, when Ahsoka-decked fans will meet for a group photo at 3 p.m. by the convention center’s fountain. And don’t forget to wear your tackiest gear on Saturday to honor Aaron Allston.
Amy Ratcliffe has a nice overview of tips at StarWars.com, and she covers at lot of Anaheim-specific stuff that we’re not quite up to yet. Another good overview is the visual guide from Parks and Cons, including a walk around the convention center from Monday afternoon.
On that note, many of our own convention tips have been updated for Celebration Anaheim, most extensively lines and the autograph hall. Our most popular tips include photographing fans in costume, avoiding con crud, basic human decency 101 and a quick guide to Q&As.
→ James is one of the masterminds behind the Bounty Hunt. This probably isn’t the place to catch him for a chat, but if you want a spot there’ll be some limited registration on-site at the Marriott next to the convention center. He’ll also be on the panels From a Certain Point of View, and Building a Thriving Local Fan Club on Sunday.
→ I’ll be on Friday’s Star Wars Journalism panel, and I also hope to make the Podcast Listener meetup.
→ There will be other Jaders around… Maybe you’ll see them.
→ Yes, we have buttons! I’ll have the logo and #beardwatch buttons on me at all times, but I’ll only take Yub Yub Commander out on Saturday – so try and make the Tribute to Aaron Allston. We only have a limited supply of Yub Yub and #beardwatch, plus a few remaining SPF 66 ones from last Celebration.
There’s almost always been only one formal track at Celebration, the one for collectors, but the truth is there are usually several informal tracks, and I’ve collected a few on different subjects here. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list by any means, but if you’re still confused the schedule, consider these suggestions for Anaheim.