Photos: The Force Awakens exhibit at Celebration Anaheim

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You couldn’t step into The Force Awakens exhibit without seeing at least a dozen cameras snapping away, so I have no doubt you’ve seen much of this already. There may be many like it, but under the cut is mine.

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The Force Awakens catchup: BB-8, livestream highlights and more

swca-bb8-jj-kkThe New York Times had a great feature on BB-8 over Celebration weekend, revealing two things. First, that the version during filming was “a prop built on rollers” – not the fully functional one we saw on stage last week. As mentioned by Kathleen Kennedy onstage, Disney CEO Bob Iger connected the dots, bringing in Sphero to help produce a practical model. And secondly, that a mini toy version – about the size of an apple and controlled via smartphone – will be in stores this holiday season. Bigger versions will (naturally) show up at Disney Parks. Of course, if you can’t wait that long, you can always get a Sphero and make your own….

→ Also in the NYT, a nice look at the folks behind Celebration and Star Wars, including Mary Franklin and Matt Martin.

→ StarWars.com has posted many of the livestream bits (Day 1, 2, 3, 4) as standalone videos: Interviews with Bob Iger, Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Peter Mayhew and John Knoll and a very beardy teaser breakdown

→ Tosche Station were MVPs this Celebration. They have a thank you to Kathleen Kennedy and a nice roundup of what we learned about The Force Awakens. They also recorded several panels, including John Jackson Miller’s Writing in a Shared Universe, an interview with Ashley Eckstein, the (painful) canon panel, Star Wars Journalism, Del Rey, the Aaron Allston tribute and What Leia Means To Me

→ Mike Cooper at Eleven-ThirtyEight didn’t join us in Anaheim, but he did do some analysis of the teaser and other things we learned about TFA there.

→ An ode to Gary Fisher.

Riz Ahmed, Sam Claflin in talks to join Rogue One?

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Badass Digest reports that Nightcrawler’s Riz Ahmed is in talks to join the Rogue One ensemble. They also compare the film to Dirty Dozen and Magnificent Seven – in the sense that we can expect a sizable main cast – so I expect we’ll be seeing quite a few new names before filming begins in a few months. Hell, not long after the Ahmed news dropped, The Wrap reported that Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games) “is being eyed” for a role.

Felicity Jones is so far the only announced cast member for the film, but we’ve also heard that Ben Mendelsohn is in play. The film features a “band of resistance fighters” who steal the Death Star plans, we learned on Sunday.

John Boyega roamed the Celebration Anaheim floor in disguise

Moving through the crowds at celebration grabbing all the merchandise a fan boy needs.

A video posted by @john_boyega on

The Force Awakens star John Boyega returned to Twitter and Instagram on Thursday, where he revealed – after the fact – that he’d spent some time roving the convention while wearing a clone trooper helmet.

Who’s the lucky fan who got to duel with him, I wonder?

UPDATE: He wasn’t the only one

Celebration going back to London for 2016!

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Celebration is winding down here in Anaheim, and it was just announced at the Closing Ceremonies that the next one will return us to London’s ExCel, the site of the first Celebration Europe back in 2007. It’ll be July 15-17, 2016, and tickets will go sale tomorrow.

We’re also seeing the return of Fan Relations, with Lucasfilm vet Pete Vilmur at the helm.

Big thanks go out to Mary Franklin and all the folks at Lucasfilm and Reed for bringing all this to us!

Celebration Anaheim: Gareth Edwards, Rogue One and the ‘Anthology’ films

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We got a decent look ahead at Rogue One today, as Lucasfilm gave us a description and a brief teaser trailer for Rogue One. We even got an official name for what we’ve been calling ‘spinoffs’ and ‘standalones:’ They’ll be ‘Anthology’ movies. The panel consisted of Pablo Hidaldo (doing his best Letterman act,) Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Story Group lead Kiri Hart, director Gareth Edwards and ILM’s John Knoll, who originated the idea.

The trailer isn’t online yet and isn’t likely to (not officially, anyway) but here’s the description:

A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans in Star Wars Anthology film, Rogue One.

Felicity Jones’ character is a Rebel soldier, and it’s set in the ROTS/ANH gap, though closer to ANH.

The teaser, which was produced by ILM since they won’t start filming until the summer, featured a pan across a forest, a TIE fighter, and a glimpse at the Death Star through the atmosphere. The voiceover was Obi-Wan’s lines about the Jedi from A New Hope, and “the absence of the Jedi is omnipresent in the film,” Edwards said. “It comes down to a group of individuals who don’t have magical powers that have to somehow bring hope to the galaxy.”

This will be very much a war movie, and the crew has people who’ve worked on Zero Dark Thirty, Saving Private Ryan, and Blackhawk Down. Edwards said he doubts he’ll ever be able to work with so many high caliber people again; Folks will drop anything to come work on Star Wars.

Pablo asked Edwards about his ‘geek cred,’ and Edwards revealed that he spent his 30th birthday going to Tunisia – even drinking blue milk at the Hotel Sidi Driss, where the Lars kitchen was filmed. There were pictures. They were adorable,

Josh Trank, who’s helming the next Anthology film, was “under the weather,” so we didn’t get anything for that.