Star Wars: The Mouse Awakens

“Chewie, We’re home” .. and with those 3 words the audience erupts. ‘I suppose you want to see that again don’t you?’ inquire’s tonight’s compere, Star Wars alumni Warwick Davies ‘..and i was going to take you all out for a drink’. OF COURSE WE WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN WARWICK!  We’d just been treated to the world premiere of the second Teaser Trailer of Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens –  2 minutes of holding your breath and willing it to be good, 2 minutes of hushed silence and anticipation, 2 minutes of remembering a grainy copy of a copy of a trailer in 1999 before the absolute relief and the screaming and cheering. 

It really could have been so different though, to paraphrase the movies again “I have a bad feeling about this”. Except i never did, i recall a text message coming through, i recall something appearing on social media, i recall a sense of ‘huh?’ but i never had a sense of dread.. Not this time. This time was the announcement that Disney had purchased Star Wars and they had a plan.  

Fast forward a couple of years and we’re starting to see the fruits of this come alive. November had the first teaser trailer, soon after retro trading cards revealed further detail, we got a release date, a cast shot, it was finally an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan again. We’d all been there before though, and we’d all been burnt. At the time i convinced myself that the prequel trilogies were at least a match for the original ones (well, 2 of  them, The Phantom Menace was the weakest movie, but it was STILL A STAR WARS MOVIE and for that, excitement and wonderment) Now though, in the10 years after the curtain fell on the prequels we don’t have to pretend they exist anymore, we don’t need those movies, Disney have saved Star Wars.

Tonight’s event, prior to the trailer’s premiere was actually a worldwide live link up from the Star Wars Celebration event in Anaheim, we were there in London, There was France, Germany, Japan, even China – Star Wars’ very own world showcase. It started with a crowd shot, ‘Cantina Band’ accompanied our host – Entertainment Weekly’s’ Anthony Breznican as he arrived on stage, a brief introduction then J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy joined him. There was a buzz in the air, we were sitting the other side of the world and yet you could feel it, this was it. J.J.started, he told us he was a Star Wars fan, a nerd, he was one of us. His excitement to be working on this project was obvious, his passion to make it using sets and characters rather than CGI was met with relief, after all George Lucas’ use of CGI on the prequel trilogies was one of it’s major selling points at the time. 

Throughout the hour other stars of the movie joined them, from the new – Daisy Ridley (Rey) John Boyago (Finn) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) to the old – Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) Carrie Fisher (PRINCESS LEIA!) and Mark Hammill (LUKE SKYWALKER!)

We learn a little about the new stars – Daisy Ridley corrects the assumption that the desert planet Rey is seen on is not Tattooine by revealing it to be called Jukko and promising we’ll see more shortly. John Boyago reveals a story of taking his Han Solo Hoth action figure for Harrison Ford to autograph during filming. Oscar Isaac tells us of the moment he found out he’d won the part and used his shampoo bottle as a makeshift lightsaber to celebrate. 

Kathleen Kennedy takes the stories one step further with her tale of attending a similar event in Germany in 2013 and being so impressed with the fan made R2-D2 models that upon returning to London she tracked down the makers and hired them to work on the droids for this movie –  On cue R2-D2 glides out on stage accompanied by 2 of his creators – 2 fans who turned their hobby into something wonderful, 2 fans who cant believe they’re sitting there on that stage.  Carrying on the droid theme BB-8 rolls out and is met with wonderment, J.J. again tells us how easy it would be to create this character with CGI, yet Bob Igor himself approved the creation of the model as seen on stage, repeat: Disney have saved Star Wars. Of course, its the returning stars that get the biggest reaction, never did i believe i’d ever see Carrie Fisher and Mark Hammill on stage again discussing a new star Wars movie, but here it is and it’s incredible. 

These days fans of the multimillion dollar movie franchises we see every summer are becoming harder to impress, Blockbuster movies are big business and can generate even more cash with carefully chosen merchandise and more. As we all know Disney is becoming an expert at this kind of collaboration boasting numerous franchises already including The Muppets, Pixar and of course Marvel. Feeling the reaction of the crowds when this event was taking place would suggest that Disney have once again struck Gold. 

Next week sees the release of the second Avengers movie – An already proven franchise and with ‘Age of Ultron’ boasting one of this year’s most anticipated movies. I believe it’s safe to say that in any other year on Dec 31 this would be that year’s highest grossing movie. This year though, in 2015, Disney will just have to settle for number 2. In 2015 Disney saved Star Wars and they’ll finish with number 1.