'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' premiere was the biggest thing Hollywood has ever seen
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With a red carpet concept more Disneyland than Hollywood Boulevard, the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” premiere was, without a doubt, the most ambitious movie opening this town has ever known.
And to the obvious delight of not one, but three iconic Los Angeles theaters packed with the planet's first humans to see it, the film held up its end of the bargain. Though reviews are embargoed until Wednesday, the message came through: Star Wars is back, and it's pulling out all the stops. Get on board or get out of the way.
Disney and Lucasfilm erected a quarter-mile-long Star Wars-themed tent that connected the Dolby Theatre (home of the Oscars), the TCL Chinese Theatre (LA's premiere IMAX screen) and the El Capitan Theater (Disney's home court), filled it with interactive installations and invitees (many Star Wars-accessoried or in full costume) and let 'er rip on a Monday night.
The result was well, more wealth than you can imagine!
Only Hollywood's very biggest premieres can command one of the venues on this hallowed strip. Disney's first Star Wars outing invaded all three, with a combined capacity of nearly 6,000 people none of whom knew which theater they'd be in until their badge was around their neck.
Once inside the tent, the effect was staggering: Suddenly you were swept from the blustery chill of 50-degrees LA into the warm and welcoming world of Star Wars, where giddy castmembers, Hollywood power brokers, random celebrities, entertainment journalists and randos from all across the Galaxy mixed and mingled:
As you can tell from my "TIE," there was no shame here. I mean ... Rainn Wilson dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Joseph Gordon Levitt dressed as Yoda.
Of course, security was as tight as a Naboo blockade: Multiple checkpoints with metal detectors and wand-wielding guards made getting inside a hero's journey of its own kind. Bomb-sniffing dogs roamed the red carpet, which was flanked by a heavy presence of uniformed officers.
Disney CEO Bob Iger, who doesn't make a habit of stage appearances at his company's film premieres, gave the opening remarks. And it was the Dolby Theatre that would be the main venue, where George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy and the entire cast sat front and center, with the stage presentation simulcast to the Chinese and the El Cap.
"There's more than a little excitement tonight, I gather," said Iger, the normally unflappable captain of the Disney ship. "I stand here tonight humbled and incredibly grateful, and just excited beyond belief."
Iger made sure Lucas got the first standing-O, recognizing the original Star Wars creator (whose services were no longer required on The Force Awakens after Disney paid more than $4 billion to buy Lucasfilm outright) for his vision. Lucas stood and waved back at the hearty cheers, Spielberg at his side, and the two clapped backs in a long, victory-lap embrace.
Iger then gave the stage to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn, who gave it to Kennedy, who finally turned it over to director J.J. Abrams by saying the director's delivery on The Force Awakens "exceeded our loftiest dreams and expectations."
Abrams thanked a long list of influences, but gave his strongest gratitude to mentor and champion Spielberg: "I'm tapped out," he joked. "I have nothing more of value to give you."
Then Abrams brought out the cast, one by one, each taking their predetermined mark side players in the back row, new characters stage left and Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill front-and-center. The crowd went wild.
Little by little, everyone peeled off, except for droids R2-D2 and BB-8, who seemed not to notice that the stage had been emptied around them. BB-8 was the last to exit, the lights went down, and the moment the world had been waiting for was upon us.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away ...
"Luke Skywalker has vanished," read the first words in that unmistakeable yellow font, and with a smattering of cheers from the audience, the film was finally under way.
The crowd went full throat for a handful of other moments that won't be spoiled here most of them character introductions and came to its feet as the credits rolled. Then they piled back out into the sprawling tent, where food, drinks and Twitter reactions flowed like Cantina cocktails.
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