Premiere of ‘The Force Awakens’ takes over Hollywood
LOS ANGELES — Stormtroopers marched down “The Force Awakens” red carpet Monday, heralding the return of “Star Wars” after a decade-long absence from the big screen.
A giant opaque tent shrouded the red carpet — lined with Stormtrooper mannequins and neon lights that resembled giant lightsabers — and workers put the finishing touches on the setup hours before the film’s first showings to a select group of Hollywood elite.
Before some of the film’s human stars arrived, the droid BB-8 rolled by the cameras. The soccerball-esque droid has been a popular fixture in trailers for the seventh “Star Wars” film.
Disney took over a half-mile section of Hollywood Boulevard for the premiere for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” complete with fan bleachers and spotlights everywhere. The film will screen at three theaters, allowing more than 5,000 invited guests the chance to see the characters Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo reunite for the first time on the big screen since 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.”
Security around the site was high, with metal detectors screening pedestrians and police dogs checking the area.
For those without tickets to the premiere, the most they could see was the outside of the tent.
“We’re really disappointed because we are big Star Wars fans, and we were hoping to at least see a little of the celebrities,” said Natalie Arnet, a tourist from Paris.
“I understand the need for security,” Arnet said. “We’ll happily go through the checkpoints to cross the street.”
But for a lifelong “Star Wars” fan, it was tough being that close to the premiere and not getting a better look. “I wanted to see the old cast members because I grew up with these films,” she said.
In bleachers set up on the boulevard, some fans dressed as X-Wing pilots while others held up helmets resembling those worn by bounty hunters in the film.
Access to journalists covering the premiere restricted until just before the event began. Once they were allowed in the giant, four-block tent, they were treated to displays of some of the film’s newest characters, including the evil Captain Phasma and BB-8 droid.
Many of Hollywod’s top stars will join hundreds of costumed fans at what could be the largest Hollywood premiere ever. One of the participating theaters — the iconic TCL Chinese — hosted the premiere of the original “Star Wars” in 1977.
Los Angeles Police say extra vehicle patrols and more officers on foot are being assigned to the area.
Monday’s premiere is the culmination of years of planning, filming and marketing “Star Wars” for a new generation.
Although “The Force Awakens” reunites the cast of the original trilogy for the first time since “Return of the Jedi,” the new film is expected to introduce a new crop of characters who can sustain the franchise for years to come.
“The Force Awakens” opens to the public Friday and some expect the film to break box office records, as it has already with presale tickets.
The last live-action “Star Wars” film was 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith,” which capped a prequel trilogy focusing on the story of how Skywalker’s father became villain Darth Vader.
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