Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

April 20, 2015 | 4:30 a.m.

Some came dressed as Stormtroopers. Some got R2-D2 tattoos. Some underwent Jedi training or stood in long lines for autographs ($125 for Mark Hamill but just $50 for Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca).

But like the Millennium Falcon in the grip of the Death Star tractor beam, the estimated 60,000 fans who attended the four-day Star Wars Celebration that ended Sunday were inexorably drawn to the Anaheim Convention Center for the same purpose: to share their passion for all things “Star Wars” and catch an early glimpse of the franchise’s next chapter.

2425556 et 0415 star wars 13 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

"Star Wars" fans Sharon Jackson, left, dressed as Mission Vao, of Las Vegas, and Kyle Jackson, dressed as a Wookiee, pose for pictures during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 7 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

"Star Wars" fans from the 501st Legion costume organization show off their Stormtrooper gear during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 17 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Costumed "Star Wars" fans Corin Zinninger as Darth Reuan, Sharon Jackson as Mission Vao, Kyle Jackson as a Wookiee, and Brennan Zinninger as Carth Onasi, all of Las Vegas, pose for pictures during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 8 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Costumed "Star Wars" fans pose with toy lightsabers during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration held at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 10 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Dressed as "Star Wars" character Oola, Moe Hunt of Chicago poses with Roxy the Rancor during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 2 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

A "Star Wars" fan dressed as Darth Vader leads a parade of characters from the 501st Legion costume organization as they make a dramatic entrance into the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 3 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

"Star Wars" fans from the 501st Legion costume organization show off their Stormtrooper gear as they make a dramatic entrance into the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 1 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

"Star Wars" fans from the 501st Legion costume organization show off their Stormtrooper gear as they make a dramatic entrance into the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 4 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

A security guard inspects "Star Wars" fan and Modesto resident Steve Gwin, a member of the worldwide 501st Legion costume organization, during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 11 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Star Wars characters from the 501st Legion costume organization parade through the halls of the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 14 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Charlotte Davis, 2, of San Diego, plays with bubbles from a bubble-making R2-D2 during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 16 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Danielle Young of Salem, Mass., is dressed as Princess Leia during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 9 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Molly Ingham of South Carolina shows off her costume -- "Frozen's" Queen Elsa as a Sith -- during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 12 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Molly Ingham, right, of South Carolina shows off her costume -- "Frozen's" Queen Elsa as a Sith -- during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 5 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

"Star Wars" fans Anthony Lopez, left, of Sacramento and Torri Robbins, right, of Denver show off their Shadow Trooper costumes during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 6 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

"Star Wars" fan Anthony Lopez of Sacramento shows off his Shadow Trooper costume during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425556 et 0415 star wars 15 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Jovan C. of Norco checks his phone while dressed as Luke Skywalker during the 2015 Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 16. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 6 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

A man who goes by the name of "Hyper" poses as a beach-ready stormtrooper. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 5 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Actor, stuntman and performer Lucky McQueede of Santa Clarita performs as Darth Maul cyborg, right. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 12 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Youngsters learn how to use light sabers during a Jedi training seminar. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 9 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

The Hodge family: Kelly, Milo, 6, and Dave, of Nashville sport their homemade biker scouts outfits from "Return of the Jedi." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 15 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

A Star Wars Celebration attendee enjoys an exhibit at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 16 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

"Star Wars" fans view the Hot Wheels' Life-Size, 150-mph Darth Vader car, based on a C5 Chevrolet Corvette. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 10 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Dylan Stalker of Long Beach, dressed as a combination of a spartan and Boba Fett, stands next to a giant Jabba the Hutt model. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 46 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Stryder Brown of Los Angeles is the Hip Hop Trooper, whose pumping music gets him dancing at the Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 27 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

"Retired Sidious," otherwise known as Delyn Murie, 74, of Riverside, uses his imperial walker to get around at Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 31 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Excitement rises among fans waiting for "Date With The Princess: Carrie Fisher." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 21 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Participants in a Princess Leia look-alike contest compete before Carrie Fisher took the stage. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 22 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Contestants parade across the stage during the Princess Leia look-alike contest. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 18 ajs1 Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Carrie Fisher and her dog, Gary, onstage during the "Date With The Princess: Carrie Fisher" event. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 39 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Carrie Fisher onstage during the "Date With The Princess: Carrie Fisher" event. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 23 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

A youngster is prepared for a lightsaber fight as he walks through the dark shadows at the Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 24 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

"Star Wars" fans travel to their next destination at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 28 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Jessica Odell of Lisburn, Ireland, is dressed as Maris Broud from "The Force Unleashed" video game. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 36 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

William Teague of Austin, Texas. views dozens of Star Wars figures lined up in a display by the Kotobukiya company. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 53 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

In tattoo alley, artist Damian Cain of Britain shows off his Luke Skywalker tattoo. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 50 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

In tattoo alley, Vinny Romanelli of New York City gives Angela Byrd of Modesto an angelic R2D2 tattoo. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 52 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

In tattoo alley, David James of Arcadia shows off his Darth Nihilus work-in-progress tattoo. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 29 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Malcolm McNeil of Ventura takes part in the X-Wing Experience Star Wars Battlefront. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 34 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Robert Gomes of Walnut, Calif., is Darth Tannos in the Millennium Falcon scene. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 35 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Eric Cajiuat, of Fullerton, is Jedi Elvis in the Millennium Falcon scene. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 41 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Chandra Chang of Los Angeles poses as R2D2 Hello Kitty -- or R2Kitty -- in front of "The 20th Century Space Opera" oil on canvas by Robert Xavier Burden. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 42 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

A fan takes photos of some of the extensive collection of Star Wars memorabilia in the Rancho Obi-Wan Star Wars collection booth. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425557 et 0415 star wars 2 37 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Jennifer Hobart, of Fullerton, creates her own Star Wars character with special contact lenses. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425558 et 0415 star wars 3 11 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Fans dress in character and recreate the Mos Eisley Cantina from "Star Wars." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425558 et 0415 star wars 3 18 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Fans dress in character and recreate the Mos Eisley Cantina from "Star Wars." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425558 et 0415 star wars 3 13 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Fans dress in character and recreate the Mos Eisley Cantina from "Star Wars." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425558 et 0415 star wars 3 12 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Fans dress in character and recreate the Mos Eisley Cantina from "Star Wars." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425558 et 0415 star wars 3 10 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Calvin Heins, 12, of Los Angeles, wears a Jawa costume in front of a replica of the Mos Eisley Cantina from "Star Wars." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425558 et 0415 star wars 3 6 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

A young girl readies her lightsaber as she walks though the shadows at the Star Wars Celebration at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425558 et 0415 star wars 3 4 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Members of the 1st Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment of the 501st Legion march in formation through the crowd during Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425558 et 0415 star wars 3 2 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Members of the 1st Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment of the 501st Legion march in formation through the crowd during Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

2425558 et 0415 star wars 3 7 ajs Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Members of the 1st Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment of the 501st Legion march in formation through the crowd during Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Before the event, “Star Wars” fans had many more questions than answers about the future of the nearly 40-year-old franchise, with the first new “Star Wars” film in a decade, “Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” due in theaters Dec. 18.

“We’re really in uncharted waters,” said Eric Geller, a writer for the “Star Wars” news site TheForce.Net. “The fans have all taken something personal away from this franchise, and they’re really interested in seeing where it goes next.”

By the end of the weekend, at least some of those questions were answered.

Lucasfilm, acquired by the Walt Disney Co. from series creator George Lucas for $4 billion in 2012, held a panel Sunday that offered an early glimpse at the first of several planned spinoff films, “Star Wars: Rogue One.” Though the film hasn’t begun production and isn’t set for release until December 2016, director Gareth Edwards showed a brief teaser, revealing that the plot centers on rebels who unite on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.

Edwards said “Rogue One,” set shortly before the events of the original “Star Wars” movie, would be essentially a war film. He told fans dryly, “It’s called ‘Star Wars.'” (Josh Trank, set to direct the second spinoff film, was scheduled to appear but bowed out because of illness.)

In the convention’s opening panel on Thursday, for which more than 2,000 fans had camped out overnight, “Episode VII” director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy sought to reassure the “Star Wars” faithful that the franchise is in good hands.

Abrams and Kennedy showed off a new trailer for “Episode VII” that bridged the series’ past with its future, climaxing in a shot of Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, with his sidekick Chewbacca beside him, saying, “Chewie, we’re home.” The trailer had fans cheering rapturously, some fighting back tears. (In the first 24 hours, it racked up some 88 million views online.)

“It was pretty emotional, because I grew up seeing the original movies,” said Boyle Heights resident Freddie Luevano, 37. “It hit a soft spot for me. Seeing the Stormtroopers brought back good memories.”

Abrams — who was joined on the stage by several of the film’s stars as well as a new droid character called BB-8 — shared his own memories of watching the original “Star Wars” when it opened in 1977. “I was 11 years old — and 11 was a great age to have my mind blown,” he said. He told the crowd he once dressed up as a Jawa for Halloween, joking, “But I don’t want to tell you what year that was.”

The ever-expanding “Star Wars” universe also includes television and video games, of course, both of which were featured at Star Wars Celebration. Electronic Arts debuted a trailer for a video game hitting stores in November called “Star Wars Battlefront” and Lucasfilm screened the first episode of the second season of the Disney XD animated series “Star Wars Rebels.”

“There’s automatic pressure whenever you do anything with ‘Star Wars’ in the title,” said “Rebels” executive producer Simon Kinberg. “It’s like adding new books to the Bible.”

"Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher, joined by her dog Gary, talks onstage during her presentation at Star Wars Celebration on April 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Furthering the feeling of nostalgia, cast members from the original trilogy — including Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) — held their own separate panels for fans, answering questions and sharing stories. Ford, recovering from injuries sustained in a plane crash last month, did not attend.

Fisher recalled partying with the Rolling Stones one night during the filming of the 1980 film “The Empire Strikes Back.”

“We stayed up pretty late, then we got to the set about two hours late, and we weren’t hung over — we were still in our cups,” Fisher said. “So if you watch the movie, it’s one of the few times that Harrison and I are smiling as we arrive in Cloud City.”

Hamill spoke of the thrill — and the heavy responsibility — that came with returning to the franchise that had launched him to stardom.

“It’s not, like, a choice,” the actor said. “It’s like I was drafted. Can you imagine if for some reason I said that I don’t think I want to do it? I would have all of you surrounding my house like villagers in a Frankenstein picture. Angry villagers, with lightsabers instead of torches.”

Eric Vie, left, of Dayton, Ohio, gives the Bay Area's Alain Bloch a tattoo of the Jedi Code at Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Eric Vie, left, of Dayton, Ohio, gives the Bay Area’s Alain Bloch a tattoo of the Jedi Code at Star Wars Celebration. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Indeed, “Star Wars” devotees take their fandom seriously, as evidenced perhaps most vividly by those who lined up to get a “Star Wars”-themed tattoo from one of 45 tattoo artists set up on the convention floor.

Alain Bloch, who was dressed in Jedi robes, said he was happy to give up an afternoon to get a detailed rendition of the script for the Jedi code permanently inked on his arm.

“I definitely want to get tattooed by someone who loves the culture and is willing to come out and dedicate their time,” said Bloch, 34. “What better place to get a ‘Star Wars’ tattoo to remind myself of this time, this place, these people?”

With eight months to go before “Episode VII” hits theaters, it remains to be seen whether the movie will live up to fans’ soaring expectations. As Yoda put it, “Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”

Nevertheless, Disney is feeling bullish. On Sunday afternoon, as fans began streaming out the convention laden with all manner of “Star Wars” merchandise, the studio announced that the next Star Wars Celebration will be July 2016 in London, with tickets going on sale Monday.

Times staff writers Noelene Clark, Patrick Kevin Day, Todd Martens and Daniel Miller contributed to this report.

— Josh Rottenberg | @latherocomplex

Follow us on Facebook for more ‘Star Wars’ news.

RECENT AND RELATED

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" actor John Boyega. (Jesse Grant / Getty Images for Disney)Star Wars Celebration: Tattoos, a convention tradition

Billy Dee Williams insists he’s no smooth operator »

Fans explore all corners of the convention universe

Gareth Edwards reveals ‘Rogue One’ plot details

Mark Hamill, ‘drafted’ for ‘The Force Awakens’

‘The Force Awakens’ is a ‘transference of generations’

Familiar faces return for ‘Rebels’ season two

Anthony Daniels praises J.J. Abrams

Carrie Fisher takes fans on a racy date with a princess

Ray Park on his beginning and Darth Maul’s end

‘Battlefront’ gets franchise back in the game

Emperor Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid recalls ‘Return of the Jedi’

Star Wars Celebration images: The Force is strong with convention-goers in Anaheim

Comments


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close
E-mail It
Powered by ShareThis