The lights were off, the lightsabers were on, and the Jedi were in full force at Thursday’s The Force Awakens panel, kicking off the latest ‘Star Wars Celebration’ in Anaheim. ETonline was there to live-blog and geek out beyond belief -- but now, we’re breaking down the six greatest moments from the panel.
6. The Most Die-Hard Fans Were Rewarded With Pizza
We have to tip our hats to the Jedi knights that began lining up the previous afternoon for a chance to get inside the panel. To reward them for their die-hard fandom, producer Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams arranged pizza delivery for those waiting in line overnight.
5. J.J.’s Practical Sets
The room erupted with cheers and applause when J.J. talked about his use of practical sets, as opposed to the prequel trilogy’s notorious blue screen. “We needed to set a standard that war real, that felt like you knew that people were in those places,” said Abrams. “It's an amazing thing to actually be able to watch the movie and you can see what it is. You don't need to use your imagination because we actually had those sets there and it was great for the actors too.”
4. That’s NOT Tatooine
When it was announced that The Force Awakens would be shooting much of the film in Abu Dhabi, fans immediately jumped to the (what we thought was an obvious) conclusion we would be returning to the desert planet of Tatooine. But J.J. quickly debunked that rumor Thursday morning when he revealed the newest desert planet is actually called Jakku, a planet in a remote section of the Outer Rim Territories.
3. Poe Dameron's Mission Oscar Isaac gave us an important plot nugget about his character when revealing we first meet Poe Dameron when he is sent on a mission “by a princess.”
2. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
It was pretty safe to assume viewers would get a glimpse at some of the cast members at the panel. After all, much of the original cast had signings and panels scheduled throughout the weekend. But no one could prepare themselves for the sheer overload that was about to happen. First, R2D2 wheeled onto the stage, followed by new droid BB-8. Then, we were greeted by newcomers John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac, followed by veterans Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew and Mark Hamill. Hamill nearly brought the room to tears when he told the audience, “You’re more than just fans – you’re family.”
1. The Trailer Debut (x2)
It was the moment we were all waiting for, and we could spend the next four hours dissecting the trailer frame by frame. But we can tell you first hand: the audience was gasping, screaming and weeping as we watched together. When it was over, it just wasn’t enough – and so the “one more time” chanting began. We might as well have all held hands and celebrated Life Day in the most blissful of nerdy moments.
May the Force Be With You All.
Star Wars Celebration has only just begun, ETonline Producer Ashley Crossan will be roaming the floor (with her lightsaber) all weekend long – be sure to tweet along with @AshCrossan for updates and fun findings.