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STAR WARS CELEBRATION EUROPE: DAY THREE — A Guest Blog by Walt Fishon

STAR WARS CELEBRATION EUROPE: DAY THREE — A Guest Blog by Walt Fishon

STAR WARS CELEBRATION EUROPE: DAY THREE — A Guest Blog by Walt Fishon

The things one hears standing in a queue at Star Wars Celebration at 4:30 a.m…

“We’ll definitely get a teaser like they first had for The Force Awakens. You know, flashes of images that don’t give away the story”

“They’re going to announce the title of Episode VIII.”

“Daisy (Ridley) will be here since she lives in London.”

“Everyone on the t-shirt from Rogue One showed up, so everyone on the shirt from The Force Awakens should be here, too.”

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The prospect of new Star Wars information was too tempting for fans to miss the “Future Filmmakers” panel, and the line for bracelets was already to the third chute, thanks, in part, to the Sunday train schedules which necessitated people who weren’t staying locally to line up the night before. One fan, who lives about 90 minutes from London, purchased a Sunday ticket specifically to attend the panel, but he realized about a week before the event (around when the new bracelet plan was announced) that he might miss out on it because the trains operate on a limited morning schedule. He arrived at 12:30 am to grab a spot and slept on the floor as many people decided to do.

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Public transportation seems to be the one wrinkle in the new bracelet system; when it shuts down, if people aren’t within walking distance, the only options they have are staying all night at the venue or paying a hefty price for transportation. A fan from California woke up as she had the previous two days unaware that the train was not coming – she ultimately pooled with other fans to purchase a taxi ride, arriving just before 6 am and joining a separate second queue being formed for bracelets.

But that’s what fans will do in order to be a part of the excitement of Celebration, and with its lineup of guests and promised surprises, Sunday looked to be a stellar ending to the three-day event.

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While none of the hopes listed above came to fruition, it’s safe to say that no one was disappointed by what was presented. Instead of earth-shattering information or whizbang trailers, fans were treated to a panel that revealed the easy camaraderie that exists between the various producers and directors who will bring the Star Wars universe to life over the next two years. There was no pall over the festivities as there was at Celebration Anaheim when Josh Trank mysteriously did not show up to discuss what was reportedly a Boba Fett standalone film. Between Pablo Hidalgo being smothered in a double hug from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (directors of 2018’s Han Solo standalone film), Johnson photobombing Lord and Miller’s onstage selfie, and surprise guest John Boyega ribbing Alden Ehrenreich over how his life will change now that it is confirmed he will portray a young Han Solo, the mood was jovial and affectionate – two of the things that make a Star Wars film great. It was heartening to see everything is in good hands

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While Rian Johnson didn’t share any plot points for Episode VIII, he did offer some insights about the next installment which will begin a breath away from The Force Awakens. Scenes were indeed filmed on Skellig Michael (the site of the Jedi Steps) to pick things up right after the previous film, but what unfolds in the next chapter remains a mystery. Other than additional filming along the Irish coast, Johnson did not reveal any other shooting locations. He did promise, though, that there will be plenty of physical sets, thanks to his aversion to green screen environments. He shared that the exteriors of ship bridges were built to allow for more realistic shots. This is an exciting development as it overcomes the problem apparent in the last scene of The Empire Strikes Back, when the camera pulls away from the rebel ship and the image of Luke, Leia and the droids is obviously a projection (still, it was an amazing shot at the time).

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No information was shared on what roles Benecio Del Toro and Laura Dern will play in Episode VIII, but it was intriguing that Johnson and Boyega both shared their excitement for fans to finally “meet” Kelly Marie Tran. Their passion on the subject made people think she might walk out on stage as if it were her cotillion, but it was not to be. Still, the mere mention of Tran was like catnip for the crowd.

And that’s what the closing ceremony felt like – a bit of a tease. It was akin to feeling a sneeze coming on and then the feeling subsides, but this wasn’t necessarily a surprise or a disappointment. Johnson had the most to offer the audience, being that he just wrapped filming on a project that he not only directed but wrote, yet it was a given he wouldn’t share anything substantial. Lord and Miller had nothing of note to share since the script for their film isn’t polished and they are only in early pre-production for a film two years away. Boyega, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are contractually obligated to remain mum for the next 18 months.  

Yet that didn’t stop the crowd from jumping to its feet and cheering as each individual stepped out on stage. Whereas last year’s Celebration was Lucasfilm’s love letter to the fans (really, watch any of the clips from Celebration Anaheim and notice how many times anyone from the company told the audience “thank you”), this year’s Celebration was a chance for fans to say thank you to Lucasfilm for making us believe again with The Force Awakens. The standing ovations weren’t just for the people onstage; they were appreciation for being given back the childlike feelings of wonder and excitement that a Star Wars film embodies.

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In that respect, the closing ceremony accomplished its job – we’re all primed for more from our favorite galaxy far, far away….

…and eagerly awaiting Celebration Orlando. Bring it on!

You can read Walt’s previous Celebration Europe recaps here.

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