ByBrooke Geller, writer at Creators.co
Movie Pilot staff writer, aspiring shieldmaiden and friend to all doggos. twitter.com/brookalus
Brooke Geller

J. J. Abrams has opened up about his philanthropic efforts leading up to the release of The Force Awakens. While millions of Star Wars fans all over the world were getting excited for the release of Abrams' epic 2015 film, others were not quite so lucky; their terminal illnesses meant they most likely wouldn't be able to see the release of the first live action Star Wars film in a decade.

But thanks to Abrams and his team, some were given special early screenings of the movie— an experience he described to LA Goss as "very humbling".

[Credit: John Boyega Instagram]
[Credit: John Boyega Instagram]

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Making Dreams Come True

According to Abrams, he and his team helped "a number of people who were tragically not going to live to see the release of the movie"— like Daniel Fleetwood, who was diagnosed with cancer and had only two months to live.

As a massive fan, this was devastating news for Daniel. But thanks to tireless social media campaigning from his family, his story caught the attention of the film's cast and crew— including Abrams.

[Credit: Ashely Fleetwood Instagram]
[Credit: Ashely Fleetwood Instagram]

Abrams sent out some of his crew to hold private screenings of The Force Awakens in the homes of people like Daniel. In fact, Daniel was shown an unedited and thus unfinished version of the film:

"It was very important to us that those who were reaching out to us, as much as we could - and we couldn't get everyone of course - got a chance to see the movie even though it was unfinished."

Those who were granted screenings also received personal phone calls from Abrams before and after watching the film. For him, it was an appropriate gesture for those whose lives had been so enriched by the magic of Star Wars:

"Some were children, and some were adults, and I spoke with almost all of them before and after they saw the movie. And it was incredibly meaningful to all of us working on the movie that it meant so much to other people at a point where they were literally in their last weeks and even days, that that's what they cared about. So it was a great reminder, and very humbling, and of course I hated that they passed away, but it was meaningful to all of us that we could do something to help them."

What About John?

John and his family at an early screening of Rogue One [Credit: Patricia Baillie Facebook]
John and his family at an early screening of Rogue One [Credit: Patricia Baillie Facebook]

Late last year, a woman by the name of Sarah Hunter started an online campaign to allow her terminally ill brother, John, to see an early screening of Rogue One. After being told by doctors that he would likely lose his battle with brain cancer before the official release, his family were desperate to grab the attention of the studio.

Unfortunately, John didn't manage to get an early viewing of Rogue One; however, he held on just long enough for the official release. John and his family were given a private screening in a cinema on December 17; one week later, he passed away. If anyone embodied the defiant spirit of a true Star Wars fan, it was him.

What do you think of J. J. Abrams' efforts to help terminally ill Star Wars fans?

(Source: LA Goss)


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