Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 is just a few months away and it will probably be when we get our first look of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, either with a teaser or a behind-the-scenes sizzle reel. Since 1999 for the release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace, #StarWarsCelebration has always been successful, gathering thousands and thousands of fans. So far there have been 11 Celebrations, with three in Europe, one in Japan, and the rest in the United States. Although I won't be going to Celebration 2017 in the United States (I live in Europe), I thought it would be interesting to talk about the importance of such events for us, the fans, by sharing the experience I had at 2016's Celebration in London.
5. You See Entire Star Wars Casts You Won't See Elsewhere
You can go to all kind of small comic-cons and they will have a few #StarWars background actors or maybe one rather important actor at a panel, but nothing else. Celebration, however, brings the whole main cast to a panel, including cast members that usually won't go to these kind of events. It's the one opportunity to see them all in the same room.
For Celebration in London last year, the main cast of Rogue One held a panel about the film, including:
- Felicity Jones
- Diego Luna
- Ben Mendelsohn
- Forest Whitaker
- Donnie Yen
- Riz Ahmed
- Jiang Wen
- Alan Tudyk
- Mads Mikkelsen
Even members of the crew were there, including director Gareth Edwards. Thousands of fans could see the cast talk about the movie and their characters, giving us a first look at Mads Mikkelsen's character, Galen Erso. That's a unique experience; it's different than seeing a character on your computer screen when you're in the same room as the actor.
I have to say, Ben Mendelsohn's entrance to the panel will probably remain known as the best entrance you can do at any panel. He arrived dressed as his character Director Krennic surrounded with Death Troopers. The level of badass there was incredible! As it is a standalone movie, I doubt we will ever see the whole #RogueOne cast all together again, so you can see how special this event was.
For the future filmmakers panel, we also had Rian Johnson, Chris Miller, Phil Lord, John Boyega, Alden Ehrenreich, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Kathleen Kennedy and Pablo Hidalgo. Looking back at it, it's sad that the 2016 Celebration was the last time we would see Carrie Fisher. Her panel, The Princess Diaries, was truly delightful and one of the highlights of the event.
4. Exclusive First Looks At Upcoming Content
Celebration Europe 2016 gave us some amazing first looks at the third season of Star Wars Rebels. They screened the first two episodes of the seasons only for the attendees, which means we saw brand new episodes three months before they aired on TV. Usually, it's the exclusive stuff journalists get, but at Celebration, it's for the fans! They did the same thing for Rebels Season 2 at Celebration 2015.
The other exclusive look was a long-awaited Rogue One trailer. The trailer was later released worldwide during the Olympics. It's all these special things we get at these events that make them genuinely worth it for the fans. We got other content as well, available for everyone online, which was a Rogue One behind-the-scenes sizzle reel and the trailer of Rebels Season 3!
It's a way for us to show our love for this saga, and for Star Wars filmmakers to thank us for our support.
3. An Inside Look At The Movie's Costume Design
Celebration 2016 was Rogue One year, so the costumes were from this new movie. It featured the Rogue One team, Krennic, Death Troopers, Shoretroopers and Stormtroopers! It's a part of the "making of" that you can see.
The attention to detail is outstanding. I stood at each costume for a long time and took plenty of pictures. Another inside look at the movies came with a panel about the creatures, droids and aliens of The Force Awakens and "Designing the Art of Star Wars" panel that featured Doug Chiang, a Star Wars legend. Celebrations are events where there is something for everyone, whether it's an inside look at the movies like this or first look at upcoming content and even panels with the cast. That's before we even mention the merchandise!
2. Exclusive Merchandise and A Look At Other Amazing Star Wars Items
With every Celebration, there is exclusive merchandise, making the event even more special. The merchandise includes t-shirts and, for the 2016 event, the art on the t-shirts were so beautiful, featuring the characters from The Force Awakens and one featured the logo of Rogue One for Force For Change.
In 2016, the Hasbro exclusive was Kylo Ren 6" without his helmet, along with some accessories. Fans are usually collectors or just want to bring some souvenirs home, and this merchandise is made for the fans. If you want, you can bring home a picture with an actor or his autograph.
The image above is an exact replica of Poe Dameron's helmet that costs around $6,000. I'm not sure casual fans like me would ever be able to get that, but at least it was nice to see these amazing replicas from The Force Awakens. There was an excellent Hot Toys booth as well. The work they do is "most impressive," (to quote Darth Vader). You could wander for hours in the Celebration halls and see plenty of beautiful stuff from the different booths.
Beyond seeing the cast in person, getting the autograph of a Star Wars legend and getting exclusive looks at upcoming content, there is one thing that also is special with Celebrations: connecting with other fans
1. Celebration Lets You Connect With Others Fans
You can talk with plenty of fans on Twitter, Facebook and on forums, but Celebrations are the moment you can actually meet these people. Along with meeting them, you can connect with other fans you didn't know at all, especially in the lines overnight (so many hours lining up) to get the wristbands for the big panels. There wasn't much sleep there, but there is a lot of talking, and connecting with other fans is the most fun part about Star Wars Celebration.
Celebrations are made for the fans and they're made to bring everyone together — fans and cast. It's so important to have these events for the exact reasons above. It's seeing the cast, getting exclusive look at upcoming content, seeing costumes from the movies, bringing home exclusive merchandise and meeting fans you've spoken to online while connecting with new ones too. It's a unique opportunities that you only get there, and it's the ultimate fan experience. Celebrating Star Wars is what it's all about. It's a thing to do at least once in your life, especially because tickets for these events are affordable for every fan.
What was the last convention you attended?