Star Wars: The Force Awakens at D23: Disney theme parks, Harrison Ford & more
Plus, Harrison Ford returns -- and Disneyland announces a 14-acre Star Wars-themed land.
Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens marched into the auditorium at Disney’s D23 Expo on Saturday with promises to deliver another glimpse into the galactic battle that will unfold onscreen this Dec. 18.
It started with the announcement that Colin Trevorrow, director of (the awesome) Safety Not Guaranteed and Jurassic World, would be directing Episode IX, and a cast reveal of the currently-shooting Star Wars: Rogue One.
Here’s a rundown of what happened when the event turned to this December’s The Force Awakens:
12:20 p.m.: J.J. Abrams is here, and introducing the cast: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and “someone apparently required to be in every Disney movie, Lupita Nyong’o,” who previously turned up onstage for Queen of Katwe and The Jungle Book.
12:22 p.m.: John Boyega: “You know the name Drew Struzan, who designed all the Star Wars posters, and apparently he has designed an exclusive D23 poster.” A shot of a poster featuring Ridley looking fierce, Boyega with a lightsaber (WHANN-waannn!), and Harrison Ford with a blaster appears on screen. Everyone in the theater will get their own poster (maybe, except for all the people taking more than one.)
You can click the image above to see the whole thing.
12:23 p.m.: “But there’s one person on the poster who’s not onstage,” Abrams says as the crowd erupts in cheers and Ford strides out, smiling, and looking fit and feisty.
12:24 p.m.: He motions for everyone to sit. “My goodness, thank you so much,” Ford says. “You guys have made my life …” he says to ROARS of cheers. “I’m very happy yesterday following in the footsteps of George Lucas, the author of the early chapters of my story. I’m delighted to be here with J.J. and this wonderful cast, and Disney who have supported this effort in an extraordinary way.”
“It’s a great thrill to be here with you, you have made this whole thing happen. I couldn’t be happier. Thank you so much.”
12:24 p.m.: Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger takes the stage. “I expressed thanks to J.J., Trying to figure out who was going to direct this films as not the easiest of tasks. We knew we need someone who was great, someone we could trust, and someone who had great casting sense. Unfortunately, that director wasn’t available.”
He continued: “J.J. and I had the good fortune to work together when he did shows for ABC with Alias and Lost. When you look at the cast here, you get a sense of exactly what I’m talking about. Casting Harrison as Han Solo was also brilliant,” he jokes.
12:25 p.m.: “J.J. yesterday we had a Disney Legends ceremony and George was here, inducted as a Disney Legend. He was incredibly gracious, and I speak for everyone when I say how grateful we are for George trusting us with this incredible property,” says Iger.
12:27 p.m.: The cast now leaves the stage, with no reveal of new images or footage.
12:29 p.m.: “When we bought Lucasfilm three years ago, we were excite about making new Star Wars films, obviously,” Iger says. “But we were also excited about bringing the characters to every corner of the company.”
Iger announces new collaboration, long rumored, between Disney parks and Star Wars. A reel begins, showing a hatch on a spacecraft open and a peaceful galactic city with TIE Fighters flying overhead. “We’re bringing Star Wars to life in a big way, and I mean really big. We’re creating a jaw-dropping new world, that represents our largest single-themed land expansion ever,” Iger says. “We knew it needed to be big, we knew it needed to be great, so we’re going to transport guests to a whole new planet.”
12:33 p.m.: Iger says there will be a cantina, with familiar favorites from the original Star Wars saga as well as new ones from The Force Awakens.
The land will have two signature attractions, the ability to take the controls of the Millennium Falcon, “one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, on a customized secret mission.” It will put visitors in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance.
12:34 p.m.: They’re building two Star Wars lands — one in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, and the other in Anaheim at the original Disneyland.
12:35 p.m.: The panel has ended.
Complete D23 Expo coverage
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Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens