On television, the weather forecast anticipates terrible weather conditions: damaging winds, risk of tornado, risk of hail. However, it is nothing so out of the ordinary for the northern United States at the beginning of spring, because within minutes there is a live contact with an NBC reporter wearing a hoodie that simulates Chewbacca’s fur and is entertained in attractions based on the galaxy far far away. Life goes on, or so it seems.
The first strong contingent of fans has not yet arrived at Chicago’s McCormick Place, but the journalist seems ready to camouflage himself among stormtroopers, Han Solos and X-Wing pilots. And once inside the largest convention center in North America, any concern about whether it rains, thunders or hails in the main city of Illinois disappears. Something exceptional is about to happen in the city for five days and the only possibility to attend is to have bought the ticket in advance (or travel from somewhere in the world with a press credential).
Created in 1999 for the premiere of The Phantom Menace, the Star Wars Celebration became a date that exceeds the exclusive preview show and the attendance of the stars of the George Lucas franchise. Perhaps in its origin it was reduced to that, when it was developed in a Denver museum three weeks after the premiere of the first of the (reviled) prequels; in April 2019, instead, it takes place eight months after the launch of The rise of Skywalker, and that is just one of the titles to celebrate.
The event is held in the best of cases every other year (in 2020 it was canceled due to the pandemic and now it aims to return in August 2022, in Anaheim, California), so going to the point in the United States where it is held is a ritual for thousands of Star Wars fans who can fork out the equivalent of 15 movie tickets in North America to participate in the five days of activities.
Already in place, it is spent without thinking twice. A significant portion of the fans crowd the sector where the official convention products are offered, while the majority are installed where the stalls are located where the same fans sell merchandising or mount an impressive display of all the helmets of the saga. Thus, it is impossible not to fall into the temptation of buying a Funko brand collectible to give away or go for some perhaps useless object of the franchise.
It is also difficult to remain unscathed in the face of the effervescence that is recorded on the second day of the event. A day that starts with a windy and icy morning in Chicago, but that is just an anecdote next to what is coming. Although they have not been officially announced, all the stars of The rise of Skywalker – known until then as Episodio IX– they break into the convention center. Also the droids R2-D2, BB-8 and DO, hailed as humans, because that is part of the essence of Star Wars: declared love for the universe and each of its characters (unless your name is Jar Jar Binks).
The panel begins with the president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, naming director J. J Abrams as the man who “cares more than anyone” to give a good closure to the franchise and concludes with the premiere of the first trailer of the film. At the beginning, development and end of the activity, you can witness some of the greatest displays of emotion at a movie that has not even been released.
Could it be that this generates a joy even greater than any new story that may emanate from the universe? Star Wars in the XXI century? The panel lasts 70 minutes and I don’t know if The awakening of the force, The clone wars or even The Mandalorian they brought as much happiness as that morning in Chicago.
Amid the roar of the audience and the previews that are released on the screen, a phrase from presenter Stephen Colbert goes unnoticed: “I’m not sure I’ll be able to enjoy this movie more than I am enjoying watching you enjoy these photographs at this moment. ”.
By witnessing in December what ended up being The rise of Skywalker, Star Wars Celebration attendees probably fondly remembered that panel and what they experienced that weekend. The feeling of an epic closing of the franchise was crushed by an uneven and excessively rushed tape, but the bliss of those days in Chicago is not so easily erased.
True to the custom of the saga, a constant seesaw, a fragile balance of rewards and disappointments, the 2019 event also hosted the first presentation of The Mandalorian, with Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers and (the farewell) Gina Carano on stage.
In the end, the first live action series of Star Wars For Disney + it ended up being the story that restored faith to fans, but its first live event is notoriously more measured than that of the Episodio IX. It takes place during the penultimate day of the appointment in Chicago and Kathleen Kennedy herself acts as the presenter, giving way to Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, the creative duo that for many should keep the keys to Lucasfilm.
They say that his first choice for the role was Pascal, the Chilean actor in turn affirms that he was inspired by Clint Eastwood to play the main character, and the creators express at all times a deep love for the George Lucas saga, for his characters stellar and by the youngest. They also anticipate that a group of fans of the franchise acted in the series: a set of humans perfectly disguised as stormtroopers who solved a headache for Filoni and Favreau in the last episode of the first cycle.
Those fans were the only ones happier than the 65,000 attendees at the Star Wars Celebration in April 2019, the last time fans from the galaxy far, far away were physically reunited and went home happy.
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The last time Star Wars fans were happy