‘Star Wars’ Premieres to Enthusiastic Thumbs Up in Hollywood

Star Wars the Force awakens
Courtesy of Disney

The force is strong with this one. On Monday night, J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” screened for the first time in Hollywood and the initial responses were, to the relief of fans, overwhelmingly positive.

Actress Geena Davis let out a whoop from her seat in the second row of the Dolby Theater balcony, as soon as the film ended, “I loved everything about it,” she said. “Especially Rey,” referring to newcomer Daisy Ridley.

Young stars John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver also received cheers from the audience at the Hollywood and Highland complex, where Lucasfilm’s seventh “Star Wars” pic screened at three different theaters, while others praised Abrams’ “old-fashioned” approach.

The night’s biggest reactions were reserved for the filmmakers and stars of the original “Star Wars” films. A large roar nearly shook the building for Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, who, upon entering the theater, waved to costumed stormtroopers and “Star Wars” fanatics along Hollywood boulevard.

Twitter reactions quickly poured as soon as “The Force Awakens” let out, as expected, despite Disney’s official review embargo for early Wednesday morning.

“JJ did it,” tweeted Patton Oswalt.

“It was epic, awesome and perfect,” added Rainn Wilson, star of “The Office.”

Brett Morgan, director of Kurt Cobain documentary “Montage of Heck,” actually took it a step further and called it “the best blockbuster since the original.”

Among the Hollywood onlookers in attendance Monday night were Spike Lee, Matthew McConaughey, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who painted his face in full costume as Yoda.

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ World Premiere Photos
Star Wars Premiere Photos

The festivities began in earnest at 7:09 p.m. when Disney CEO Robert Iger took the stage. He remembered seeing “Star Wars”for the first time on a summer day 38 years ago. “None of this would have been possible without the sheer genius, the guts, the talent, the vision of one person…George Lucas.”

Lucas, who was sitting beside Steven Spielberg, then stood to an long ovation from the Dolby crowd.

Iger also thanked Abrams, who, he said “delivered a film that exceeded even our loftiest dreams and expectations.”

Following Iger and Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy, Abrams was the last to address the crowd at the Dolby. “It’s an honor to be with you all at this incredibly low-key event here,” he quipped. “My apologies to the neighborhood. “

The director also thanked his parents, including his father, who was in attendance. “Thank you for taking me to see ‘Star Wars’ when I was 10. That was a very good decision,” he said. The director then introduced composer John Williams, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and the stars of the film. The last pair to leave the stage before the screening was R2-D2 and his new droid companion BB-8.

Disney triple-sized the premiere by closing and tenting Hollywood Boulevard and reserving three theaters, instead of just one, to accommodate guests for the world premiere. Those lucky enough to nab a ticket began arriving early and could claim their passes starting at 5 p.m. for the 6:30 p.m. showings at the TCL Chinese, El Capitan and Dolby theaters.

The Los Angeles Police Department sent 50 officers to oversee the event, a deployment as large as for the Academy Awards.

Disney staged a party immediately following the screening under the giant tent, where fans outside the Dolby Theater were invited to take part in the festivities.

Details of the premiere had been largely kept under tight wraps, as had been details of the seventh episode in the “Star Wars” saga.

Fans got the pre-screening festivities started early. Some had been gathering around the forecourt of the Chinese Theater for more than a week. A few made Jedi robes, while others dressed as storm troopers. Fans came from all over the world, including a couple from Australia that planned a “Star Wars”-themed wedding just hours before the premiere. Caroline Ritter and Andrew Porters were to wed in front of a Storm Trooper honor guard in the Chinese Theater forecourt, with a Darth Vader character walking the bride to the altar.

The debut came with enormous expectations that have been mounting ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm from founder George Lucas in October, 2012. The $4 billion cash-and-stock deal made Lucas the second-largest non-institutional shareholder in the entertainment conglomerate. Some analysts initially expressed skepticism about the acquisition, suggesting Disney CEO Robert Iger paid too much.

But leading into Friday’s public debut, forecasters projected that “The Force Awakens” had a shot at not only topping all previous “Star Wars” episodes but perhaps besting “Avatar,” the James Cameron animated fantasy whose $2.8 billion box office take stands as the all-time record. And judging by the crowd’s reaction on Monday night, the force had indeed been awakened.

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  1. Mrs X says:

    Luke’s .. ‘state’ doesnt quite call for roars.

  2. Liam says:

    Actors are the last people to tell you the truth. If any of them said it sucked then they can kiss off working for Disney or Abrams ever. This is business. When I go to a work conventions & meet a client I want work from, I don’t say their product sucks now…. Do I. So why do you think you can take their word as the truth. They all said the same thing coming out of the Phantom Mensce screening. So s bit of perspective please.

    • Anthony Pero says:

      While this is undoubtedly true, no one is betting bonus points for saying nice things. There is a third option: say nothing unless asked. These are twitter reactions from people who were obviously and legitimately ecstatic.

  3. djs1138 says:

    The trailers look pretty cool… and they way it was filmed with great sets… you just know there was a lot of passion put into making this film… with a John Williams score… if the script and acting rise to the occasion… maybe it’ll be great…

  4. XonEarth says:

    It’s all about promoting war, death and destruction from our CIA torturers’ Hollywood.

    • Tony Whisman says:

      Who invited Debbie Downer?

      • James says:

        So people who hot yo see it for free were asked what they thought of it as they left the screening. Yeah, right, like they’re going to say it sucks. Even if they hated it, there’s no way they were going to say that. This is such contrived BS. We’ll know the truth soon enough when average jo gets yo see it. I’d take they’re word any day over this bunch of self absorbed nut cases.

  5. Alex says:

    This coming from the A-List insiders, we’ll have to wait to hear from the geeks, .If it really is that good they’ll let us know, if it is just OK or sucks BOY will they let us know.

    • Salacious Crumb says:

      The only thing that’s BS are the comments coming from haters like you that don’t enjoy life but enjoy typing negativity. Just judging by the fact that you haven’t seen the movie you should consider thinking about what you say sounding like an idiot, jus sayin’…

  6. limanuljaska says:

    The first comments have come in here at EET time zone (UTC -2) from previews and theater personnel. They have been unanimously positive, many suggesting that this will be remembered as the division point between “tangible” and “junk” pop movies as Episode VII has brought the “living” photographic quality issue back into main stream movies. It is easy to predict that from here on, every dedicated directors dream does not involve more CGI but real sets to work on.
    The magnitude of which Episode VII is pushed onto Finnish theaters is unprecedented. All major theaters have modified their schedule for today and are running Episode VII almost nonstop – all sold out already. According to eyewitnesses the general consensus has been an awe, many of the younger generations nodding to the middle aged fans in sympathy and understanding…

  7. Jacques Strappe says:

    The trolls are beyond restless at this point. They’ve been honing their hate reviews and tweets for over a year now. Just a few more days guys and you can unleash your bile and upchuck your poop about The Force Awakens, JJ Abrams, Disney, etc. I wonder how many The “Farce” Awakens references we’ll see. Oh boy, can’t wait.

  8. LOL says:

    I saw it. It was crap.

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  10. They are the same tweets everyone is rebblogging and citing that the reaction has been positive… taking 10 tweets from a premiere of thousands of people. I am waiting until midnight when review embargo is lifted. I still cannot take the word of fans for it. Remember how raptorous the initial fan reactions for Episode I were?

  11. GinaRStark says:

    ”G­­o­­­o­­­g­­l­­e­­­ i­­s­­ <­­-p­­a­­y­­i­­n­­g­­ 9­­7­­$ p­­e­­r h­­o­­u­­r! ­­W­­o­­r­­k ­­f­­­­o­­r ­­f­­­­e­­­­w­­ h­­­­o­­u­­r­­s ­­a­­n­­d h­­a­­v­­e l­­o­­n­­g­­e­­r w­­i­­t­­h­­ f­­­­r­­i­­e­­n­­d­­s & ­­f­­a­­m­­i­­l­­y­­! ­­O­­n ­­t­­u­­e­­s­­d­­a­­y I g­­o­­t ­­a­­ g­­r­­e­­a­­t ­­n­­e­­w­­ L­­a­­n­­d­­ R­­o­­v­­e­­r ­­R­­a­­n­­g­­e ­­R­­o­­v­­e­­r­­ f­­r­­o­­m h­­a­­v­­i­­n­­g e­­a­­r­­n­­e­­d­­ $­­8­­7­­2 t­­h­­i­­s ­­l­­a­­s­­t­­ f­­o­­u­­r­­ w­­e­­­­e­­k­­s.­­.­­ I­­t­­ s­­o­­u­­n­­d­­s­­ u­­n­­b­­e­­l­­i­­e­­v­­a­­b­­l­­e­­ b­­u­­t ­­y­­o­­u w­­o­­n­­t f­­o­­r­­g­­i­­v­­e ­­y­­o­­u­­r­­s­­e­­l­­f i­­f ­­y­­o­­u ­­d­­o­­n­­’­­t­­ c­­h­­e­­c­­k i­­t­­…
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  12. As I recall, the reviews for the original were mixed. Some were great, others meh, and not a few guffawed. Lucas cried all the way to the bank.

  13. Scott says:

    You the man J.J.!

  14. Arnie Tracey says:


  15. Greg says:

    Hollywood gives itself a collective pat on the back. I’ll wait until someone other than an attention-seeker reviews it.

  16. Bren says:


  17. Pure Genius says:

    Cynical assholes in Hollywood will be crying into their beers. Looks like the Force is going to kick some butt.

  18. daygotom says:

    Awesome! Good to hear! I was so worried this movie would open to “meh” reviews.

  19. stevenkovacs says:

    I can’t wait for the Toronto premiere now!!
    May The Force Be With You!

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