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Lucca Comics: ‘Star Wars’ Fans Swarm Lightsaber Flash Mob, ‘Mockingjay – Part 2’ Promoted With Unseen Clip

LUCCA – Thousands of geeks from Italy and abroad poured into the medieval Tuscan town of Lucca over the weekend for the Lucca Comics & Games fest/convention which served as a  platform to promote several hot upcoming U.S. titles, including “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “The Peanuts Movie,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2,” and “The Hateful Eight.”

This unique event dedicated to fandom, cosplay, role-playing games and the entire cross-media universe of comics is increasingly becoming an integral part of the Hollywood studios’ promotional push in Europe, ever since its “Area Cinema” section started five years ago. Ticket sales totalled at least 180,000 for the four day meet, though figures are not final.

Disney disappointed legions of “Star Wars” fans who had been promised a “big unexpected surprise.” They waited in line for hours at dusk Saturday merely to be shown Kylo Ren’s new crossguard lightsaber, more-than-sixteen feet tall, being unveiled with plenty of fanfare and nothing else to follow in the garden of Lucca’s palatial Villa Bottini. This letdown sparked some negative Italian press and social media rumblings. Still, reflecting the meet’s mellow atmosphere, fans mostly took it in stride.

Earlier in the day hundreds of “Star Wars” cosplayers engaged in a massive flash mob lightsaber battle (pictured) organised by Murdoch-owned Sky paybox’s Sky Cinema unit to launch a dedicated “Star Wars” event channel they will beam November 7-15 in the run up to the release of “The Force Awakens,” out in Italy on December 16.

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Fans who on Saturday had lined up for hours to celebrate “Doctor Who” were rewarded with a live presentation by showrunner Steven Moffat and scribe Jamie Mathieson of the Italo launch of “The Magician’s Apprentice” episode that opens the ninth series of the BBC flagship show.

Japanese anime and manga director Mamoru Oshii made the trek to Lucca to screen his live action/CG effects hybrid “Garm Wars: The Last Druid,” hold a master class, and get a prize, with his producer and longtime collaborator Mitsuhisa Ishikawa in tow. Ishikawa is co-founder and CEO of Tokyo-based anime production powerhouse Production I.G., which, like Lucca Comics, is also involved in television series, video games and music.

Universal promoted the latest “Hunger Games” instalment with a packed presentation comprising a never shown before fifty-second scene featuring Katniss, Liam and fellow fighters running from a toxic oil wave. Something that in shorter form has already been revealed in the pic’s trailer.

To celebrate Halloween, Italian horror fans got the bow of the fourth episode of series six of “The Walking Dead,” thirty-six hours before its being aired in the U.S. on AMC. Robert Kirkman’s upcoming paranormal drama “Outcast,” based on the eponymous comic book title, was presented by its co-creator Paul Azaceta.

Italy’s 01 Distribuzione stoked buzz on Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” with eight minutes of footage previously  shown only at Comic-Con in San Diego. Warner Bros. tubthumped “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice”; David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad”; “Spectre”; “The Angry Birds Movie” based on the popular mobile game app; and also Ron Howard’s “In The Heart of the Sea,” about the mammoth whale that inspired Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.

Italian distributor Koch Media bowed Japanese anime auteur Isao Takahata’s 1988 classic “Grave of the Fireflies,” which is getting an Italian reissue release on November 10.

The closer for the film side of Lucca Comics – which ran October 29-November 1 – was the Italo preem of “The Peanuts Movie,” screened in tandem with a wide-ranging tribute show titled “The Fantastic World of Peanuts.” Fox is releasing “Peanuts” in Italy on November 5.

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