The next generation of Star Wars films kicked off with an elaborate debut for The Force Awakens in Los Angeles Monday that served as a proverbial passing of the lightsaber to new groups of fighters dueling in a cinematic galaxy far, far away. The premiere had familiar elements for a Star Wars event: Stormtroopers marched and droids rolled down the red carpet. Later, Carrie Fisher joked for the cameras, and Harrison Ford and Lupita Nyong'o reflected on the next phase of the franchise. The world's first screening of the seventh Star Wars film attracted a constellation of stars, including Spike Lee, Jon Favreau, Janelle Monae, Elizabeth Banks, and Sofia Vergara. While many opted for chic red-carpet attire, Joseph Gordon-Levitt showed up dressed as Jedi master Yoda.
Disney took over a half-mile section of Hollywood Boulevard for the premiere, where some 5,000 invited guests would see the characters Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo reunite for the first time on the big screen since 1983's Return of the Jedi. John Williams' soaring score played in a massive opaque tent that built on years of secrecy surrounding the film, which some expect to break box office records when it's released on Friday. In bleachers set up on the boulevard, some fans dressed as X-wing pilots, while others donned outfits from new Force Awakens characters. Director JJ Abrams seemed overwhelmed by the magnitude of the event, which could be the largest Hollywood premiere ever. "It's very surreal. I've never seen this kind of thing," he told Starwars.com.