The new generation of "Star Wars" films has kicked off with a gala world premiere in Los Angeles. Many fans had camped out for days in their "Star Wars" costumes to catch a glimpse of their favorite movie heroes.
The premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on Monday evening attracted crowds of fans dressed as Jedi Knights and other characters from the intergalactic epic tale of good versus evil.
The fans went into a frenzy seeking autographs and pictures as the stars of the new movie walked the red carpet - including the heroes of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, and newcomers Daisy Ridley, Max von Sydow, Gwendolyn Christie and John Boyega.
Disney, which now owns the Star Wars franchise, took over a kilometer-long section of Hollywood Boulevard for the premiere, where the film was screening at three theaters.
Police cordoned off the area around the famous Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, setting up metal detectors and deploying scores of officers and sniffer dogs.
"This is probably the biggest opening in decades," Jeff Bock, an analyst at box office tracker Exhibitor Relations, told reporters. "There's more security than at the Academy Awards. It's a huge deal."
Directors George Lucas (left) and J.J. Abrams at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
Ford: 'We have to live up to what the first films delivered'
To the delight of fans, the stars of the original blockbuster Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill return in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." The story of the new movie picks up 30 years after the events of "The Return of the Jedi" from 1983.
The role of Han Solo catapulted Harrison Ford to stardom. "Well, in the '70s nobody knew what to anticipate," Ford said in an interview with Starwars.com, referring to the first Star Wars film from 1977. "Nobody had ever seen anything like it. Now we have to live up to what the first films delivered."
J. J. Abrams, the director of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", seemed overwhelmed by the premiere in Los Angeles. "It's very surreal. I've never seen this kind of thing," he told Starwars.com. He had the difficult task of taking the epic tale created by George Lucas forward and meeting the high expectations of thousands of fans from all over the world.
Even after the world premiere, the plot of the new movie remains a secret. Those eager to read reviews must wait until Wednesday when a media embargo is lifted.
das/rc (AP, AFP, dpa)