The blockbuster franchise has released a new trailer for its upcoming movie "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." The video racked up milions of views, teasing the return of the notorious villain Darth Vader.
"Star Wars" fans celebrated late Thursday night as the latest trailer for the highly-anticipated "Rouge One: A Star Wars Story" was released online.
The 135-second teaser immediately garnered millions of views on YouTube, after it premiered in the United States during NBC's coverage of the Olympics.
The film is the first "Star Wars" universe spinoff since Disney bought the rights to the franchise. It tells the story of a group of rebels who set out to steal the plans for the Empire's ultimate weapon - the Death Star.
The story in "Rogue One" takes place before director George Lucas' original "Star Wars" films, which started with "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" in 1977.
Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones ("The Theory of Everything") plays rebel fighter Jyn Erso who is sent on a mission to investigate an upcoming "major weapons test" by the Empire. She is joined by another rebel fighter played by Diego Luna.
The film also features Mads Mikkelsen and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, who seemingly guides Jones' character.
Although some social media users took umbrage with the movie's female lead and inclusion of people of color, many fans responded positively to the new trailer.
One user sarcastically cobbled together some of the more sexist comments left under the trailer's YouTube video, creating ironic tag lines for the new film, including: "Women ruin everything"
Return of Vader
At the climax of the trailer, fans are treated to the sight of Darth Vader's wheezing silhouette - hinting that the infamous villain is set to return in "Rogue One."
The one-second cameo was the first sight of the character since the 2005 movie "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith."
The short trailer is packed with sweeping views of "Star Wars" landscapes, white helmeted stormtroopers and laser-firing Imperial battleships.
Scott Mendelson, a film writer for "Forbes Magazine," called it a "terrific piece of standalone entertainment as well as rock-solid marketing."
Last year's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" made more than $2 billion (1.85 bilion euros) at box offices worldwide. Analysts have predicted that "Rogue One" - due out in US theaters on December 16 - will likewise dominate box office revenue records this year.
The release of the sequel to "The Force Awakens" has been pushed back until December 2017, possibly pitting it against James Cameron's sequel to the blockbuster 3D hit, "Avatar."
rs/msh (AP, AFP)