LOS ANGELES (AP) – An elaborate premiere featuring a massive assault vehicle and a procession of Stormtroopers and droids preceded the first showing of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” and initial reactions praised the latest installment of the beloved space opera franchise.
Formal reviews won’t be out for a few days, but journalists and others at the screening who shared their initial reactions online said “The Last Jedi” packed the adventure expected in a Star Wars film, but took it into new territory.
“Logan” director James Mangold praised “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson, calling his film “a great chapter of a blockbuster franchise, spectacular and unpredictable, but also his own voice shining through.”
Producer Adam F. Goldberg wrote that the film made him feel like a kid again.
Many who posted online about the premiere said they were still processing the film, which features the return of Luke Skywalker and the final performance of Carrie Fisher, who died after filming the eighth installment in the core Star Wars franchise.
Attendees at Saturday’s premiere were the first people outside the cast, filmmakers and top executives at Walt Disney Co. and Lucasfilm who had seen “The Last Jedi.” It will be publicly released on Friday.
Fans at the premiere were treated to up-close looks at new characters, including an elite squad of guards clad in red armor as well as a collection of droids, including the droids C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8, who walked and rolled down the red carpet before the film’s stars arrived.
“It’s a Star Wars movie, and the energy tonight is pretty amazing,” said a beaming Andy Serkis, who plays the villain Supreme Leader Snoke.
Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, arrived wearing a shimmering dress adorned with stars. Ridley was in good spirits, saying about her dress, “I mean, it’s just fun. It’s fun. And I feel fun. And it’s got stars on it.”
Newcomer Kelly Marie Tran wore a bright red dress with a lengthy train behind it. John Boyega, who earlier in the day tweeted that he might miss the premiere because a snowstorm had snarled travel out of Atlanta, arrived sporting a dark blue tuxedo and turtleneck.
Secrecy about the film remained in place on the red carpet. Anthony Daniels, who plays C-3PO, told a reporter looking for details on the film, “I’m going to let you work out everything for yourself.”
“The Last Jedi,” which arrives in theaters on Dec. 15, is one of the year’s biggest releases and includes the return of Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher’s final role. Early box office projections are for the film to debut in the $200 million range for its first weekend.