Star Wars Celebration was Almost Awesome

Star Wars Celebration Europe was great, but there was something missing.

I didn’t get to go to London for Celebration (and wouldn’t have – I don’t like crowds and I don’t like costumes).  But I’ve watched all the highlights through the Live Stream or the subsequent video posts.

Star Wars Celebration Anaheim was full of really emotional moments.  We got to finally meet the cast of The Force Awakens.  Daisy Ridley and John Boyega were infectious.  We learned a tad more about  TFA.  We saw a real-life BB-8 roll on stage and we were blown away.  We got our second TFA teaser that ended with “Chewie, We’re Home”.   We got to see the entire cast of Rebels on stage.  We saw Captain Rex and Darth Vader in the Rebels Season 2 Trailer.  We got a great Clone Wars panel and a panel dedicated to the unfinished “Bad Batch” arc.  We got an interview with Gareth Edwards about Rogue One and the thoughts behind “Anthology Films”.  He even brought a really cursory sizzle/promo/trailer thing.  It was nothing, but it was everything.  But most of all, we got to see the fan reactions.  We saw the elation during the trailers.  We heard the cheering and the tears.

We got the same formula this year.  We got the entire Rogue One panel. We got a fantastic Behind the Scenes sizzle real.   We got an Ahsoka/Clone Wars panel with Pablo Hidalgo and Dave Filoni. We got a behind the scenes look at how they built that BB-8 from SWCA.  We got a fantastic Rebels panel with two great clips from Season 3 and a Season 3 trailer that got a standing ovation.  Why?  We got Grand Admiral Thrawn into Canon.   It was fantastic!

Copyright Lucasfilm

But it also lacking something.  The formula was the same, but the results were different.  What was it?  I have some thoughts:

  1. No New Spinoff News: We got a “Future Filmmakers” panel with the directors for the new Han Solo film.  They announced Alden Ehrenreich would play the role of Han Solo.  But we kind of already knew this.  It was a good interview.  But they also had John Boyega, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher and there was some basic discussion of Ep8.   That was ok.  But… that was it.  There was no announcement of the name of the Han Solo film. We didn’t get a name for Episode VIII.  We didn’t get some kind of sizzle/trailer thing.  We didn’t learn more about what Lucasfilm is looking to accomplish in their future films.  What we really wanted to see was confirmation of an Obiwan Kenobi film.
  2. We didn’t hear much about Episode VIII at all.  This may be intentional – there’s concern around Rogue One being confused as the sequel to Ep7. But… nothing?  I mean, we got a 30 second… thing… months ago letting us know that filming had started.  We just got another trailer thing saying that filming had wrapped.  But at Star Wars Celebration, the largest assembly of Star Wars Superfans we get… nothing?
  3. The Rogue One BTS reel was great, but it lacked an emotional draw.  All we knew about Rogue One is from the first Teaser which was great.  But it would have meant more if there had been another teaser out prior as was the case when they showed the BTS Teaser for TFA at Comicon 2015.  We didn’t see a lot of the crowd reaction either.  I would like to have seen if they would have chanted to see the trailer again.
  4. Oh, and BTW, they showed that Rogue One panel audience 2 other trailer/sizzle things that they haven’t realized otherwise though they’ve leaked online.  Word is that they’re nothing special.  What?  You’re T-6 months to this release and you’re showing things that aren’t particularly special?  And you’re short a teaser trailer?
  5. As awesome as the Thrawn announcement was it shouldn’t have been a high point.

All of this is fine.  Lucasfilm has shown how much they care about the fans. But all of this, particularly around the information about the films, seems poorly managed.  We want another trailer at Celebration not another sizzle reel.  Sizzle reel can come out in August or September.  We want to know more about what Anthology films are forthcoming and what should we expect from them.  This celebration was a good showing, but it doesn’t seem to have lived up to last year’s benchmark.  The disappointment is that there’s so much more Star Wars being released right relative to last year now so there’s so much more to feed us.  And yet it felt a bit underdone.

What did work well this year was the live stream content.  While it was certainly good during SWCA, I thought the production value, organization, and content was very well done this year.  The Star Wars Show hosts asked great questions, there was a great mix of visitors, and we got to see the crowd response in the background.  I really enjoyed it.