The main convention hall is a modest size for a convention with this many attendees. Large scale dioramas and booths for major licensors intermingle with mom and pop collectable stalls. There’s only so much variety you can squeeze out of a single property, even one as pervasive as Star Wars. Contrary to the hype surrounding exclusive merch, this isn’t the be-all end-all of Celebration. The real heart of Celebration is in the panels, most of which aren’t being streamed. In some cases, the information and opportunities offered therein is more exclusive than anything in the Celebration Store.
In “Secrets of the Mos Eisley Cantina”, Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo teamed up with mask and prop master Tom Spina to dig deep behind the scenes of one of the saga’s most memorable sequences. Even with access to the Lucasfilm archives, there’s still much about the dank and smokey wateringhole that’s shrouded in mystery. Who played what characters? Where did the masks come from? The tales of the shoot’s history is as complex and unusual as the cantina itself. The panel offered a wealth of cool insight for fans, but didn’t stop at slide shows and anecdotes. Spina brought out three of the original masks from the shoot – lovingly restored by his studio, and Hidalgo raffled off a chance for a fan to officially name one of the cantina background characters. Now, the barfly affectionately nicknamed “Little Aunt Beru” will forever be known as Damono Deomaley.
Elsewhere at the convention, Carrie Fisher closed her panel by making out with a fan who only wanted a selfie with her. His adolescent fantasies manifested in front of a crowd of thousands and one flabbergasted host:
Nestled in between panel stages was The Force Awakens Exhibit – an unassuming room where several people at a time were able to come face to face with various props and costumes from the forthcoming film. Among the cases were costumes for a redesigned Snowtrooper and the all-new Flametrooper as well as the film’s presumed villain, Kylo Ren. Seeing Ren up close is an incredible thing. The mask is sleek but worn, the vest is made of braided basket weave, and the infamous tri-blade lightsaber looks to be cobbled together out of spare parts. The entire exhibit was filled with subtle clues about the nature of the new characters and what’s to come in the film.
Among the bigger events not to be streamed was the aforementioned discussion with Gareth Edwards. During the Sunday panel, which once again packed the arena, the first real info about 2016’s Rogue One was revealed. Separate from the Star Wars episodes, the spinoff takes place prior to A New Hope and is a grim war film about the Rebels’ theft of the original Death Star plans. Edwards revealed that the film is staffed by alumni of some of the best war films of the past two decades and is grounded in a sense of realism. “God is not coming to save us,” he added – referring to the film’s decided lack of any Force-wielders. The news was punctuated by a stunning, though short, teaser trailer depicting the Death Star hovering in the orbit of a jungle world and a transmission of scrambled, panicking voices.