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Saturday, 16 May 2015

REMEMBERING THE UK's 'STAR WARS: EPISODE III CELEBRATION DAY' - 2005

George Lucas and the cast of EPISODE III in Leicester Square- May 16th, 2005. 

Ten years ago today, worldwide STAR WARS fans gathered in the UK's beloved London West End for a monumental event that's still pretty much been unparallelled or equalled in its epic scale- the screening of all six George Lucas created films in one go on the big screen for what would become known as STAR WARS: EPISODE III CELEBRATION DAY, with some films shown in separate cinemas across the Leicester Square area, whilst one, the much missed original version of the EMPIRE, with its mighty screen and sound system, showed them all under one roof, in a sold-out, one-off uninterrupted screening (starting at 7.30 am) that was superbly presented, concluding with the first official public screening of EPISODE III (non-digital), once the lavish star-packed European premiere (digital) had commenced (of which, of the key cast, only Sam Jackson and Natalie Portman, then filming V FOR VENDETTA, were unavailable standouts). Lucas, McDiarmid and a clearly very nervous Hayden Christensen introduced the film at the EMPIRE, with Rick McCallum and all receiving a raptuous response and shaking fans hands. By night's end and the triumphant screenings of EPISODE III, the EMPIRE cinema interior became like a chanting football ground- the mob, almost like something from GLADIATOR, cheering a nicely lynched Lucas but also demanding "Seven to Nine, Seven to Nine!" At the time, Lucas said there was no more story and the audience left sad but still on a high. No Seven to Nine? Well, that's all changed, eh?!

Crowds gather for the European premiere outside the ODEON.
The ODEON Leicester Square gets ready for its European Premiere. Image: Scott Weller.
Fans lining up since 6am outside the London EMPIRE cinema. Image: Scott Weller.

Throughout the press-packed day, the massive centre park/garden of Leicester Square held an orchestra playing classic John Williams SW theme material to big screen clips, celebrities (including Sir Christopher Lee and Jeremy Bulloch) were interviewed to packed and attentive crowds, nearby eateries were full of STAR WARS promotions, a prop X-wing was a showcased display, and Imperial Stormtroopers and costumed fans of all ages were everywhere! The mid-afternoon and evening rain did little to dampen the people's spirits, and pulses raised ever higher when pretty much the entire film's cast, preceeded by Vader and a legion of Stormtroopers, arrived on the red carpet outside the ODEON Leicester Square.

A day long remembered indeed- one that I (Scott Weller) will certainly never forget!

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Film | Reporter's log: Star Wars marathon
▶ Star Wars Celebration Day - Interview with Christopher Lee - YouTube
▶ Star Wars E3 ROTS Celebration Day London 2 of 6 - YouTube

"The Saga is Complete" Well, it was in May 2005! Image: LUCASFILM/FOX.

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