Earlier today, Star Wars Celebration kicked off with the 40th Anniversary panel, which featured a bunch of previously-announced guests like Mark Hamill, Hayden Christensen and Peter Mayhew, with the panel hosted by Warwick Davis. If you weren’t in attendance in Orlando, LucasFilm has provided us with photos from the panel, along with even more shots from backstage, and in case you missed the live stream, you can still watch this two-hour panel at your own leisure below. This enormous event kicked off what should be an incredibly memorable weekend for Star Wars fans young and old alike.
LucasFilm has provided us quite a few photos from the event, which kicked off with a huge surprise. After panel host Warwick Davis introduced LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy, she in turn introduced the man who started it all, George Lucas, who was met with a thunderous ovation from the Orlando crowd. While the rest of the panelists rotated in and out throughout the morning, George Lucas and Warwick Davis were the panel’s constants, greeting their old friends as they were welcomed by the Celebration crowd. Of course, that wasn’t the only surprise the panel had to offer, with the crowd erupting once again when Harrison Ford took the stage.
Some fans were surprised by one thing the panel was lacking. There had been numerous rumors that Disney and LucasFilm would debut the first Star Wars 8 trailer during the 40th Anniversary panel, but that didn’t happen. That big reveal may be saved for tomorrow, when Kathleen Kennedy and director Rian Johnson will take the stage for the Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel, which takes place from 11 AM ET/8 AM PT to 12:30 PM ET/9:30 PM PT. While those are the only two confirmed guests at this panel, the official panel description teases that there will be, “plenty of surprises and special guests.”
Since Mark Hamill will also be hosting a special panel where he plays tribute to the late great Carrie Fisher tomorrow from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM, it certainly seems likely that Luke Skywalker himself will put in an appearance during the panel. Still, no other surprise guests have been confirmed yet, and it hasn’t been officially announced that the first trailer will in fact debut during this panel, or during any other portion of the weekend’s festivities. Last year’s Celebration only featured a handful of big announcements, with the reveal that Grand Admiral Thrawn will be introduced to the new Star Wars canon in Star Wars Rebels, along with the official announcement that Alden Ehrenreich was playing Han Solo, which wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret at that point.
While there were no massive Star Wars reveals during this opening panel, it was still quite memorable, with a heartwarming tribute to Carrie Fisher, the assembled cast members sharing various stories from the production and the first look at Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa in Star Wars 8. The panel ended with one final surprise, with legendary composer John Williams, who George Lucas himself called the “secret sauce” of the entire franchise, composing a live performance of beloved Star Wars themes, with the help of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.