WASHINGTON • Four decades ago, a Star Wars presentation to launch a fan base was a tiny session run on the cheap at San Diego's Comic-Con. Now, it can be a four-day fan convention in Orlando, Florida, with every hiccup of a half-rumour documented and dissected by the international media.
Here are five of the most fascinating things about the hotly anticipated next films, Episode VIII, The Last Jedi and Episode IX, to have come out of the Star Wars Celebration over the weekend:
1 Fans found out who the "last Jedi" probably is
Ever since the title of Episode VIII was revealed in January, the question has loomed like an Imperial base: Does The Last Jedi refer to a singular knight or a small army?
"It's so funny when people started asking that," director Rian Johnson told ABC News, which shares its Disney parent company with Star Wars. "I had never even pondered that question. In my mind, it's singular. In my mind, it is."
He also addressed the identity of the last Jedi - was it Mark Hamill's legendary Luke Skywalker or Daisy Ridley's fearless Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), some fans had asked. "As to whether Luke is the Last Jedi, they say in The Force Awakens he's going to find the last Jedi temple," Johnson said, "and Luke is the last Jedi."
2 The director promises one long crawl
Johnson teased weeks ago that his film would have an opening crawl. Now, he says it is a whopper.
"Even if (this film) picks up right where the last one left off, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about what the state of everything is," he told MTV at Star Wars Celebration. "We were able to fill three paragraphs."
3 Legends will fall hard
When The Force Awakens ends on that island of a hermit home for Luke, there are strong echoes of the Jedi's first encounter with his master, Yoda. As Rey comes bearing the old lightsaber, it looks likely that Luke will train her to use the Force.
Yet the first teaser trailer, unveiled last Friday, suggests that there could be friction - perhaps even anger - in the mentor-mentee relationship, as Luke seems to say: "It's time for the Jedi to end."
Then, Ridley said at the Star Wars Celebration that Rey, after years of hearing of Luke's legend, is due to be disappointed in him.
4 Carrie Fisher would not be in Episode IX
Fisher is very much in the Star Wars family's hearts - and Hamill's tribute to her moved many fans - but her character, Leia, would not be in Episode IX. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that Fisher - who had finished her Last Jedi scenes prior to her death last December - would not appear in the last film in this saga, digitally rendered or otherwise.
Johnson, meanwhile, noted that Fisher helped him with some Last Jedi dialogue, calling her a "brilliant writer". The Last Jedi is due in the United States on Dec 15. Episode IX will be released in 2019.
5 There is a new Resistance character
Star Wars Celebration brought actress Kelly Marie Tran, who said she could not tell her family for months that she was shooting a Star Wars film. She revealed that she will play Rose, a Resistance maintenance worker who looks to be the most high-profile new character added to the main franchise. May she get her own action figure and game piece soon.