LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The second trailer for the hotly anticipated Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released on Thursday - giving fans the first new footage of Darth Vader in more than a decade.
The 135-second teaser was due to premiere in the United States during NBC's primetime Olympics coverage but it didn't hit screens until 10.30pm on the east coast.
But the wait was worth it for fans, who were treated to sweeping spacescapes, all manner of Imperial battleships, laser fire everywhere and Donnie Yen in action.
The highlight was undoubtedly a one-second cameo by a certain Dark Lord of the Sith in full black regalia, his back to the camera, breathing like someone had just stamped on his inhaler.
It was the first glimpse of the character since 2005's Revenge Of The Sith, and came at the climax of the clip, which was made available online after its television debut.
Forbes magazine's film writer Scott Mendelson called it a "terrific piece of stand-alone entertainment as well as rock-solid marketing". NBC was flooded with complaints on Twitter about holding back on the trailer, some humorous, some irritated and others downright furious.
But when it finally aired, the Twitterati were cock-a-hoop, and one tweeter summed up the mood.
"Oh man, that Rogue One trailer was worth having to watch NBC's abysmal Olympic coverage tonight. Vader!" he enthused.
The first standalone Star Wars story, Rogue One is set just before A New Hope - the 1977 original film in the blockbuster series - and stars Felicity Jones alongside Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker and Jiang Wen.
It has not been revealed which actor has been hired for Vader's latest big-screen outing, due to hit theatres in the United States on December 16.
The character was voiced in the original trilogy by James Earl Jones, now 85, while David Prowse, now 81, donned the iconic cape and helmet.
The other Jones - Felicity - who was an Oscar nominiee for her role opposite Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything (2014), plays rebel Jyn Erso, who has notched up convictions for forgery, assault and theft.
She is sent on a mission to help investigate "a major weapons test" - better known as the Death Star in development - and find out how to destroy it.
Last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens made more than US$2 billion worldwide, and analysts expect Rogue One to dominate this year's box office.