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New ‘Star Wars’ teaser awakens ‘The Force’ in fans

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – The force won’t officially awaken until December, but Star Wars fans got an early glimpse Thursday with the debut of a spooky new teaser trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

The clip features the wreckage of a star destroyer, X-Wing battles, the Millennium Falcon in action, and a first look at Harrison Ford as Han Solo.

“Chewie, we’re home,” Solo says at the close of the brief teaser, prompting the audience to scream and applaud.

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Die-hard fans packed the main hall at the Anaheim Convention Center for the event known as Star Wars Celebration. They wore costumes and wielded light sabers as they watched director J.J. Abrams and producer and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy kick off the four-day event.

Franchise cast newcomers Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega surprised the audience with appearances and regaled the rapt fans with anecdotes about the highly anticipated film set to hit theaters Dec. 18.

The fans were treated to a few morsels of new information even though the film remains cloaked in secrecy.

Abrams, who is finishing the edit of the film, spoke about his love for the series and his insistence on keeping sets for the new episode as real as possible, even in the age of computer-generated images.

“The thing that struck me … is how real you knew and felt Star Wars was when you first saw ‘A New Hope,’” he said. “You want it to be legitimate. You want it to be authentic. Building as much as we could was really the mandate.”

He also revealed that the desert landscape seen in both teasers was the planet Jakku, not Tatooine as seen in other episodes. Filming took place in Abu Dhabi to get the “John Ford landscapes” – a reference to the renowned director of Westerns.

It’s “a Western and a fairy tale as much as anything else,” Abrams said of “The Force Awakens.”

Ridley said her character Rey is a scavenger who is completely self-sufficient and solitary until she meets another character. In the new teaser, viewers see Rey meeting Finn, the character played by Boyega, who wears a storm trooper suit in the clip and is in unspecified immediate danger.

Isaac said his character Poe Dameron, an X-Wing pilot, “is the best freaking pilot in the whole galaxy.”

“Star Wars” veterans Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels and Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew also made appearances.

“You grew up with us. It’s amazing to be part of so many people’s childhood,” added Fisher, who noted that she would not be sporting her signature buns or metal bikini in the new film.

Harrison Ford, who was recently involved in a plane crash, did not attend. Kennedy assured the audience that the actor was resting and getting well at home.

Other special guests included a brigade of new storm troopers, series mainstay R2-D2, and the brand new ball droid BB8, who became a fan favorite when the first teaser trailer debuted in November.

“I loved all the little details like having BB8 come out,” said 24-year-old fan Meghan Conmy, who traveled with friends from San Francisco for the event. “I was already excited but now even more so. I got chills. We were tearing up.”

Bedecked in a golden Queen Amidala costume, 10-year-old Julia Morales was also excited to be at her first celebration with her older sister Lucia. They live in Rancho Cucamonga.

“I can tell it’s going to be really awesome,” Morales said of the upcoming movie.

James Allen, 22, of Suffolk, England, marveled over the atmosphere and the surprise of getting to see the new cast.

“The footage showed us everything we need to know about the film’s vision, but nothing about what the film is actually about,” Allen said. “It was a very well-made trailer and worth the 24-hour wait.”

Star Wars Celebration is produced by Lucasfilm and dedicated to Star Wars past and present.