This weekend it's Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars, as Star Wars Celebration Europe descends upon London from July 15 - 17. In addition to being an incredible opportunity for fans from all over the world to gather, dress up, hang out in one spot, and maybe break out into spontaneous lightsaber battles, it's a place where LucasFilm and its many partners show off what the future of Star Wars will look like in the coming years.
Celebration is where we typically get our fix of Star Wars-related announcements, reveals, new clips and trailers, and loads of great interviews from actors, directors, game designers, and much, much more. And while we don't exactly know what surprises LucasFilm has in store, I've gone through the list of scheduled panels and listed a few of things we're dying to see.
A deeper look at Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One's December release date is rapidly approaching, and we've still only got the one teaser trailer and a few details about the film. We know the movie's about a rag-tag group of Rebels and mercenaries trying to steal the Death Star plans from the Empire, that it's going to be a bit darker than The Force Awakens, and that there's going to be a distinct lack of Jedi, but that's about it. Everything else? Well, that's still a mystery.
A Rogue One panel at Star Wars Celebration could potentially delve into a bit more of the specifics, giving us a closer look at this motley crew of conspirators, as well as some insight into a few key plot points. Hopefully we'll get an extended look at some actual video footage of the upcoming film, as well. Maybe we'll even get some word as to why Rogue One is undergoing a few reshoots, though I wouldn't hold my breath on that one.
More detail on upcoming Star Wars movies
So Rogue One's out this year, but we also know a bit about every Star Wars movie through 2020. Episode 8 is up next in 2017, and while we probably won't get any new footage (and if we do get footage, it'll probably be a very, very small teaser), here's hoping LucasFilm announces the official subtitle for the film.
As for what comes after Episode 8, well, there's the untitled Han Solo film, Episode 9, and another anthology film whose subject hasn't been officially confirmed yet. Those films are still a way off (don't expect a peep about Episode 9 until Episode 8 is wrapped and in theaters), but hopefully we'll at least get some more information about what those other anthology films are going to cover.
A cool story from Mark Hamill
This year, Star Wars Celebration opens with a special, hour-long panel with Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, and I'm sure he's got some stories to tell. While he's probably not going to spill the beans on what's up with his role in Episode 8 (come on, people, there's some joy in not knowing), that doesn't mean it's not going to be a fascinating discussion. 60 minutes isn't long enough to hear all the interesting tales he's got rolling around that noggin of his - here's hoping we get some hot, relevant Wing Commander discussions going.
A cool story from Carrie Fisher (and her dog, Gary)
Don't forget about Carrie Fisher! She's got her own hour-long panel on Sunday, and I'm sure it's going to be just as fascinating as Hamill's. The woman who brought Princess Leia to life over four different films will take to the stage to discuss her experiences, both on and off camera, and if it's anything like previous Carrie Fisher panels, it's going to be one to watch. Again, don't expect bombshells regarding upcoming films, but considering how outspoken and frank Fisher is, it certainly won't be boring. Maybe she'll even bring her dog, Gary, along to hang out and mug for the crowd.
In fact, let's just bring out the whole cast of The Force Awakens
Now, I'm not saying that the cast of Episode 7 (and, ostensibly, Episode 8) is the greatest group of humans ever assembled in one place, but Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver make a really compelling case. With Episode 8 on the way you've already got a reason to put them in the same room together, but they'd be just as interesting to watch even without the pretense of a press junket. Give them 15 minutes and a couple of mics and just watch the magic unfold before your eyes.
What's next for Star Wars Battlefront?
Star Wars Battlefront just got its Cloud City DLC (complete with all the Dengar you could possibly want), which means the Death Star expansion is coming up next. We still don't know much about what that entails, so Star Wars Celebration seems like as good a place as any to announce the characters and maps it includes to get people hyped for its fall 2016 release.
After that, there's one more bit of DLC coming in early 2017 that we know nothing about, so here's hoping we find out what's going on with that in a few days. And back in May, EA revealed that Battlefront 2 would be coming in 2017 with "new movie content". It's probably too early for EA to talk about it (at least until the current run of DLC on the first game is finished), but hey, one can dream.
And what the heck is ILMxLAB?
Here's an interesting thing in the list of panels at Star Wars Celebration: it's something called ILMxLAB, and it describes itself as a "new laboratory for immersive entertainment." The team is working on something that will bring Star Wars into your home like never before through something it calls "mixed reality" - likely a combination virtual and augmented reality technology that puts fictional objects in the real world around you.
Last month, ILMxLAB unveiled a test video which showed C-3PO and R2-D2 projected into a room as holographic images, with R2 wheeling around and eventually projecting a topographic layout of what appears to be a Tatooine village on a table in the middle of the room. Holographic TIE-Fighters and X-Wings do battle while the Millenium Falcon takes off, and the camera leans in and looks around to check out the scene from different angles. It's a cool-looking piece of tech, but what do you do, exactly, outside of watching the equivalent of a theme park ride play out in front of you? We'll probably find out - along with what it means for normal consumers like you and me - at Star Wars Celebration.