In 2001, one year before the launch of Attack of the Clones, a grassroots movement swept across a number of English-speaking countries: Jediism. The philosophy had been around for generations, of course; the Jedi belief can be traced back to the release of A New Hope in ’77, but it was only in 2001 that residents began recording their religion as Jediism on the national census. Perhaps more than anything else, that movement made one thing crystal clear: for many, Star Wars is much more than just a blockbuster movie series.
The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams echoed that sentiment while speaking at the recent Milken Global Conference (via TheWrap). Joined by Apple’s Eddy Cue and Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book, The Lion King), Abrams touched base on the franchise’s impassioned fanbase, before stating that “Star Wars isn’t a movie, it’s a religion. But this religion people have — they don’t always know how fungible these things are.” And frankly, given the sheer level of excitement that The Last Jedi generated at last month’s Celebration event in Orlando, we’d struggle to argue with the filmmaker.
J.J. Abrams concluded by recalling a story of Harrison Ford interacting with the revamped Millennium Falcon set while filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Much like Mark Hamill and the late, great Carrie Fisher, Disney’s franchise revival was the actor’s first dalliance with that iconic galaxy far, far away in more than 30 years, and as Abrams remembers, it took Ford a little while getting used to the modernized cockpit and its interactive mechanics.
Next up for Lucasfilm and Disney’s juggernaut is the launch of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on December 15th of this year. Further afield, it looks as though the Mouse House is slowly beginning to move away from the crowded Christmas corridor in favor of a pre-summer window, given that both Han Solo and Star Wars: Episode IX are locked in for May 2018 and May 2019, respectively.