CHICAGO -- The first trailer for the next "Star Wars" movie was streamed live Friday morning in Chicago, and if you weren't lucky enough to be in the room where it happened, think Jobs-era Apple iProduct unveiling, with more black capes than black turtlenecks. Think enigmatic power-broker captains of industry striding across a stage and proclaiming the future has arrived. Think a youngish, tech-savvy flock of faithful listening intently at their feet. Think standing ovations. Then more standing ovations. Then finally, it's time, the lights lower, the room hushes. The trailer. Ever seen 7,000 people lean forward? This happened, too.
Think nervous anticipation.
Moments earlier, lightsabers ignited, waving in neon reds and blues and greens. John Williams' famous march -- dun, dun, dun, dun-da-dun, dun-da-dun -- quickened pulses. George Lucas explained in a video that he initially intended to create a "modern fairy-tale," Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) recalled fans thanking him; Stephen Colbert bounded out to MC: "Please sit down," he said, "you'll need to conserve energy." Not unlike a "Star Wars" film unfolding, each moment was topped by the next.
For the record, if you still haven't heard ...
The new movie is named "Star Wars: Episode IX -- The Rise of Skywalker," and there's a desert, and a cool standoff between Rey and a Tie Fighter, lots of flying about, then, in the darkness of the title card, the cold laugh of the Emperor, long thought to be dead!
But really, who cares?
This is about a mood, and a feeling, and a warmth, and a bond. As a new image of an 80-something Billy Dee Williams (returning as Lando Calrissian) flashed past, a man in the audience leaned over to his wife and said loudly, "I can't help it, I'm losing it," then he wept. Throughout, in the silences, you could hear that, a sniffle or a laugh cracking into tears. The trailer featured Luke Skywalker saying, "No one is ever really gone" and, presumably to the young Rey, "a thousand generations live in you now." The message was less a sledgehammer than an embrace: At a moment when no one really believes anything bonds us anymore, "Star Wars" is a cultural legacy and bond. And it loves you.
Even Colbert grew serious. He said "Star Wars" reminds him that he was once a child.
This unveiling was the central event of Star Wars Celebration, the semi-regular, Lucasfilm-organized salute to all things Lucasfilm and "Star Wars," happening this time at McCormick Place for five days, expecting to draw 35,000 fans a day. It was billed modestly as a conversation about "Star Wars: Episode IX" with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams, but the open secret was, they'll show a trailer, they'll offer a glimpse at the trajectory of this universe and, of course, a film title.
The title, when it finally appeared at the end of the trailer, drew whoops, cheers, an electric reaction in an already electric room: Jovan Ramirez of San Francisco said, "That title, that's phenomenal, that's really what fans needed, exactly the right tribute."