Star Wars fans are already forming lines and camping out four days ahead of the Thursday night release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, billed as the finale to the nine-episode Skywalker Saga. Photos captured by TMZ outside Hollywood's famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre — where creator George Lucas' original Star Wars had its blockbuster premiere in 1977 — show a small gathering of fans, some clad in costume, camped out with folding chairs and mats as they await the J.J. Abrams-directed sequel that brings together Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and their Resistance allies against the ruling First Order commanded by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the returned Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).
Abrams acknowledged the passionate fanbase when addressing the fervor surrounding Star Wars on Popcorn with Peter Travers, where Abrams said Star Wars fans shouldn't be treated "as an adversary."
"They're passionate, and certainly can be contentious, but the fact they care — I feel like I, as a Star Wars fan, understand that love for the series," said Abrams, who previously directed 2015 franchise relaunch The Force Awakens. "So I feel blessed to be involved in something that matters so much to so many people."
Recalling his first experience with Star Wars when he was 10-years-old, Abrams said the since re-titled A New Hope was "mind-expanding" and the movie-making business was changed when Star Wars released.
"It had such an impact, obviously, on audiences and filmmakers, and not just the technology of it, but the sort of world-expanding nature of it, the sense of opportunity and possibility. And it's this thing that, for me, as a filmmaker, I feel very lucky to get to be involved in it," he said. "On [The Rise of Skywalker], I kind of went into it with a different point of view, having done one already. It was such a challenge, the ambition of it was so enormous. Not just because it was another Star Wars movie, but because it was the end of not three movies, but nine. And that was really the thing that I thought, 'This makes me really uncomfortable.' And so that was really the reason to do it, in a way, was to sort of finish what we had started with this trilogy. But to take the saga away, endings do not come easily."
Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams join forces once again to take viewers on an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the riveting conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga, where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker releases December 20.