Expect big 'Star Wars' news this weekend when Chicago hosts official convention

  • Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy was joined on stage by BB-8 and a squadron of Stormtroopers at the 2015 edition of Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. Who will join her and director J.J. Abrams this year at McCormick Place?

    Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy was joined on stage by BB-8 and a squadron of Stormtroopers at the 2015 edition of Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. Who will join her and director J.J. Abrams this year at McCormick Place? Associated Press

 
 

McCormick Place will look more like Coruscant this weekend when Star Wars Celebration, the official "Star Wars" convention featuring many of the franchise's creators and stars, begins its five-day residency on Thursday, April 11. The event offers all the trappings of a Comic-Con like C2E2 or Wizard World with the added attraction of attendees getting in on the ground floor of big "Star Wars" news -- the first trailer for December's "Star Wars: Episode IX" is expected to be shown here.

Dark Side: If you don't have tickets already, all that's left are $75 tickets ($35 for kids 6-12) for Monday, April 15, the last (and likely least momentous) day of festivities.

Light Side: Much of what happens at Star Wars Celebration will be filmed and/or livestreamed. You can follow along at starwars.com or the official Star Wars YouTube channel.

Here are four panels to look forward to:

"Star Wars: Episode IX" director J.J. Abrams will appear Friday, April 12, at Star Wars Celebration, the franchise's official convention, at McCormick Place in Chicago.
"Star Wars: Episode IX" director J.J. Abrams will appear Friday, April 12, at Star Wars Celebration, the franchise's official convention, at McCormick Place in Chicago. - Associated Press
'Episode IX'

This is the big one. At 11 a.m. Friday, April 12, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams will take the Celebration Stage at nearby Wintrust Arena and talk about the follow-up to 2017's "The Last Jedi" and the alleged final installment of what has come to be known as "The Skywalker Saga." Expect the title and trailer to be revealed, and a cavalcade of surprise guests to join Kennedy and Abrams on stage -- the kind of guests whose names appear very high up in the movie's end credits.

Galaxy's Edge

Disney Imagineers will be the stars at Wintrust Arena for a 90-minute panel beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 13, that promises an in-depth look at Galaxy's Edge, the new collection of "Star Wars" rides, shops and experiences coming this summer to Disneyland in California and Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. We already know we'll be able to pilot the Millennium Falcon on one ride and confront Kylo Ren's First Order troops on the other, and visitors to the Pandora: World of Avatar expansion at Disney's Animal Kingdom know that the Imagineers are doing truly amazing work these days.

Visitors to Disneyland and Walt Disney World will soon be able to pilot the Millennium Falcon at the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge areas coming to theme parks on both coasts.
Visitors to Disneyland and Walt Disney World will soon be able to pilot the Millennium Falcon at the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge areas coming to theme parks on both coasts. - Associated Press
'The Mandalorian'

Named for the race of humanoids that count Boba Fett among their ranks, "The Mandalorian" will be the cornerstone of Disney's new streaming TV service, Disney+, and an 11 a.m. panel on Sunday, April 14, with executive producers Jon Favreau ("Iron Man") and Dave Filoni ("The Clone Wars") promises the public's first look at the live-action series. The cast includes Pedro Pascal ("Game of Thrones"), Giancarlo Esposito ("Better Call Saul"), Nick Nolte and erstwhile directors Werner Herzog and Taika Waititi.

20 years?!

Warwick Davis, who has played multiple characters in the "Star Wars" universe, hosts an 11 a.m. panel on Monday, April 15, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the much-maligned "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace." Many of that film's stars have already been announced as convention guests, including Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine), Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks) and Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker), who is asking $199 for autographs and photo ops at the show. Apparently that's not too much -- one of his two photo sessions was sold out as of this writing.

• Follow Sean on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH. If you're going to the convention, Sean recommends riding the CTA into the Loop and taking the Green Line to the Cermak stop. It's a short walk from there.

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