There is only one week left until Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters in Japan and around the world. The global press tour for this movie has already been making the rounds in places like Mexico City, and on the night of Wednesday, December 6, director Rian Johnson, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and stars Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) came to Tokyo to promote the new film. One by one, their cars pulled up at Roppongi Hills Arena, where they took part in a red carpet event and stage greeting, followed by a Q&A and a special screening of 13 minutes from The Last Jedi at Toho Cinemas Roppongi.
'The Last Jedi' Red Carpet Event in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
In contrast to the more subdued Tokyo International Film Festival, which takes place in the same midtown venue every year, the atmosphere of this premiere was more like that of a rock concert, with fans gathering inside and outside the arena, some of them sporting homemade costumes, others wearing authentic replicas of costumes from the Star Wars movie saga.
Along Keyakizaka Dori, the lighting pattern of the trees, which alternates between long intervals of blue and short intervals of red during the winter illumination every year, now seemed to take on added significance, as if fans were basking in the glow of a lightsaber duel where good was winning. Along the red carpet, a long line of autograph-seekers huddled together opposite news reporters, photographers, and TV camera crews.
At one point, director Rian Johnson even went into the crowd, posing for selfies with fans. First-Order Stormtroopers also walked the red carpet and appeared on stage with the droids C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8.
Mark Hamill in Tokyo: A Sort of Japanese Homecoming
Before he ever became Luke Skywalker, actor Mark Hamill actually spent two years in Japan, living in Kanagawa Prefecture while attending school at Yokohama High. As such, this event marked a sort of Japanese homecoming for him. It was the first time for him to make a work-related trip to Tokyo in 39 years. On stage, he joked that the only reason he left Japan in the first place was that his Japanese was not good enough for him to get an acting job.
'Star Wars' at 40 in the Land of the Rising Sun
This has been another banner year for Star Wars in Japan, with a massive snow sculpture in Sapporo and a 42-foot parade float in Fukuoka being two of the more memorable highlights. There is also another free exhibition planned at Nippon Television Tower in Shiodome from December 22nd to 29th. This should be a great way for Star Wars fans in Tokyo over the Christmas holiday to close out the 40th anniversary year of A New Hope, the movie that started it all. It actually marks the third straight year for Shiodome Star Wars exhibitions.
To get a look at the two previous exhibitions, check out this photo gallery. And if you missed it, be sure to check out this article on the Japanese roots of Star Wars, a piece of niche writing that allowed yours truly to break into the movie blogging field as a paid contributor to SlashFilm earlier this year.