Soon, we'll all get a chance to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But it will be with completely finished VFX work and a soundtrack. The very first time director J.J. Abrams ever screened the movie, it was without those things. An experience he describes as horrifying. What made it so miserable was the fact that all his new Disney bosses were in the room with him as this highly anticipated sequel unspooled for the very first time.
You can expect that it was a nerve racking experience for the filmmaker. Disney and LucasFilm have a lot riding on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is the first live-action movie in over ten years, and it is launching a new universe of sequels and spinoffs. And the previous prequels weren't well received by fans or critics. If the studio execs watching the movie have a problem, it's sure to come up in this preliminary viewing atmosphere. Speaking with Howard Stern on the talk show host's Sirius XM radio show, director J.J. Abrams had this to say about the experience.
"We showed the first cut - which was still incomplete, a complete version of the movie but not the finished version - and we showed it to Alan Horn, Bob Iger, and Alan Bergman, the three people at Disney who sat with me in the theater, and we screened the movie. And it was horrifying. I'm nervous beyond words, I'm showing this movie that is so far from finished, there's not an effect in it ... It was a lot of me giving excuses before the screening."
J.J. Abrams goes onto say that the reaction from this first screening was favorable. And as imagined, this relieved some of the filmmaker's stress. This is what Abrams had to say about the aftermath of showing Star Wars: The Force Awakens to those in charge for the first time.
"[It was] the biggest relief of my life. Their response was so kind, [I thought] they were just being nice."
While Howard Stern tried to get a few more spoilers out of the notoriously secretive director, J.J. Abrams wound't budge. But he did, once again, address the absence of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in all the promotional materials leading up to the big release. Abrams explained the following.
"Here's the thing: I really want to make sure that we're not ruining the movie for people, that they're not seeing too much of it before it comes out. I hate when I go and see a trailer and think that I've just seen the movie in encapsulated form ... I'd rather be asking questions than feel like they'd been answered for me."
What do you think? Should J.J. Abrams still be nervous about fans loving Star Wars: The Force Awakens even though execs gave it a favorable pass on that first screening? Or is he in the clear? We won't truly know until the first screening reports are delivered. Stay tuned for more in the days ahead.