Last year, several weeks before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams and LucasFilm arranged for a terminally ill fan, Daniel Fleetwood, to see the film before anyone else, just days before he passed away. Earlier this year, while promoting the home video release, J.J. Abrams revealed that there were approximately two dozen other screenings like this for fans who would not have been able to see the movie when it came out, and now we have word that LucasFilm is continuing this wonderful tradition. Over the weekend, the studio screened their highly-anticipated spin off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for a lifelong fan named Neil Hanvey, who sadly passed away at the age of 36, two days after the screening.
Amy Duncan, an employee of St. Michael's Hospice in the U.K. started the online campaign in April, after Neil was admitted to the hospice upon learning that he only had between six to eight months left to live. The hashtag #RogueOneWish quickly started trending, even getting support from Mark Hamill, who retweeted an article about the campaign to his 1.23 million followers. On Saturday, August 20, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards came through and provided a cut of the film for Neil Hanvey to watch. Here's a statement from the St. Michael's Hospice Facebook that went up on Monday.
"On behalf of Neil Hanvey, his wife Andrea and all his family, we want to thank everyone who supported the #RogueOneWish campaign. The director of Rogue One, Gareth Edwards did all he could to make Saturday a very special day for Neil. Neil, his family and everyone at St Michael's Hospice would like to say thank you to Disney, Lucasfilm and especially Gareth Edwards."
Unfortunately, Neil Hanvey, an illustrator and web designer from Manchester U.K., passed away on Monday, August 22, just two days after watching the film. The St. Michael's Hospice Facebook was updated yesterday morning with a statement from Neil Hanvey's wife Andrea, thanking fans from around the world for their condolences and helping make Neil's wish come true. Here's what she had to say below.
"On behalf of all our family we would like to thank everyone who has passed on their condolences following Neil's death last night. We would also like to thank the tens of thousands of people who supported the #RogueOneWish campaign. All the messages of love during the past week have given us a great deal of comfort during a very difficult time. We would also like to thank everyone at St Michael's Hospice, especially Amy Duncan, without who #RogueOneWish would not have happened. All donations at Neil's funeral will go to the Hospice's Family Support team and will be used to fund work with children and young people. An online donation page will be set-up shortly."
With four months left until this Star Wars spin off debuts, we'll have to wait and see if any more online campaigns get started for more terminally ill fans who may not be able to see Rogue One. Since J.J. Abrams screened The Force Awakens more than two dozen times to sick fans, we have to imagine that the studio would do their best to make their wishes come true. Stay tuned for more on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as we get closer to the December 16 release date.