LOS ANGELES: The VIP audience at "The Force Awakens" world premiere began cheering from the moment the movie's first words appeared on screen, with special enthusiasm for the return of Han Solo and Chewbacca after a 32-year hiatus.
The crowd at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood also greeted franchise newcomers with excitement, including Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma and Daisy Ridley's Rey, and loudly gasped at the film's various twists and turns.
After the premiere's showings at three separate theaters Monday night, audiences spilled out into an after-party held inside a giant tent erected along four blocks of Hollywood Boulevard. They snapped photos with Stormtroopers, lined up to build their own droid toys and noshed on salmon and short ribs.
While most stars opted for chic red carpet attire, Joseph Gordon-Levitt showed up dressed as Yoda and actor-comedian Rainn Wilson dressed as a Jedi.
Director J.J. Abrams' vision for the first new live-action "Star Wars" film in a decade met with wholehearted approval from many of the celebrity guests.
"I loved it," actor-director Zach Braff told The Associated Press immediately after the premiere. "I thought J.J. did an amazing job. My favorite part was just seeing the camaraderie between the veteran and the new cast members."
"The Force Awakens" mixes old-school characters, such as Harrison Ford's Han Solo and Carrie Fisher's Leia Organa, with a new cast that includes John Boyega, Adam Driver and the spherical droid BB-8.
Celebs at 'Star Wars' premiere offer glowing reviews online
Film critics may not weigh in on the latest “Star Wars” film until early Wednesday, but celebrity guests at the Hollywood premiere are already flooding the social media galaxy with praise for “The Force Awakens.”
The most breathlessly anticipated film of the year was finally screened Monday night, ending a period of unprecedented cinema secrecy that's kept everything but the barest details under wraps from almost everyone.
And while story specifics are still scant, the initial response is universal: it's exactly what fans have been waiting for.
“It was epic, awesome & perfect,” actor Rainn Wilson, who attended the premiere dressed as a Jedi, wrote on Twitter. “The cast was stellar. JJ killed it!”
Walt Disney Studios, which will release “The Force Awakens” globally later this week, is keeping reviews of the film under embargo until 3:01 a.m. EST on Wednesday, but famous fans couldn't help but gush.
“Holy crap, that Star Wars #TheForceAwakens is so good in the best old-school way!” Shonda Rhimes wrote on Twitter.
“There's a new hero in town, in a movie that DELIVERS,” Rob Lowe posted. “Cried like a baby, whooped like a teen! #StarWarsForceAwakens.”
Stars were just as effusive in person at Monday night's premiere.
“I loved it,” actor-director Zach Braff told The Associated Press immediately after the premiere. “I thought J.J. did an amazing job. My favorite part was just seeing the camaraderie between the veteran and the new cast members.”
Comedian Patton Oswalt said “The Force Awakens” brought him back to what made him fall in love with “Star Wars” in the first place.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said after watching the film inside the TCL Chinese Theatre, where “Star Wars” first premiered in 1977. “I had the same feeling as when I would watch these films as a kid.”
He continued sharing his thoughts on Twitter.
“JJ did it,” he wrote. “And without spoiling it, I can say that #StarWarsForceAwakens has the BEST final shot of any Star Wars film. Wow.”
Actor Josh Gad, whose Twitter page is fronted by a photo of the Millennium Falcon, was also taken back to his childhood by the latest “Star Wars” installment.
“Congrats to #JJAbrams and the entire cast and crew on an incredible film,” Gad wrote on Twitter amid a flurry of posts from the premiere. “#ForceAwakens made me a giddy 10 year old all over again.”