May the Fourth Be With You! Here is what’s going on in Austin to celebrate Star Wars Day

For a few years now, hardcore “Star Wars” have celebrated May 4 as Star Wars Day. It’s a pretty easy pun on “May the Force be with you,” even if “Star Wars” aka “Star Wars: A New Hope” actually debuted May 25, 1977.

RELATED: “The Force Awakens” is a winner

How are Austinites celebrating?

Well, members of the 501st (the living, breathing cosplaying Stormtroopers) may very well be stopping by Dragon’s Lair in the morning and the LEGO store at Barton Creek Mall that afternoon.

Dozens of fans dressed as Rey face off against a tiny Kylo Ren for a group photo at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, FL, on April 16, 2017. Alyssa Vidales/American-Statesman

RELATED: The Force is with “Rogue One”

The sci-fi film festival Other Worlds Austin is throwing their 3rd Annual Star Wars Day event over at the 4th Tap Brewing Co-operative (10615 Metric Blvd.) from 7 to 11 p.m. May 4. This free event features Star Wars fan films, a costume contest, a Wookiee mating call contest and a new beer called  “The Fist of the Empire.”

According to the news release, “4th Tap will also be renaming their Zephyr served in the taproom to ‘The Iron Knight’ to represent the Light Side of the Force. A third taproom offering will be a ‘black and tan’ with The Fist of the Empire served over The Iron Knight. This special beer will be called ‘The Voss Mystic,’ as it represents the blended or balanced.” Got all that?



C-Boy’s Heart & Soul (2008 S. Congress Ave) is hosting its Second Annual May The 4th Be With Y’all Star Wars celebration from 5 p.m. to midnight.  Kids will be welcome (with parent or guardian) from 5 to 8 p.m.; it will be 21 and older only from 8 p.m. to midnight. The celebration will benefit  Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas. Look for the Baffles to perform surf rock versions of “Star Wars” music, local pin-up belly dancer Michelle Manx performs her Oola dance, Saber Guild-Jakku Temple will put on a light saber display, and Fan Force Austin will host a Star Wars trivia game. There will be nail art by Nails Y’all and sweet treats by PMS Bakery.

Beer lovers aren’t being left out, either. Friends & Allies Brewing is launching a new beer on the heels of its grand opening in East Austin: Protocol Droid, a Belgian golden ale with hibiscus and yerba mate. The sassy brew debuts at Banger’s, at 79 Rainey Street, Thursday evening with a Friends & Allies tap takeover that will have four of their other beers on draft. Come in wearing your “Star Wars” costume.

RELATED: The “Star Wars” universe is expanding

The dress Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in the medal ceremony scene in Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope on display at the Prop Store Ltd. booth at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, FL on April 13-16, 2017. Alyssa Vidales/American-Statesman

Over at the Windsor Park Branch of the Austin Public Library (5833 Westminster Drive) look for a kid-oriented Revenge of the Fifth celebration from 6 to 8:30 p.m. May 5 complete with a costume show, trivia contest, games, prizes, photo booth, button and bookmark crafts and snacks.

 

SXSW attendees, you’re our only hope: Immerse yourself in ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’

By Alyssa Vidales, American-Statesman staff (and resident “Star Wars” expert)

Want to join the Rebellion? Your mission awaits at South by Southwest.

A little piece of the Star Wars universe has popped up at Grimes Studio on 500 E. Fifth St. during the South by Southwest Conference and Festival. The space has been transformed into an immersive experience inspired by 2016’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” the latest film in the Force-filled franchise.

“Rebel Mission – Escape from Scarif” is open to SXSW badgeholders and offers the opportunity to channel your inner Rogue One crew member to steal the plans to the Death Star and transmit them back to the Rebel Alliance before time runs out.

No blasters required for this mission— participants need only brainpower to save the rebellion from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday this weekend.

The SXSW installation is an escape room-like experience in which small groups of participants must solve a series of puzzles in order to progress through the course. Sights and sounds from the planet Scarif add to the immersive problem-solving mix.

Be careful not to choke on your aspirations – like all escape experiences, the Rebel Mission is timed. Taking too long to steal the plans to the Death Star just might put you face-to-face with the destiny you weren’t looking for.

Some Rebel intelligence worth keeping in mind before venturing out:

  1. Choose your crew wisely. The tasks aren’t easy and take some teamwork to work though. Don’t get cocky, kid.
  2. Think outside the box. Jedi mind tricks won’t work in this mission, but the cellular one in your pocket just might. That is, if you’re like me and aren’t a math wiz.
  3. Trust the Force. Always.

May the Force of others be with you. You’re gonna need it.

The Alamo Drafthouse is honoring Carrie Fisher with a lightsaber vigil

The Alamo Drafthouse will hold a lightsaber vigil for the late Carrie Fisher outside Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar at 6:30 p.m. tonight (December 28).

“Attendees are encouraged to dress up as their favorite “Star Wars” characters, bring along as many lightsabers as you own, and invite your fellow Wookiees, Bounty Hunters, Ewoks, and Stormtroopers,” stated the entry on the Drafthouse blog.

Don’t own a lightsaber? Feel free to bring flashlights and glow sticks.screen-shot-2015-11-12-at-08-28-48

SXSW scene: “Secrets of ‘The Force Awakens’: A Cinematic Journey”

SXSW Film director Janet Pierson welcomed a packed downstairs at the Paramount Theatre Monday afternoon and, after a few words, told the audience a very special guest was in attendance. Some in the audience released an audible gasp, and then, King of the Fanboys, J.J. Abrams came out to thunderous applause to introduce the behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

The love for the man who helped resurrect and restore a piece of the childhood of millions was evident.

“The Force is certainly strong today,” a guy behind me said, as another yelled, “We love you, J.J.”

Abrams, shockingly visiting Austin for just the first time, expressed how excited he was to shine a light on a few of the hundreds of people who helped make the dream for so many a realty.

It was the first time many had gotten much in depth info about the filming, a super furtive process referenced by many of the cast in the opening scenes of the doc.

“Are we allowed to talk about this?” was the general concern.

Director J.J. Abrams attends the screening of "Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey" during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Paramount Theatre on March 14, 2016 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for SXSW)
Director J.J. Abrams attends the screening of “Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey” during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Paramount Theatre on March 14, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for SXSW)

The movie opens with the internal announcement that Abrams will be leading the reboot. It is one of many scenes of closed-door meetings fans rarely get to see. And it almost didn’t happen. Abrams, who had worked on sequels in the past and had great reverence for the early films, said he almost didn’t take the job, as it felt like too much responsibility.

But it was obvious he was the man for the job. LucasFilm boss Kathleen Kennedy expressed throughout the film how important it was to maintain the feel and ingredient of the early films, and Abrams’ process helped cultivate that.

He and “Empire Strikes Back” scribe Lawrence Kasdan spent days walking the streets of Paris, London and elsewhere talking through their ideas about the movie and the story.

What Abrams knew from the beginning was that he wanted a new female heroine who would be introduced to Luke Skywalker. It was a great foundation for the story, and Abrams’ desire to use as much actual physical sets as possible helped make the movie feel tangible and connect it to the realism that we all gravitated to in “Star Wars.”

Kasdan wasn’t the only returning member of the “Star Wars” team. The doc introduces audiences to visual effects artists and other crew who either worked on the first trilogy or had parents who did. That continuity to the endeavor gives the film a familial vibe that reflects how so many audiences come to the film — with family.

Of course it wasn’t just crew returning, there is the original trio of actors. Carrie Fisher explains in the film how her first day of shooting was the worst of her life, and the usually reticent Harrison Ford talks about how, after the second movie, he wanted his character of Han Solo to have a role in the emotional stakes of the story.

One of the coolest parts of the movie was watching Ford walk into the Millennium Falcon for the first time. And if you thought you were stoked when Solo and Chewbaca entered the old spacecraft, Abrams had you beat, as evident in his joyful reaction during the shooting of that scene.

That joy and Abrams’ sense of duty and responsibility was pervasive throughout the cast and crew, from old-timers to modern stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.

Creating a movie is part miracle and part magic. “Secrets of ‘The Force Awakens'” peak behind the curtain doesn’t ruin the magic trick, it makes you appreciate the movie even more and helps you realize that the people who made it love it as much as you do.

At the end of the screening, some supervisors and producers took the stage for Q&A. But everyone whipped their cameras out for R2D2, feeling like kids once again.

Readers: Show us your ‘Star Wars’ photos!

Is your desk so crowded with Stormtrooper action figures that it looks like the Death Star? Have you dressed like Han Solo every Halloween for ten years straight? Does your dog bear an uncanny resemblance to Yoda? Then show us, and we’ll show the rest of the world!

The Statesman, in celebration of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opening this week, wants photos that show the utmost of fandom from our readers. Costumes, souvenir collections, themed Christmas light displays? Bring ’em on. Send your pictures to readerphotos@statesman.com, and we will collect the best ones in a photo gallery.

John and Niki Powers dress as Star Wars characters Princess Leia and Bobafet on the first day of Wizard World Austin Comic Con at the Austin Convention Center on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. (ERIKA RICH / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Josh and Niki Powers dress as Star Wars characters Princess Leia and Boba Fett on the first day of Wizard World Austin Comic Con at the Austin Convention Center on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. (ERIKA RICH / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

May the Force of excellent lighting be with you.

Surprise: Austin gets a ‘Star Wars’ screening

Austin film critics will be able to see an early screening of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” after all. We reported on this site earlier that no screening would be held, and that information came from the studio’s publicist. But apparently the studio, Disney, has changed its mind.

The screening is not open to the public, but Disney’s move will allow critics to have reviews on opening day.

The movie is scheduled to open Dec. 18.

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Stay on Target by Rob Kaz

‘Star Wars’ not screening for critics in Austin

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The highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will not screen in advance for Austin critics, and presumably not for the vast majority of print critics nationwide. This means that opening-day reviews in print and online will be extremely limited.

It’s an unusual but not unexpected move for such a big-budget, high-profile project, now under Disney’s control after creator/director George Lucas sold the rights a few years ago.

But it probably won’t make any difference in terms of box office, at least not for the first week or so. Many theaters have sold out the first screenings of the film, which opens Dec. 18.

It does, however, raise questions about the quality of the film. It’s rare for movies not to screen in advance — especially if the studio has confidence in the film and expects good reviews.

But who knows what will happen with this new installment of “Star Wars”? One thing is for certain: Even if the late reviews aren’t glowing, the film looks like a blockbuster at the box office.

5 out of this world ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ toys from the new line

Co-anchors, George Stephanopoulos, left, and Paula Faris, right, look on as EvanTubeHD, a digital star from the Maker Studios network, unboxes the LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon and the Star Wars BB-8 App Enabled Droid from Sphero, on "Good Morning America" in New York, Sept. 3, 2015, as part of the epic global event marking the countdown to "Force Friday" when merchandise from Star Wars: The Force Awakens goes on sale. (Photo by Stuart Ramson/Invision for Disney Consumer Products/AP Images)
Co-anchors, George Stephanopoulos, left, and Paula Faris, right, look on as EvanTubeHD, a digital star from the Maker Studios network, unboxes the LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon and the Star Wars BB-8 App Enabled Droid from Sphero, on “Good Morning America” in New York, Sept. 3, 2015, as part of the epic global event marking the countdown to “Force Friday” when merchandise from Star Wars: The Force Awakens goes on sale. (Photo by Stuart Ramson/Invision for Disney Consumer Products/AP Images)

The only thing more hotly anticipated than the Dec. 18 release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is the release of all of the corresponding intergalactic toys.

The toys are being introduced through a series of unboxing events happening all over the world, with the first one taking place at 5:45 EST on Wednesday, Sept. 2 in Sydney, Australia. Since then, more “Star Wars” toys have been unveiled and unboxed in Hong Kong, Paris, New York and more. All of the fanfare is leading up to #ForceFriday, the day all of the toys will be available to the public.

The new range of toys has something for Star Wars fans big and small. Here are a few of the standouts:

• Customizable lightsabers. The initial trailer for “The Force Awakens” confused several fans with the debut of character Kylo Ren’s fiery three-pronged lightsaber.

For kids, the possibilities are about to become even more eccentric. From a glowing knuckle-duster to a dual-saber spear, the “Star Wars Bladebuilders” toys from Hasbro boast over 100 possible combinations. Lights and sounds add to the authenticity.

The sabers are priced at $49.99.

A scene from the new "Disney Infinity" game. (Photo: Disney)
A scene from the new “Disney Infinity 3.0: Star Wars” game. (Photo: Disney)

• Galactic games. Disney has collaborated with LucasArts to create “Disney Infinity 3.0: Star Wars,” an interactive, sand-box style video game that brings “Star Wars” toys to life. The game allows players to explore three different “Star Wars” time lines, including one based around “The Force Awakens” that features the characters Finn and Rey.

The game is available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and the Wii U and is priced at $64.99.

• “Star Wars” Lego sets. No toy unveiling would be complete without a Lego playset or two, and this time is no exception.

Lego has debuted seven different spacecraft sets inspired by the upcoming film, including the X-Wing fighter, the First Order Snowspeeder and the iconic Millennium Falcon.

The sets are priced from $79.99 to $149.99.

An image of Jakk's Pacific Star Wars: The Force Awakens Big Figs 31" stormtrooper. (Photo: JAKKS Pacific)
An image of Jakk’s Pacific Star Wars: The Force Awakens Big Figs 31″ stormtrooper. (Photo: JAKKS Pacific)

• Life-size stormtroopers. Ditch the security system, these huge figures can protect your home with the power of the Force, and look mighty intimidating while they’re doing it.

Toy maker Jakk’s Pacific has launched 48-inch-tall interactive figures of Kylo Ren and a stormtrooper that can sense motion and will spout sound effects and lines from the “Star Wars” films when approached.

For those who prefer something a little subtler, 31-inch-tall Kylo Ren and stormtrooper figures also available through Jakk’s Pacific.

The figures are priced from $34.99 to $99.99.

Promotional image of Sphero's BB-8 droid.
Promotional image of Sphero’s BB-8 droid.

• Your very own BB-8 droid. Perhaps the most-hyped toy, this spherical little bot seems aimed for an older set of Star Wars fans, although it is rated highly by puppies as well.

BB-8 is the droid of Oscar Isaac’s character Poe in the film.The rolling robot toy version, made by Sphero, can be operated through a smart phone app and a series of voice commands.

The only downsides to this fun little droid side-kick are the small battery – the toy requires three hours of charge time for one hour of play – and the price tag – $149.99.

You can watch the tiny droid in action below:

Luckily, Friday is just around the corner. Until then, you can tide yourself over by re-playing the 15-second teaser clip of “The Force Awakens” that was released on the “Star Wars” Instagram account last week, or start making plans for you and your trust BB-8 bot to visit Disney’s upcoming “Star Wars” themed lands.

Alamo to screen, discuss ‘Star Wars’ trailer

The Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar will hold a special panel discussion at 9 a.m. on Friday about the new teaser for “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens.”

After the screening of the 88-second teaser, Drafthouse honcho Tim League and a group of panelists to be named will discuss the teaser.

The Drafthouse says the plan is as follows: “We will watch it (the teaser), discuss it for two minutes, and repeat for an hour. That means we’ll be watching the trailer 17 times and discussing it 17 times with more and more fine granular detail each time.”

The event is free, but seats are limited. The first to get in will be a group of Alamo Victory members. And if other seats are available, the general public wil be allowed to attend. The panel will consist of four “Star Wars” experts, with one mystery slot to be filled by the biggest “Star Wars” fan in Texas. If you think you’re that person and want to attend, then you need to tell the Drafthouse via Twitter or Instagram, with one photo. Use the tags @drafthouse and #AlamoJedi to qualify.

You need to act fast, however. The winner will be announced at 5 p.m. today. The winner will also get to bring nine friends to a Drafthouse screening of the new “Star Wars” movie when it is released next year.

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