Star Wars creator George Lucas has said that having the European premiere of new film The Force Awakens in London is like “coming home”.
“All of the premieres have always been in London,” Lucas said.
“It’s like coming home to an event we’ve done for the last 40 years, but this is the biggest by far.”
Star Wars fans, many of them waving lightsabers, turned out in force for the red carpet event in Leicester Square on Wednesday night.
They cheered as a procession of stormtroopers, led by Darth Vader, marched down the red carpet before the stars arrived.
Director JJ Abrams and cast members including Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver and Lupita Nyong’o had all flown in from Los Angeles, where the world premiere was held on Monday.
Famous droids C-3PO and R2-D2 and new robot BB-8 also made an appearance.
Abrams, who also co-wrote and co-produced, said it was “an enormous relief” that the world was finally going to see the seventh the film of the Star Wars franchise.
The first reviews of The Force Awakens, published earlier on Wednesday, hailed it as “a triumph” and “a classic”. Many UK newspapers awarded it five stars.
Abrams also praised the film’s new leads, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, saying they had “an alchemy” with the actors from the earlier films.
Ridley, who plays Rey, shouted to the crowd as she arrived : “May the Force be with you all!” She added: “I’m a girl from London – it’s good be home.”
The actress confirmed that she’d signed up for one more Stars Wars film – the as yet untitled Episode VIII, which is due out in 2017.
Londoner Boyega, who auditioned for seven months to play Finn, said: “For a guy from south-east Peckham, I think I did alright.”
The new film has been rated 12A by the British Board of Film Classification, this means that anyone under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
Its website has a slightly more detailed explanation for the rating which says “There are frequent scenes of moderate violence, including use of blasters and lightsabers, and dogfights between spaceships. Sight of blood and injury detail is limited and brief.”
It adds there are “Occasional scenes of moderate threat include characters being interrogated using ‘the Force’, which it is implied causes them pain, and characters being held at lightsaber-point.
“There is infrequent use of very mild bad language.”