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New ‘Star Wars’ movie takes Hollywood by storm

HOLLYWOOD — Hollywood became the center of the “Star Wars” universe Dec. 14 as a host of celebrities walked the red carpet for the world premiere of the film series’ much-anticipated latest chapter, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Hollywood Boulevard was closed for four blocks, with much of the street covered in an extended tent to provide cover for stars heading into one of the biggest premieres in recent memory — with the film being screened in three separate theaters: the Dolby, Chinese and El Capitan.

“It has never, ever attracted such interest from around the world,” actor Anthony Daniels, who has portrayed the droid C-3PO in all seven “Star Wars” films, told ABC7 on the red carpet. “People are probably watching live streams of this in Australia and Japan and so on. To walk into this [tent], which looks like an amazing part of our sets on the films — I feel totally at home. I should be totally cool about it, but I’m not,” Daniels said.

“I’m having a really amazing time. I can’t wait to see the film because I haven’t wanted to see more than I’m involved in. I want the surprise that you and everybody else will get for once.”

About two dozen die-hard fans braved rain, cold and wind for more than a week while they camped out outside the TCL Chinese Theatre for a chance to be one of the first to see the movie when it opens later this week.

The campers watched from a distance Dec. 14 while crowds of Hollywood insiders attended the premiere.

Hollywood Boulevard was closed for four blocks between Sycamore and Highland avenues — where the three theaters are located — until about midnight Dec. 14 for what could be the largest movie premiere in Hollywood history. Even the Academy Awards only require a one-block closure.

“Preparations are huge,” said Sgt. Robert Ward of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood Station, who told City News Service that he counted the number of campers.

The campers were staked out in front of the Chinese Theatre at Orange Drive and Hollywood Boulevard for days and their numbers have grown to 25, Ward said.

While they had to leave the four-block area for the premiere, the theater was expected to hold their gear until they could return after the premiere crowd leaves.

The LAPD’s Hollywood Station alone deployed 70 officers to secure the premiere, Ward said. Other divisions also provided officers, and studios employed private security for their VIPs.

The only disruption was a man trying to get into the premiere who was detained by the LAPD, NBC4 reported.

The crowds began lining up for the premiere on Dec. 5, a full 12 days before the event.

“The Force Awakens” opens in theaters Dec. 18.

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