Star Wars 'coming home' says George Lucas at London premiere
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."
CAN YOU TAKE YOUR UNDER 10'S TO SEE STAR WARS?
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."
Analysis by Colin Paterson, entertainment reporter
When I saw the eye gouging and head drilling scenes in the latest Bond film Spectre, I immediately thought about how the 12A certificate meant children of any age could see it if accompanied by an adult.
I asked the stars of the film about this and actress Monica Bellucci told me she would not let her own 11-year-old daughter see it, until she was older.
With the latest Star Wars movie, there was nothing I would be worried about my nieces (aged nine and ten) and nephew (aged seven) watching. I am actually keen for Lottie and Hannah to watch the film as I think Daisy Ridley's character Rey is one of the best female role models in a blockbuster for years.
The Force Awakens, more a case of two thumbs up, than two thumbs in eyes.
Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, said he initially had doubts about returning to the role.
"I never expected to go back in a million years," he said. "Why go back to what you've done before? But then I thought this was too extraordinary an experience to dismiss."
He described Abrams as "a brilliant filmmaker", adding: "He's an enormous film nerd - I say that with great affection because I am too."
Han Solo actor Harrison Ford's message to fans was: "I hope they enjoy the movie. It's a worthy effort. I'm very proud of it."
Speaking on the red carpet, he said: "I'm glad people are interested. It becomes a part of people's lives and I really appreciate that they have such an intense, emotional interest in these films. It means a lot to me."
Asked by red carpet host Alex Zane about handing the Star Wars baton to JJ Abrams, George Lucas quipped: "I felt that I had to pass it on before I passed on."
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released in the UK and Ireland on 17 December and 18 December in US.
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