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‘A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away ...’

More than 20,000 “Star Wars” fans are expected to converge on downtown Los Angeles during the next few days to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary.In recognition of the May 25, 1977, opening, series creator George Lucas’ Lucasfilm production company and convention organizer Gen Con are presenting “Star Wars Celebration IV” at the Los Angeles Convention Center, which will be open to t
/ Source: Hollywood Reporter

More than 20,000 “Star Wars” fans are expected to converge on downtown Los Angeles during the next few days to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary.

In recognition of the May 25, 1977, opening, series creator George Lucas’ Lucasfilm production company and convention organizer Gen Con are presenting “Star Wars Celebration IV” at the Los Angeles Convention Center, which will be open to the public Friday through Monday.

The event — which kicked off Wednesday with a marathon screening of all six films — includes live entertainment, cast-member appearances, film and video presentations and an exhibit of movie props and costumes.

Carrie Fisher (a.k.a. Princess Leia) will attend, but Lucas is out of the country, said Tom Warner, senior director of marketing at Lucasfilm.

Warner said the event will include a preview of a new video game, “The Force Unleashed,” which will be available on multiple game platforms in early 2008. In the game, the player takes on the role of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice.

“Star Wars” marked a milestone in visual effects. Its makers pioneered groundbreaking visual effects techniques, and the work inspired many of today’s VFX talent. Among the weekend program events is a Saturday session featuring the five visual effects supervisors from the 1977 classic through 2005’s “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.” Scheduled to appear are Richard Edlund, John Knoll, Dennis Muren, Ken Ralston and Phil Tippett.

Edlund, who won Oscars for his work on all three films in the first trilogy, said: “‘Star Wars’ woke up a sleeping giant. ... Since ‘Star Wars,’ its audience salivates for new effects movies.”

Knoll, VFX supervisor on the more recent trilogy (as well as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series), said he was in high school when the first “Star Wars” debuted. “Suddenly, there were new exciting things happening in the (VFX) field,” he said, adding that he was then invited to tour Lucas’ operation. “It was a life-changing experience. It helped me to decide that I wanted to do this for a living.”