The year's most eagerly awaited film — possibly the most-anticipated film of all time — Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, will have its regional premiere in Abu Dhabi on December 16, the day before it opens in local cinemas and less than 48 hours after its world premiere in Los Angeles on December 14.
The invite-only gala screening will be at Emirates Palace, with the time yet to be confirmed. Organisers have also yet to reveal what stars and celebrity guests will attend the exclusive event, though such a high profile premiere is likely to attract regional and international stars.
A spokesman for local production partner twofour54 also promised the intriguing prospect of “an exclusive experience for the Abu Dhabi event” – but would not elaborate.
Episode VII, part of which was filmed in Abu Dhabi last year, is one of the most heavily hyped cinema events in recent years.
Director J J Abrams has successfully reunited all of the main cast from George Lucas’ 1977 original, including the trio of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher (who play Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia Organa). They are joined by newcomers including Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, who play new heroes Rey and Finn, plus Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron and Adam Driver as the villain, Kylo Ren.
There had been initial hopes that Abu Dhabi might serve as the location for the film’s world premiere, fuelled by the mention of a December 15 release in the UAE on online movie encyclopaedia IMDB.com, but this date was soon deleted.
"Having Star Wars: The Force Awakens screen in Abu Dhabi prior to its general release is a real validation for how successful the filming was while the production was here," says Noura Al Kaabi, twofour54's chief executive.
“To date, all of the trailers and TV spots for the film have included scenes from Abu Dhabi, which have generated unprecedented excitement around the globe.
“We are very proud of our achievements and excited for audiences around the world to experience Abu Dhabi on the big screen”.
Abu Dhabi provides the landscape for the planet Jakku, “a frontier desert planet in a remote section of the Outer Rim Territories”, according to StarWars.com.
With assistance from twofour54 and the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, filming for the movie took place in the Emirate in May last year, during which 650 crew members worked at two locations.
The Force Awakens, is the seventh instalment in the Star Wars franchise and is expected to be one of the most successful films of all time. It is already the most heavily pre-booked film in US history, earning more US$50million (Dh184m) in pre-release ticket sales in North America alone, with more than two weeks still to go before over two weeks before its release there on December 18.
The Abu Dhabi premiere will be a red-carpet, invitation-only event brought to the capital by twofour54 in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and The Walt Disney Company.
Don't miss our exclusive interviews with The Force Awakens stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Gwendoline Christie, in which they talk about the new film and the experience of filming in the Abu Dhabi desert. Read it in The National's Arts&Life section and online on December 3.