EDWARDSVILLE - On May 25, 1977, director George Lucas brought the most innovative science fiction adventure to audiences around the world with the release of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

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Thirty-eight years, two well-regarded sequels and three highly debated prequels later, the Star Wars universe has expanded once again in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The new film premieres at theaters across the country this Thursday, Dec. 17, and opens worldwide tomorrow.

Official poster of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney/Lucasfilm)Lucas handed off the directorial torch to Star Trek, Super 8 and Lost director J.J. Abrams. With the stylistic choices and large amount of teasers we have seen from the trailers, it seems like this directorial choice has been a good fit for the critically-acclaimed filmmaker.

In preparation for the film’s release tonight, AMC Theaters have clearly defined their costume policy to protect against disruption and any possible safety issues that could occur.

“AMC does not permit weapons or items that would make other guests feel uncomfortable or detract from the movie-going experience. Guests are welcome to come dressed in costume, but we do not permit masks or face paint,” an official statement from the company said. “In short, bring your lightsaber, turn it off during the movie, and leave the blaster and Darth Vader mask at home.”

For some, it feels like it’s been an eternity since they have seen Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker on the big screen. Fortunately for these filmgoers, that is exactly what they shall receive in this continuation of the Star Wars Universe. Star-crossed lovers Han and Leia themselves will be reunited on screen in their original roles by Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

Missing from the trailers and perhaps in sneaky marketing tactics is Mark Hamill or Luke Skywalker, which creates uncertainty that his character is not as pure as his past once revealed. Although he has been absent from the trailers and the thousands of Star Wars-licensed memorabilia, Hamill is listed within the official cast and should appear somewhere within the film.

Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew will revise their well known roles as C-3PO and the roaring wookie Chewbacca.

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Along with a large portion of the main cast of the original films, The Force Awakens is shooting some young actors and actresses into super stardom.

Having acted in a handful of parts over in UK, 23-year-old Daisy Ridley’s breakout role as Rey seems to be the role of a lifetime for the young actress.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (Disney/Lucasfilm)Attack the Block actor John Boyega, also 23, plays Finn, who we have seen in numerous trailers and teasers donning a stormtrooper uniform. He is also shown running alongside Rey in various action sequences. It is safe to assume that his character has some sort of change of heart and teams up with Rey to fight the Empire.

Poe Dameron, portrayed by Academy Award-nominated actor Oscar Isaac has been seen in trailers flying one of the Resistance’s X-Wing aircrafts, seeming to fill the shoes of the confident and determined Solo.

Girls and This Is Where I Leave You cast member Adam Driver seems to have joined the Dark Side in his portrayal as the new villain Kylo Ren. Although much of his character’s motivations and actions have been kept under wraps for most of the film’s promotion cycle. Viewers will finally be able to see what the Disney and Lucasfilm family have been hiding all along this weekend.

Dozens of other actors, including Game of Thrones actress Gwendoline Christie, 12 Years a Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o, Harry Potter’s Domhnall Gleeson, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes actor and special effects guru Andy Serkis will also appear in the new film.

Super fans who are seeking to see the film in IMAX 3D at AMC Showplace 12 in Edwardsville tonight are out of luck, unless they don’t mind waiting until 1:45 a.m. Luckily, at around Noon this Thursday, tickets were still available for the Real D 3D showings of the film at 7:30, 8:30, 9:00, 11:00, 11:30 p.m. and at midnight. Standard edition showings are completely sold out until 1:00 a.m. early Friday morning.

Viewers will have more luck purchasing tickets for any of the showings throughout Friday. At Noon on Thursday, the only shows that were sold out at Showplace 12 were the 7:30 p.m. IMAX 3D showing and 7:00 p.m. standard edition showing.

Chewbacca and Han Solo revealed in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens international trailer. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

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