Los Angeles (AFP) - The final film in the epic "Star Wars" trilogy of trilogies brought Hollywood to a standstill, as a galaxy of VIPs from the space saga that began four decades ago descended on a glittering world premiere.
Veterans Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) arrived Monday to bid farewell to the movies that launched their careers in style at a futuristic hangar filled with life-size X-wing starfighters in Los Angeles.
They were joined by a who's who of Hollywood, with special guests from Steven Spielberg to Spike Lee.
"Tonight, looking at this whole mise-en-scene is quite bewildering," Anthony Daniels, who has played droid C-3PO in every main "Star Wars" film, told AFP.
"In fact, it's such a big experience that I'm not sure I can quite cope with it. But I do feel proud to be here and proud to be part of it."
"The Rise of Skywalker" officially concludes the so-called "Skywalker saga" of films begun by George Lucas in 1977 -- a fact Disney's all-conquering publicity machine has used to ramp up hype on an intergalactic scale.
Analysts predict a stellar $200-$225 million at domestic box offices this weekend, which would put the film among the biggest openings in movie history.
Disney chief Bob Iger told AFP that fans would get "some kind of closure, some sense of satisfaction" for their favorite characters.
"Star Wars is probably the most important, most valuable mythology of our time, of the modern time," he said.
"If you just consider the global base of fans that have worshipped this storytelling since 1977, over 40 years... tonight being a culmination of nine films is an incredibly important night."
- 'The final word' -
Heading the glitzy premiere were the new film's young stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac.
Plot details have been kept tightly under wraps. But director JJ Abrams has said the trio's characters -- Rey, Finn and Poe -- will be reunited on-screen, after scattering for 2017's "The Last Jedi", which divided fans.
While Disney has embargoed full reviews until Wednesday, social media reaction from those inside the three Hollywood theaters blocked out for Monday night's event was broadly positive.