Even though it was announced beforehand that director J.J. Abrams would not be bringing any new Star Wars: The Force Awakens footage to San Diego Comic-Con 2015 (a wise move likely designed to temper expectations), Star Wars fans had ample reason to be excited about the franchise’s presence at this year’s event. In addition to confirmation that Force Awakens trailer #3 arrives this fall, we also received a number of fun surprises at the Lucasfilm Hall H panel, including a behind-the-scenes reel that confirmed longtime Abrams collaborator Simon Pegg is part of the film’s cast.

Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan joined the film’s cast – including returning stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford as well as new additions Daisey Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson and Gwendoline Christie – onstage for the main presentation, moderated by Chris Hardwicke. Immediately following that panel, the crowd of more than 6,000 fans was invited to attend a surprise concert where the San Diego Symphony performed pieces from John Williams’ unforgettable Star Wars music at the Embarcadero Marina Park South.

Although some fans may still wish that the Star Wars presentation was loaded with more news items (we did at least officially learn the identities of the film’s villains), it’s hard to complain with the experience that Abrams and his team put together for hardcore fans that journeyed to San Diego Comic-Con. Assembling such a massive cast is in and of itself an accomplishment, and the fact that Lucasfilm orchestrated a surprise concert designed to celebrate the strong relationship the Star Wars franchise continues to have with its fans just takes its presence at SDCC 2015 a step further.

Morover, despite the lack of new footage, the Star Wars presentation underscores just how careful Abrams and the rest of the creative team are being in doing right by the franchise. After the prequel trilogy shook the faith that some longtime fans have in the Star Wars brand, events such as this year’s Comic-Con are opportunities to eradicate any lingering doubts that The Force Awakens will fail to live up to the hype.

Because only a small fraction of the massive Star Wars fanbase was able to attend San Diego Comic-Con this year, Lucasfilm has released an extensive collection of photos chronicling the panel as well as the subsequent concert, which you can see below.

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Chris Hardwick, Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan


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J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan


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John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac


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Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford


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Chris Hardwick, Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan


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Chris Hardwick, Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford


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Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson and Gwendoline Christie


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Daisy Ridley


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Domhnall Gleeson


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Gwendoline Christie


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Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford


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Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie and Adam Driver


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J.J. Abrams


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Mark Hamill


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Harrison Ford


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Peter Mayhew


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Oscar Isaac


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John Boyega


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Adam Driver


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Chris Hardwick, Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford


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J.J. Abrams


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Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and fans


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Adam Driver


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Gwendoline Christie


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Domhnall Gleeson


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501st Legion member Kevin Doyle and the audience


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J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy


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Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega


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501st Legion member Kevin Doyle


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The audience of more than 6,000 fans walked to a surprise “Star Wars” Fan Concert.


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Walt Disney Studios President Alan Bergman, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn


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Kathleen Kennedy


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Fans at the surprise Star Wars concert


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Musicians and fans


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Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford


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Fireworks during the surprise fan concert


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501st Legion member Kevin Doyle and the audience of more than 6000 fans walked to a surprise `Star Wars` Fan Concert performed by the San Diego Symphony, featuring the classic “Star Wars” music of composer John Williams, at the Embarcadero Marina Park South on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Kevin Doyle


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Gwendoline Christie and Daisy Ridley


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Domhnall Gleeson and Harrison Ford


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Adam Driver


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Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and J.J. Abrams


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Oscar Isaac


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Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher


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John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac


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Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill


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Carrie Fisher


 

NEXT: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Making-Of Featurette

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18, 2015, followed by Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26, 2017, and the Han Solo anthology film on May 25, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX does not have an official release date yet.

Source: Lucasfilm