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The first time any artist shows their work to someone is a nerve-wracking experience, and it’s no different for filmmakers. For those working inside a studio, there’s the added stress that if the execs don’t like what they see, they have the power to go in and make changes. This is the situation that J.J. Abrams found himself in as he showed Star Wars: The Force Awakens to the head honchos at Disney for the first time, and even though it appears to have gone well, he called the whole experience "horrifying."
The pressure surrounding The Force Awakens is immense, it’s only the most anticipated movie maybe since the prequels, and Abrams definitely feels that as both a fan and a director. He was on with Howard Stern’s Sirius XM (via THR) station earlier today and said:
We showed the first cut — which was still incomplete, a complete version of the movie but not the finished version — and we showed it to Alan Horn, Bob Iger, and Alan Bergman, the three people at Disney who sat with me in the theater, and we screened the movie. And it was horrifying. I'm nervous beyond words, I'm showing this movie that is so far from finished, there's not an effect in it ... It was a lot of me giving excuses before the screening.
That feeling of stress must be even worse when the product you’re showing isn’t even complete. Where the filmmaker at least has an idea of what effect goes where, and what the finished product will ultimately look like, that’s a lot of imagination to ask for from the audience. Not to mention that Iger, Horn, and Bergman are basically the three biggest players at Disney and they could probably just have Abrams disappeared without much fuss if they didn’t like what they saw.
Despite all of his fears and misgivings, it sounds like the screening ultimately went well and the powers that be liked what they saw. Abrams admitted that after everything was over that it was a "huge relief," though he did joke that maybe all of the kind things they said to him were just lip service and intended to make him feel good because they were just being nice. Though I imagine with the amount of time, money, effort, and anticipation Disney put into The Force Awakens, and Star Wars in general, if they didn’t like what they saw, it they would have no problem dropping the hammer.
The Force Awakens picks up 30 years after Return of the Jedi, and while we’ll get to catch up with some old friends, like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and more, we’ll also get to meet newcomers to that far, far away galaxy, like Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, and many others. And all of this goes down in just a few weeks when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18.