Hollywood is rolling out the red carpet for the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first film in the epic space saga for a decade - and fans are frantic.

The star-studded screening of the most anticipated film of the year on Monday will be followed by a global release on Wednesday. It will officially hit US cinemas on Friday.

"When we finished shooting, it felt like 'Oh, it's so long until it comes out - and now we're here,'" Daisy Ridley, who plays the scavenger Rey, told the AFP news agency as the clock ticked down.


Words and images: Take a look at a 'Star Wars' desert rave in Tunisia


The 23-year-old British actress, in her first big-screen role, is among several fresh faces joining the latest instalment of the sci-fi film series that has a mammoth worldwide following.

Others include fellow Brit John Boyega, who plays Finn, portrayed as a renegade stormtrooper in the trailer, as well as Oscar Isaac, who slips into the skin of pilot Poe Dameron.

 

Much to the delight of die-hard fans, veterans of the original blockbusters - Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher -  will once again play Han Solo and Princess Leia.


OPINION: Star Wars stereotypes - Not a force for good


Star Wars has attracted generations of loyal fans since the first film was released in 1977.

It turned Ford, Fisher and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) into overnight stars.

"You could say it's the themes, it's the Force, it's the lightsaber - there's just something in this that touches people, and I don't think you can summarise that," Ridley said.

The film is due to be shown in Los Angeles at the Dolby Theatre, the TCL Chinese Theatre and the El Capitan Theatre, where fans have been camping out for days to buy tickets. 

Fans camped outside Los Angeles cinemas to claim their spots in line for the release of Star Wars - The Force Awakens [Paul Buck/EPA]

Source: AFP