By: Dominic Jones
Back in late October/early November the Star Wars fan community rallied together around the #ForceForDaniel campaign, asking Lucasfilm and director JJ Abrams to allow Daniel Fleetwood, a terminally ill Star Wars fan, the opportunity to see The Force Awakens before he passed. Daniel's request was granted and he saw a rough cut of the film on on November 5th, 2015, before succumbing to his illness a few days later.
As it turns out, Daniel was not the only one. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Abrams revealed that the film was quietly shown to dozens of terminally ill Star Wars fans before it's release in theatres. Abrams said,
"You know, there are a lot of examples of passionate and excitable people but the most, I think, profound experience was that in the time before the movie came out — about a month before — we had a couple people go around to those fans who were not going to survive because of terminal illness until the movie came out. The movie was screened probably two dozen or so times to various people who, tragically, were struck with illness that would prevent them from seeing the movie otherwise."
Abrams also revealed that he would call up the fans before and after their screening, saying,
"I would speak with these people before and after. Sometimes they were adults and other times they were children and it was always… it was the most profound thing to be reminded in such a clear and wonderful and heartbreaking way how important this world was that George Lucas created, what it meant to these people."
The majority of the experiences have been kept secret because, as Abrams puts it,
"We didn’t want it to turn into a publicity stunt. This was a quiet thing we were doing for people who will remain anonymous but it was you know… the exchanges and the conversations that we all had with these families and these people were really moving"
It's so nice to hear about the wonderful gestures Abrams and Lucasfilm made towards fans who wouldn't live long enough to see the film otherwise. Hopefully, this is something that is continued with Rogue One, Episode VIII, and all the future films.
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