LOS ANGELES (AP) — Stormtrooper mannequins lined the red carpet as "Star Wars" made its highly-anticipated return to Hollywood Monday after a decade-long absence from the big screen.
A giant opaque tent shrouded the red carpet — lined with the mannequins and neon lights that resembled giant lightsabers — and workers put the finishing touches on the setup hours before the film's first showings to a select group of Hollywood elite.
Disney took over a half-mile section of Hollywood Boulevard for the premiere for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," complete with fan bleachers and spotlights everywhere. The film will screen at three theaters, allowing more than 5,000 invited guests the chance to see the characters Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo reunite for the first time on the big screen since 1983's "Return of the Jedi."
Security around the site was high, with metal detectors screening pedestrians and police dogs checking the area.
Access to journalists covering the premiere restricted until just before the event began. Once they were allowed in the giant, four-block tent, they were treated to displays of some of the film's newest characters, including the evil Captain Phasma and the droid BB-8.
Many of Hollywod's top stars will join hundreds of costumed fans at what could be the largest Hollywood premiere ever. One of the participating theaters — the iconic TCL Chinese — hosted the premiere of the original "Star Wars" in 1977.
Los Angeles Police say extra vehicle patrols and more officers on foot are being assigned to the area.
Monday's premiere is the culmination of years of planning, filming and marketing "Star Wars" for a new generation.
Although "The Force Awakens" reunites the cast of the original trilogy for the first time since "Return of the Jedi," the new film is expected to introduce a new crop of characters who can sustain the franchise for years to come.
"The Force Awakens" opens to the public Friday and some expect the film to break box office records, as it has already with presale tickets.
The last live-action "Star Wars" film was 2005's "Revenge of the Sith," which capped a prequel trilogy focusing on the story of how Skywalker's father became villain Darth Vader.
AP Entertainment Writer Marcela Isaza contributed to this report.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.