Watch the 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' trailer here

The first glimpse of JJ Abrams' first "Star Wars" sequel has arrived, featuring Stormtroopers, the Millennium Falcon -- and one badass lightsaber.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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May the trailer be with you! A year ahead of its cinema release, we've had our first glimpse of whatever happened to the denizens of a galaxy far, far away in the first trailer for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens".

"There has been an awakening... Have you felt it?" opens the trailer, which gives us a glimpse of updated Imperial Stormtroopers, cutesy droids and X-Wing fighters. There's no sign of the old familiar faces Luke, Leia, and Han, but there is the dizzying return of the Millennium Falcon -- and a moment harking back to that big Darth Maul reveal, which had everyone in the CNET office going, "Whoooaaah!"

The trailer debuts online on Apple's iTunes Trailers site, although high demand means early hiccups. It will also be shown on the big screen in 30 theatres run by Regal, AMC, Cinemark and a few other cinema chains in the US and Canada.

Anticipation is at fever pitch, suggesting the new trailer will be even more of a galactic-sized hit than the trailer for "The Phantom Menace", which broke download records and made Internet history in 1998.

Written and directed by JJ Abrams, "Episode VII: The Force Awakens" picks up after the events of the first "Star Wars" trilogy. Original series stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are back in the roles that made them famous, joined by a cast of young whippersnappers including Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Adam Driver and Domhnall Gleeson.

Key moments from 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' trailer (pictures)

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Other familiar faces -- well, not that you ever see their faces -- include Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Kenny Baker as R2-D2.

The forthcoming film will be the first of a new trilogy following the original three films, which ran from 1977 to 1983, and the trio of prequels released between 1999 and 2005. The new films come after Disney's acquisition of the Star Wars franchise for $4 billion in 2012, which will also lead to a series of spin-off movies based on individual characters. The first of those spin-offs will be helmed by British director Gareth Edwards, director of 2014's "Godzilla".

"Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" will be in theatres in December 2015.