Fans celebrate 'Star Wars Day' as new release nears

From building Lego spaceships to dressing up as Jedi Knights, fans around the world have celebrated Star Wars Day ahead of the release of the much-anticipated next instalment of the galactic space fantasy franchise.

In Australia, "Star Wars" enthusiasts built a five-metre wide replica of Han Solo's Millennium Falcon ship, made from around 250,000 Lego bricks.

American Lego master builders, father and son Dan and Chris Steininger, flew in especially for the occasion to lead the construction ahead of May 4, which has become the unofficial "Star Wars" day.

Events were also held in Milan and Tokyo, where fans paraded as characters from one of the most popular movie franchises of all time, shouting "May the Fourth be with you", a play on the film's catch phrase "May the force be with you".

Vanity Fair magazine unveiled the cover of its June issue, which features a picture spread by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz of the upcoming film "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens".

Fans got a glimpse of the movie, which hits cinema screens in December, in a trailer released last month showing Harrison Ford reprising his famed role as Han Solo.

The magazine also released a video of the photo shoot that shows Leibovitz snapping away on set as actors such as Adam Driver and Lupita Nyong'o get into character.

Walt Disney Co, which bought "Star Wars" producer Lucasfilm in 2012, said on Sunday the film's merchandise will hit stores in September.