WINSTON-SALEM—The moment “Star Wars” fans have been waiting for is finally coming later this week, as "The Force Awakens" debuts.

A North Carolina professor close to George Lucas says this film is different than any other in the saga.

UNC-School of the Arts Professor Dale Pollock had always been a Lucas fan, but never expected to develop a passion for “Star Wars.”

“When you saw it, you couldn't help but fall in love with it,” Pollock said. “Its energy, its spirit, the sort of amazing stuff he did with space."

He was hooked.

In 1999, he published "Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas."

"Thanks to my friendship with Steven Spielberg, we were able to persuade George to cooperate with an unauthorized biography,” Pollock said. “He's never done it since."

Pollock says the seventh chapter in the saga, “The Force Awakens," may not be exactly what Lucas envisioned.

"When I was doing my research for my book, George shared with me his outlines for a total of 12 'Star Wars' films,” Pollock said. “My understanding is that all of those outlines have been abandoned by Disney when they paid $4.5 billion for the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. My understanding is that they've gone in a completely new direction. J.J. Abrams wanted to take the story in a new way. This is the first film not determined by George Lucas, and I think a lot of people are curious as to what that's going to mean."

While Pollock hasn't seen the movie yet, he says he fans won't be disappointed, based on trailers he’s seen.

"We have heard assurances that there are no new Jar Jar Binks characters, or anything like him, and I think people will be curious about that,” Pollock said. “It just looks exciting and fun—and a new chapter, which is exactly what it is."

"The Force Awakens" hits theaters this Thursday, Dec. 18, with special showings Wednesday night.