- “There has been an awakening...have you felt it? The Dark Side...and the Light.”
- ―Supreme Leader Snoke
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (also known as Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens) is an American science fiction/space opera film that was released on December 18, 2015. It is the seventh installment in the long-running Star Wars franchise and the first installment in the long-awaited sequel trilogy. It is also the first Star Wars theatrical film to have Disney's involvement.
Disney began production on the film after they acquired Lucasfilm on October 30, 2012, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy served as executive producer of the film, and George Lucas acted as a creative consultant for the films. As of January 25, 2013, J. J. Abrams directed and produced the film, while Michael Arndt wrote the screenplay. Episode VII is the first theatrical live-action Star Wars movie, since Revenge of the Sith, released ten years earlier. it was released to critical acclaim, making $2.068 billion (the first film not directed by James Cameron, the first Disney film and the first film not distributed by 20th Century Fox to make over $2 billion) becoming the highest grossing Star Wars film not adjusted for inflation (adjusted it is the second highest) and the highest grossing film of 2015 and of all time in North America. It also is the most successful sequel of all time adjusted for inflation. Adjusted for inflation it is the second highest grossing Disney film behind Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It is also the third highest grossing film of all time worldwide (behind Avatar and Titanic).
As the Resistance and First Order race to find the location of the last Jedi Luke Skywalker, who has mysteriously disappeared, Rey, a desert scavenger, and Finn, a renegade stormtrooper, are unwittingly thrown in the middle of the conflict upon meeting BB-8, a droid with a piece of a map to Luke's location. To defeat the villainous First Order, one of them must discover the dormant Force within, and awaken it.
Three decades after the second Death Star's destruction, Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi Master, has mysteriously vanished. Led by Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren, the infamous First Order, a military junta of the Galactic Empire, and Knights of Ren, successor to the Sith Order, is scouring the galaxy for Luke, having already destroyed the New Jedi Order. The Resistance, an offshoot of the New Republic led by General Leia Organa, is doing the same. Poe Dameron, the Resistance's best pilot, is sent by Leia to retrieve a map to Luke's location from a village on the planet Jakku, but Stormtroopers led by Captain Phasma and the Dark Jedi Kylo Ren invade the city, during which time Poe gives the map to his droid, BB-8, and orders him to leave. Just then, Kylo Ren captures Poe, kills Lor San Tekka, and wipe out the village. Poe's droid, BB-8, escapes with the map, eventually finding its way to a junkyard settlement, and befriending the scavenger Rey.
As Ren uses the Force on Poe to learn about BB-8, FN-2187, a Stormtrooper repulsed by the First Order's brutality, decides to escape and frees Poe. Their stolen TIE fighter crashes on Jakku and the Stormtrooper, dubbed "Finn", appears to be the only survivor. After failing to find Poe, he makes his way to the nearest settlement and, upon encountering Rey and BB-8, claims to be part of the Resistance. The First Order tracks Finn to the settlement and launches an airstrike, forcing Rey, Finn, and BB-8 to steal a run-down ship - unaware it's the Millennium Falcon - after their escape vessel is destroyed by a TIE fighter. Although they are pursued by TIE fighters, they are able to overcome them and flee the planet.
The Falcon is found by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who explain that Luke disappeared after his apprentice turned to the dark side and became Kylo Ren. At Starkiller Base, a planet converted into a superweapon capable of destroying whole star systems, Kylo is told by the First Order's Supreme Leader Snoke that to overcome the light side, he must kill his father, Han. On the planet Takodana, the Falcon crew meet Maz Kanata, who can help BB-8 reach the Resistance, but Finn decides he'd rather keep running. Rey is drawn by the Force to a storeroom where Maz is keeping Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber, where she sees a haunting vision of the Knights of Ren. As a result, she chooses to flee rather than take up the weapon.
The First Order descends on Takodana, tipped off to BB-8's presence, as Starkiller Base destroys the Republic capital. Han, Chewbacca, and Finn battle the First Order with help from a squadron of Resistance X-wings led by Poe, who survived the crash of Jakku. However, Rey is captured by Kylo and taken to Starkiller Base. Kylo probes Rey in an attempt to steal the map from her mind, but she is able to resist him. After Kylo leaves, Rey uses the Force to play a mind trick on a stormtrooper and escape her cell, with effort. Han is reunited with Leia when he, Chewbacca and Finn are brought to the Resistance base on D'Oar, where the droid R2-D2 has been dormant since Luke's disappearance.
Starkiller Base prepares to fire on D'Oar, so the Resistance devises a plan to sneak onto the surface and lower the planetary shields so their fighters can attack the superweapon's weak point. Using the Falcon, Han, Chewbacca and Finn infiltrate the base, lower the shields and reunite with Rey, but Poe's X-wing squadron can't penetrate the weapon. Thinking quickly, Han and Chewbacca instead use explosives to create an opening. Seeing their progress, Kylo attempts to stop them and is then confronted by Han, who tries to convince his son to abandon the dark side, addressing him as "Ben", his birth name. Though conflicted, Kylo ultimately remains on the dark side and kills Han, stabbing him and pushing him off a bridge. Enraged, Chewbacca shoots Kylo in the side, leaving him severely weakened. Meanwhile, Poe destroys the weapon, triggering a chain reaction that will destroy Starkiller Base.
Meanwhile, the injured Kylo chases Finn and Rey onto the surface; Finn tries to fight him using Anakin's old lightsaber, but Kylo uses the Force to enhance his attack and grievously wound his opponent, but not before getting a shoulder wound. Seeing her friend's predicament, Rey calls upon the Force, takes up the lightsaber and engages Kylo. Although Kylo initially has the upper hand, Rey eventually manages to overpower and disarm him, leaving him with a gruesome facial scar. However, before she can attempt to deliver a killing strike, the Dark Jedi is separated from her by a fissure and she is forced to flee. Rey, Finn, and Chewbacca evacuate on the Falcon as the planet is destroyed, and while the Resistance celebrates their victory, Leia, Chewbacca, and Rey mourn the loss of Han. R2-D2 awakens and, using BB-8's map, reveals Luke's location. Rey, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 follow the map to a world called Ahch-To that Rey recognizes from her dreams, and when they arrive, Rey is the first to find Luke. She ascends a hill Luke is on and presents him with his old lightsaber.
David Acord, Dee Bradley Baker, Verona Blue, Eugene Byrd, David W. Collins, Patrick Correll, Jonathan Dixon, Mark Dodson, Michael Donovan, Terri Douglas, TJ Falls, Dave Filoni, Amanda Foreman, Karen Huie, Tom Kane, Matt Lanter, Devon Libran, Elle Newlands, Michelle Rejwan, Meredith Salenger, Christopher Scarabosio, Kat Sheridan, Christian Simpson, Kevin Smith, Robert Stambler, Catherine Taber, Fred Tatasciore, James Arnold Taylor, Emily Towers, Samuel Witwer, and Matthew Wood are all credited as additional voices.
Chloë Grace Moretz, Saoirse Ronan, Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Alex Pettyfer, Sullivan Stapleton, Katie Jarvis, Jack O'Connell, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Gary Oldman were said to have auditioned for a role, but none of these people are seen in the final film.
- “It's an original story.”
- ―A Lucasfilm source, speaking about the plot for Star Wars Episode VII
Disney purchases Lucasfilm
On October 30, 2012, The Walt Disney Company announced that it had purchased Lucasfilm Ltd., the production company behind the creation of the Star Wars franchise, from its owner, Star Wars creator George Lucas, for $4.05 billion. The acquisition came in the wake of Lucas's announced retirement on May 31, and the subsequent June 1 announcement that veteran film producer Kathleen Kennedy was succeeding Lucas as Lucasfilm's Co-Chair.
As part of the merger, Disney revealed that it planned to release a new sequel trilogy of films, beginning in 2015, that would include the long-awaited Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. Lucas will remain involved as a creative consultant, with Kennedy serving as executive producer.
Star Wars Episode VII has already been in development for several months as of the Disney–Lucasfilm merger. Lucas has written the story treatments for each of the three upcoming films. According to Kennedy, the development team is currently in the process of sitting down with writers to discuss story ideas. According to a Lucasfilm source, the basis for Star Wars Episode VII will be an original story, rather than taking inspiration from previous Expanded Universe content, such as author Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy of novels, which chronologically follows the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in the Star Wars canon.
Assembling the team
- “I've consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller. He's an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn't be in better hands.”
- ―George Lucas, on J.J. Abrams
Lucasfilm confirmed on November 9 that pre-production has begun on Star Wars Episode VII, and that screenwriter Michael Arndt will write the script for the film. News outlets first reported Arndt's involvement on November 8, announcing that, according to insiders, Arndt has already turned in a forty-to-fifty-page story treatment that will reportedly bring the Skywalker family saga to a close in a new trilogy.
Reports first announced on January 24, 2013 that J.J. Abrams, known for his work on the television series Lost and the most recent entries in the Star Trek film series, will direct Star Wars Episode VII. StarWars.com confirmed the reports the following day.
According to reports, Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg will co-produce all three films of the upcoming sequel trilogy. Kasdan and Kinberg will also reportedly share writing responsibilities for both Star Wars Episodes VIII and IX, although the exact division of roles has yet to be determined. Kasdan originally wrote the screenplays for both Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. StarWars.com confirmed Kasdan's and Kinberg's involvement as project consultants for Star Wars Episode VII on January 25.
Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Ewan McGregor, Billy Dee Williams, and Samuel L. Jackson have all been reported to be interested in returning for the new films, though most actors have yet to be confirmed by Lucasfilm sources.
During a concert with the Young Musician's Foundation Debut Orchestra on February 9, composer John Williams stated that he was hoping to get the chance to write the musical scores for the entire new trilogy. Abrams made further statements on this at a Star Trek Into Darkness conference on April 29, stating, "Again, for Star Wars, it’s very early days, but I believe that, going forward, John Williams will be doing that film because he was there long before I was."
Mark Hamill commented about the sequels in late February 2013 stating that "they are talking to us" and he is scheduled to meet with writer Michael Arndt and Kathleen Kennedy. Hamill stated that so far nobody has signed a contract though there appears to be interest in the entire cast. Hamill went on to say that George Lucas would like to get Peter Mayhew and Anthony Daniels back for the new films as well. Mark Hamill feels that he will return to be "an Obi-Wan type role."
In March 2013, Fisher confirmed she will return as Princess Leia. A day later Lucas confirmed that Hamill, Ford, and Fisher were in the final stages of negotiations and that all three were in discussions to return prior to the Disney sale. Lucas stated "Maybe I'm not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them. I won't say whether the negotiations were successful or not".
In May 2013, it was revealed that production of Episode VII would take place in the United Kingdom. All of the six other movies of the Star Wars franchise had been partly produced in the U.K., notably in the Elstree, Shepperton, Leavesden, Ealing, and Pinewood studios.
Michael Kaplan, who designed the costumes for Abrams' Star Trek films has also signed on to costume Episode VII. Daniel Mindel, Abrams's director of photography, will also return to collaborate with the director, meaning the series will return to shooting on 35mm film.
On October 24, 2013, Arndt was replaced as screenwriter by the team of Kasdan and Abrams. On November 7, 2013, Lucasfilm announced that the film would be released on December 18, 2015. On November 9, 2013, it was announced that the Fox fanfare will not be in the opening of Star Wars Episode VII.
At a Television Critics Association press tour on January 19, 2014, Abrams announced that the script for Episode VII had been finished and that the movie was going "full steam ahead" and in "deep pre-production." He also confirmed rumors of him talking with Breaking Bad actor Jesse Plemons.
The following day, on January 20, 2014, Carrie Fisher gave an interview to TV Guide and mentioned that she, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill would all be reporting to work in March or April. As with previous information by Fisher, this has yet to be verified by Lucasfilm.
During an interview promoting the 2014 remake of RoboCop, Gary Oldman confirmed with Sky Movies—when asked if Star Wars was "perhaps next" and if he "had any discussions [with J.J. Abrams' team] along those lines"—that he was indeed approached for a role in the upcoming film. His response was, "They’ve called," and affirmed that it was as far as he could say on the matter. Oldman responded carefully, stumbling over his words as he avoided any disclosure beyond stating an interest in him for a role:
When musing on what such involvement would mean for his career, Oldman commented, "I mean, Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter, and Batman, and Star Wars? Bloody Hell, you know?" AMC Theaters Movie News Senior Editor, John Campea, has discussed—along with correspondents Dennis Tzeng and Lisa Darling—on the movie company's YouTube channel, the gravitas that Oldman could potentially bring to the Star Wars franchise. They remarked that the reservation with which he admitted to the approach by Lucasfilm for his involvement made the news more "serious" in tone with Oldman as a contender for a role in the film, rather than receiving a mere "stereotypical casting call."
- “I've learned to be very careful about Star Wars. If I say, 'There will be no skateboards in Star Wars'... that gets headlines.”
- ―Alan Horn, Disney Chairman
On March 17, 2014, StarWars.com announced that Episode VII would begin principal photography at Pinewood Studios in May 2014, and would be set approximately thirty years after the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. They also confirmed that the film will star a trio of young leading actors alongside "some very familiar faces." On April 5, 2014, it was revealed that filming on Star Wars Episode VII had already begun, with second unit work taking place in Iceland and Abu Dhabi.
On April 29, 2014, actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in Episode VII.
Director J.J. Abrams says, "We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud."
On November 6, 2014, it was announced the film's subtitle would be The Force Awakens. Though the official title for the film is strictly Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Episode VII will still be featured in the opening crawl.
On November 24, 2014, it was announced that the first teaser trailer will be presented in select theaters throughout North America during Thanksgiving weekend beginning Friday, November 28. The trailer was also released online the same day. Shortly after, actual trading cards showing character names from the teaser were released. On April 16, 2015, the second offical teaser trailer was released online.
On October 19, 2015, the official theatrical trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released online.
- The film would currently be the second highest-grossing film of all time worldwide (behind Avatar) if Titanic had never been re-released.
- Although Star Wars Episode VII is a brand-new chapter for audiences and moviegoers, the film - as well as the entire upcoming sequel trilogy (Episodes VII, VIII, and IX) - has been talked about amongst fans for over 30 years.
- J.J. Abrams is notable among sci-fi fans for producing, both, a Star Wars and Star Trek production (having helmed the 2009 Star Trek reboot as well as its sequels) considering the infamous long-standing rivalry between the franchises' respective fanbases.
- This is the second Star Wars film to get a PG-13 rating, the first was Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
- The typeface used for the The Force Awakens subtitle in the title card is highly akin to ITC Serif Gothic; a popular graphic font of the 1960s through the 1980s which was also used for the credits listing on the original 1977 poster of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
- While being the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga in terms of, both, theatrical release and internal chronology, The Force Awakens will actually be the eighth theatrically released Star Wars film after 2008's Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
- When Kylo Ren learns of Finn's betrayal and escape, he complains about the First Order lacking a clone army, which would be absolutely loyal. This is a reference to the Clone Army used by the Old Republic and later the Galactic Empire in Star Wars Episodes II and III and possibly IV.
- This is the first film in which Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi do not appear. However, Obi-Wan appeared in voice during Rey's vision, telling her that these were her first steps. Obi-Wan was voiced by Ewan McGregor, and vocal recordings of Alec Guinness. Darth Vader's destroyed helmet appeared in the film, in the posession of his grandson. Also, in original concept art, Anakin Skywalker was planned to return as a Force Ghost, but plans ultimately fell through.
- This is Erik Bauersfeld's final film, as he died in 2016.
- This is the first and only Star Wars film to be broadcast on STARZ and also the last film owned by Disney to be broadcast on that channel, due to new Disney films from The Finest Hours onwards streaming on Netflix.
- This is the first Lucasfilm film to be released since Disney acquired the studio in 2012. However, the Walt Disney Company is not credited nor is it in Rogue One.
- December 16, 2015 (France)
- December 17, 2015 (Brazil)
- December 17, 2015 (Portugal)
- January 9, 2016 (China)
- January 25, 2016 (Angola)
- DISNEY TO ACQUIRE LUCASFILM LTD. - The Walt Disney Company
- George Lucas Spent a Year Developing 'Star Wars: Episode 7' Before Lucasfilm Sale
- Star Wars: A look back at Year One of the Disney regime - EW.com
- The Raid 2's Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian join Star Wars 7
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