Star Wars 7: George Lucas asks JJ Abrams about The Force Awakens – The Week UK

Star Wars creator George Lucas received a blunt answer when he asked Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens’s director JJ Abrams what will happen to Darth Vader’s grandchildren.

In a video interview for Vanity Fair, Abrams fielded a selection of pre-recorded questions from celebrities and journalists about the forthcoming film. One of the questions came from Lucas who asked the director to open up about the future of the sci-fi epic.

“JJ, what happened to Darth Vader’s grandchildren?” Lucas asked.

“Oh, George, this is great. You tell me man, you made all this sh** up.”

In reference to Star Wars’s least favourite ever character, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos asked “JJ, will you finally bring back Jar Jar Binks?”

Abrams replied: “We are developing a Netflix series called Binks and I.”

Asked by the Yahoo Global News anchor Katie Couric where he planned to be on the night the film premieres, Abrams replied “I will be asleep. I look forward to being done with the movie, so I can pass out.”

Later in the interview Jared Leto asked why he wasn’t cast as Chewbacca “given my ability to transform”. He then added, jokingly, “And not only can I grow hair I can grow hair all over my body.”

Abrams replied: “Sorry, he was already cast.”

The journalist and web entrepreneur Shane Smith asked: “What the hell happens between Luke and Darth Vader? Because that’s where it should all start. Is he dead or is he alive?”

“They already made that movie,” Abrams replied. “You should watch the earlier films, they exist.”

Finally, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Gurley asked: “Have you ever watched Mark Hammill’s movie Car Wash from beginning to end?”

Abrams laughed and replied: “No but tonight. Tonight’s the night.”

Star Wars 7: are these The Force Awakens’ biggest secrets?

02 November

The Mail on Sunday claims to have compiled a ‘definitive guide’ to Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ biggest secrets, including the focus of the entire plot.

Warning: possible spoilers ahead

The Sunday tabloid claims to have pulled together a list of the film’s key revelations with the assistance of “well-placed sources on the Star Wars 7 production set”. 

BB-8 is female

One titbit that may be of interest is that BB-8, the successor to the original trilogy’s cheeky droid R2-D2, is a female – “and she plays a pivotal role.”

According to one of the paper’s sources “There’s never been a strong female robot in any Star Wars film, but [director JJ Abrams] was determined to make BB-8 cute and strong – and female.”

“They want to appeal to girls as much boys, who have traditionally been the fan base. She’s going to be one of the breakout hits of the film,” the source said.

What’s it all about?

More interesting to most fans will be the confirmation that the focus of the film will be on the battle for Luke Skywalker’s lost blue lightsaber.

In the beginning of the movie “pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) recovers the weapon and sends it on a mission with new droid BB-8.”

“Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) joins scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and BB-8, sheltering on board the Millennium Falcon, where they befriend Han Solo (Harrison Ford). They end up in the castle of alien pirate Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) but Sith Lord Uber (Andy Serkis) orders killer Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to destroy them.”

Eventually, the paper says, Princess Leia arrives with C-3PO to save the day, reuniting with Han Solo after years apart and leading the new group of allies back to the Resistance Base.

According to the paper’s sources “the finale is truly epic… and includes the traumatic death of ‘a major, major character’.”

Star Wars 7: ‘very good’ reason for Luke Skywalker’s absence

30 October

The latest mystery to grip Star Wars fans as they await The Force Awakens is why Luke Skywalker has not been featured in any of the trailers to date.

Aside from a very brief shot in the second trailer where a robot hand, presumed to be Luke’s, reaches out to R2-D2, the key character is nowhere to be seen. Neither does he appear on a recent poster featuring the main cast members.

During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, Han Solo actor Harrison Ford joked that there just “wasn’t room” for Luke, before adding: “No, there’s a very good reason. I can’t tell you.”

Force Awakens director JJ Abrams has also said that Luke’s absence from the trailers is “no accident”. Asked why he does not appear in them, Abrams added: “I can’t wait for you to find out the answer.”

While some fans fear Luke will not appear in the film itself, the theory appears to carry little weight. Actor Mark Hamill definitely spent time on the set of the movie and his name is listed in the credits at the bottom of the promotional poster.

Therefore, movie buffs have been discussing other possible theories over his omission from promos. Cinema Blend wonders if something has happened to significantly alter the character’s appearance, and that the film-makers are not ready to reveal this.

A related theory is that he has fallen to the dark side in The Force Awakens, and that his visual appearance would give the game away. “We hope it’s true,” says the New Daily.

Fans have reacted with puzzlement and some anger on Twitter. One wrote: “WTF! I bet he dies early in the film and Finn continues his legacy like Ren is for Vader.”

Others have suggested that Abrams might just be teasing fans to intensify the suspense.

It is clear the cast is under strict instructions to remain tight-lipped. Pressed to reveal more details about the film, Ford told Jimmy Kimmel: “Why would you want to say anything? I want the audience to experience it. I don’t want them to hear about it.”

He did, however, offer his view on how the film might be received: “I can tell you this. It’s really, really good. Trust me, it’s really good. The new cast… Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac are phenomenal. JJ has made an incredible movie. You will not be disappointed at all. I promise you.”

Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens – nine galactic questions

28 October

The countdown for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is officially underway after Disney surprised fans by releasing pre-order tickets last week.

The film will begin screening in the UK on 17 December, meaning British audiences can see it 24 hours before fans in the US. It will be released even earlier in France, on 16 December.

Trailers for Star Wars 7 have offered glimpses of characters old and new. Set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens will see the return of Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, as well as new characters such as rebellious stormtrooper Finn, played by John Boyega, and scavenger Rey, played by Daisy Ridley.

Excitement over the first instalment of the new trilogy hit fever pitch on Force Friday, when new Star Wars toys were unveiled around the world. Details on the back of merchandise helped to flesh out some of the new roles, but plenty of questions remain…

Why is the force reawakening?

The title of Episode VII implies that the Force has gone through a long period of dormancy, perhaps because the last remaining Jedi Luke Skywalker has been lying low. One trailer reveals: “There has been an awakening… The dark side and the light.” So what or who has caused the resurgence?

Who has the force?

In one trailer, Luke can be heard saying: “The Force is strong in my family. My father has it… I have it… My sister has it… You have that power too.” But who is he talking to? Finn has been seen with what appears to be Anakin’s missing lightsaber, fuelling the theory that he is on a mission to return it to Luke or Leia. Meanwhile, fans paying close attention to the speaking Star Wars toys have noted that villain Kylo Ren is “immune to the light”, suggesting he may be full of the dark force.

The Kylo Ren toy also says: “Together, we will destroy the resistance and the last Jedi.” Some have taken this to mean Luke, but others suspect he could be referring to more than one Jedi Knight. The footage of Finn with a lightsaber has led to speculation that he might have the force. However, Nerd Reactor points out that it is “entirely possible that lightsabers could have been slowly reaching people from scavengers, especially since hundreds, if not thousands, of Jedi were killed at the hands of Darth Vader and Darth Sidious”. Other characters rumoured to be “force sensitive” include Daisy Ridley’s Rey, Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux and Lupita Nyong’o’s CGI character Maz Kanata.

Who is related to whom?

Star Wars’s reputation for lineage twists has prompted much speculation about which characters will turn out to be related in The Force Awakens. Is Finn the son of the smooth-talking Lando Calrissian? And could Kylo Ren be related to Han or Luke? One rumour has it that Gleeson’s General Hux is the son of Luke and is responsible for reawakening the force.

Star Wars fans were said to be furious after toy trading cards appeared to reveal one massive spoiler. Rey, whose second name has not been released, has long been rumoured to be a Skywalker and the daughter of Princess Leia and Han Solo. The official Top Trumps style cards for Star Wars: The Force Awakens appear to support this claim. The cards feature “Power-Up Link Symbols” to indicate each character’s abilities and affiliations, such as Rebel or Sith. Rey has the Rebel and Jedi symbol on her card – a huge spoiler if it is revealed to be true.

Finn, who is seen wielding a lightsaber in one trailer, does not have the Jedi symbol on his card – although Screenrant points out that “this doesn’t necessarily mean that Finn is not a Force-sensitive individual; he just may not have started his training yet”. The website adds: “It’s true that some of these new merchandise items could be embellished by the manufacturers since so little is known about the Force Awakens plot. Still, some of the details seem oddly specific to simply be the creation of a company.”

Another possibility, which might frustrate fans, is that any next-of-kin revelations might not even emerge in Star Wars VII. After all, it wasn’t until Episode V that Luke learnt about his own family ties.

What has happened since the fall of the Galactic Empire?

The original trilogy of films ends with the liberation of the galaxy as the evil Emperor Palpatine is killed by his own general, Darth Vader. So what has happened in the 30 or so intervening years between that moment and The Force Awakens?

An entire plot synopsis for the forthcoming film has been sketched out by one dedicated Star Wars enthusiast who stitched together all the rumours into a coherent whole. It suggests that when The Force Awakens begins, the Galactic Empire has been replaced by a new enemy named the First Order.

Fan site MakingStarWars.net has been attempting to work out the allegiances of the main characters in the new film. Recently released collectors’ cards seem to indicate that Finn will be aligned with an organisation called The Resistance, the future of the Rebel Alliance. Meanwhile, new villain Kylo Ren is being associated with a shadowy group known as the Knights of Ren. Few firm details are known about how Ren’s group connects to the First Order.

Did Leia and Han make it?

Discounting the slightly uncomfortable flirtation between Luke Skywalker and his estranged sister, the main love story underpinning the original trilogy of films was between Han Solo and Princess Leia. The two finally appeared to be together at the end of Return of the Jedi and seemed on course to live happily ever after. But rumours suggest that when The Force Awakens opens the pair have become estranged. 

So what has come between the feisty princess and her loveable rogue? Some have suggested that the hot-headed duo never really got together. Others say that they married and then were driven apart. All will be revealed when the film is released in December.

Will Han Solo die?

The rumour that Harrison Ford’s Han Solo might be killed off in Star Wars Episode 7 has resurfaced again. Film insiders have apparently told the Mail on Sunday‘s diary editor Charlotte Griffiths that the “Space Cowboy will sadly be no more come the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.

One fan site claimed earlier this year that a scene has been filmed at Berkshire’s Pinewood Studios in which Han confronts villain Kylo Ren, who “silences the conversation forever”. Han is apparently “never in a scene after this” and Chewbacca is said to let out a “barrage of angry roars and laser blasts”.

Han has escaped death numerous times: he was nearly crushed to death in a garbage compactor on the Death Star, survived a snowstorm on the ice planet Hoth and was even sealed in carbonite and lived to tell the tale. According to George Lucas, Ford was desperate to be killed off in The Empire Strikes Back, but the director told him he needed him for the next movie. So will he really get his wish in Episode VII? All will be revealed in December.

Can it beat the original trilogy?

Nearly two thirds of Star Wars fans are expecting The Force Awakens to be the best in the franchise, according to a new poll. A third of respondents said it was the advanced CGI technology that was fuelling their excitement, while others cited director JJ Abrams, the cast and the new plot. A quarter of those surveyed said they expected it to be “more true to the Star Wars series” than the second prequel trilogy, released 22 years after the first film A New Hope.

Episode 7 is widely expected to shatter box office records. Despite being released just a fortnight before the end of the year, it is predicted to be the highest grossing film of 2015 and has been the bookies’ favourite – ahead of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World and Spectre – since the first teaser trailer was released in November last year. A second survey put it among the most highly anticipated films ever, although it failed to beat Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, coming out in November.

“Considering the fact that all we have to go on are two teasers and small snippets of footage here and there, it may be worth waiting to see the movie before walking the slippery slope of calling it the best Star Wars movie ever,” warns Inverse. “Even the trailer for The Phantom Menace makes it look like the greatest movie of all time, and we know how that turned out.”

Why is Finn so important?

Tying in with the theory that Finn is related to Lando Calrissian, one rumour has it that the reformed Stormtrooper has no idea at all about his own lineage and adopts the name Finn based on his Stormtrooper designation: FN-2187.

Starwars7news.com suggests that Finn doesn’t know anything about his young life because he was recruited by the First Order as a young child. This also explains why he only has a first name, the site says.

Another rumour attempts to solve the conundrum of why the young soldier is able to wield a lightsaber, traditionally the weapon of a Jedi knight. Starwars7news says that this may be because the First Order has come to take an interest in “civilized weapons”, and that Stormtroopers of the future have been trained to fight with swords and shields. 

A more complex permutation of the rumour holds that Finn is the protege of the mysterious Captain Phasma, played by Game of Thrones actress, Gwendoline Christie.

“This would explain why she takes interest more in where he is than other individual Stormtroopers,” says Starwars7news. “So if that’s the case, Finn ditching the army is most likely seen as an extremely dire situation by the First Order, and Captain Phasma would have a personal reason to lead a manhunt against her former pupil.”

How serious is the merchandising going to be?

Star Wars creator George Lucas famously made his fortune by taking a (comparatively) low salary of just $150,000 for the first Star Wars movie but keeping hold of all merchandising rights and everything sequel-related. Before the first film was released, studio heads thought that Star Wars might turn out to be just another sci-fi space drama. Lucas knew better: between 1977 and 1978, the film sold $100 million worth of toys and, according to celebritynetworth.com, Star Wars-themed toys have now generated more than $12 billion. So it should come as no surprise that a barrage of new toys and products is being lined up for The Force Awakens’ pre-Christmas release.

So how much junk is going to be available? A lot. Alongside the usual selection of light sabers, action figures and costumes, Petco just announced a line of Star Wars 7-themed pet toys including the STAR WARS Kylo Renâ„¢ rope wrap dog toy: $12.99 and the STAR WARS Captain Phasmaâ„¢ rope wrap dog toy: $12.99.

“Response to the highly anticipated Star Wars Pet Fans Collection has been exceptional,” Rebecca Frechette, senior vice president of merchandising for Petco said. “We’re thrilled to be a part of the Force Friday global event and bring these new characters to life for our furry fans and their pet parents.”

As Yoda said: “Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”

 

Star Wars 7: watch the ‘ultimate’ The Force Awakens trailer

26 October

The movie fan site Science vs Cinema has compiled the “ultimate” trailer for the forthcoming sci-fi film Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens, which opens in the UK and US on December 18, by bringing together all the footage from the three trailers that have been released so far into a 220-second magnum opus.

Since the beginning of the year, the film’s parent company, Disney, has been drip-feeding glimpses of The Force Awakens via trailers, stills and preview articles in the press, but this is the first time all the footage can be seen in one place.

Before the film has even come out, the trailers offer fans an insight into the plot of the next episode and provide a preliminary look at the film’s new heroes, Finn and Rey, as well as the movie’s main villain, Kylo Ren.

The last trailer to be released comes prior to tickets going on sale, two months ahead of the film’s December release. Buoyed by the excitement generated by the extended trailer, ticket sales in the US have so far smashed all previous records, with an estimated eight times the number of tickets pre-ordered than the previous record-holder, The Hunger Games.

Star Wars News Net calls the extended trailer three minutes and 40 seconds of “pure awesomeness.”

Star Wars 7 smashes ticket sale records, but what will the film be about?

22 October

Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens this week smashed records that had previously been set by The Hunger Games for most tickets sold on the first day of release, Variety magazine has revealed. But as StarWarsNewsNet.com notes, Star Wars 7 didn’t just beat the record, “it obliterated it.”

“It didn’t just surpass that picture, it shattered its benchmark, outselling The Hunger Games eight times over. Traffic to the online ticketer Fandago’s site surged to seven times more than its peak level in less than 24 hours”, Variety reports.

Several cinemas reported that their sites crashed. The Alamo Drafthouse theatre group had so many problems throughout the say that the CEO of the Texas-based cinema chain issued an apology calling the release “the single biggest simultaneous surge for movie tickets our industry has ever seen”.

“This is an extraordinary time for the industry, which experienced unprecedented ticketing demand last night for Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Fandango said in a statement. “The enthusiasm for this year’s most anticipated movie is out of this world and we expect it to continue all the way to its debut on Dec 18.”

After the release earlier this week of the latest full-length trailer for Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens (below), many fans might still be wondering what the new film is all about. Fortunately, a Star Wars “super fan” has mapped out the entire plot of the forthcoming film by piecing together the various leaks, rumours and spoilers that have come out over the past twelve months.

Not so long ago, in a galaxy nearby, fan site MakingStarWars.net compiled all the most credible plot details that have so far been published online into a coherent synopsis that many Star Wars obsessives believe could provide an accurate insight into the most hotly anticipated film of the decade. So what will Star Wars 7 be all about?

Warning: possible spoilers ahead

Even after being edited by MakingStarWars.net, Star Wars fan DarthLightlyBruise’s comprehensive overview runs to 3,800 words. According to the summary, Star Wars 7 will open with a blue lightsaber tumbling through space before coming to rest on a desert planet called Jakku. The lightsaber ends up in the hands of a character named the Vicar, played by Max von Sydow.

Understanding the significance of the weapon, the Vicar gets in touch with the Resistance – the new incarnation of the Rebel Alliance. Soon a pilot named Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, arrives to collect the lightsaber. However, the First Order – a remnant of the evil Galactic Empire – intercepts the communication and arrives to collect the Jedi weapon. Dameron stores it in a droid named BB-8 and sends him on his way.

As the film progresses we meet a stormtrooper named Finn – played by British actor John Boyega, who goes awol after being traumatised by war. While on the run, Finn meets villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and a beautiful junk scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley).

The film also features appearances from Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and – eventually – Queen Leia (Carrie Fisher), the leader of the Resistance. When Leia and Han meet, it is clear that they have become estranged but as the film progresses they rekindle their love.

The narrative of the film follows the Resistance’s effort to return the lightsaber to its rightful owner. But who could that be? Some suggest Luke Skywalker lies in wait at the end of the film.

As CinemaBlend notes, “this is all based on the unconfirmed rumours that have made the rounds. The fan essentially places them in an order that makes sense and, using some conjecture and knowledge of these movies to link them together, creates a potential narrative”.

So what may be gleaned from the latest trailer that wasn’t known previously? According to The Verge‘s scene-by-scene analysis, several new themes become clear.

First, the reincarnation of the Empire, the First Order, “seem more fanatical than the old Imperials” and appears to be made up of “true believers rather than conscripted soldiers.”

Second, the main villain of the piece, Kylo Ren, can be seen standing on the deck of what appears to be a Star Destroyer possibly overseeing the construction of the “strange new Death Star-ish orb” that some fans spotted in the poster. Is another planet-destroying weapon under construction?

Finally, in the trailer Han explains that stories about the past were “all true”. The Verge offers two possible explanations for why there may be some uncertainty about the past in the minds of the two young leads. “Both Rey and Finn could simply be bumpkins who know little about the galaxy outside their homeworlds, but maybe the end of the Empire wasn’t as well publicised as the parties at the end of Return of the Jedi suggested. Or maybe, without the Empire’s logistical and communication links, the galaxy was kicked into a dark age where stories travelled slowly and people travelled irregularly.”

All will be revealed when the film arrives in cinemas in late December.

Even the film’s young stars look impressed

Not even the film’s new leads look as though they were prepared for the scale of the project they have just completed. Both John Boyega, who plays the film’s rogue Storm Trooper, Finn, and Daisy Ridley, who plays new heroine, Rey, posted their reactions to the latest trailer on their Instagram accounts.

Both appear to be entirely overwhelmed by the short clip. Ridley bursts into tears while watching the trailer on her iPhone, while Boyega nods approvingly before throwing himself over the couch and onto the floor screaming “what?”

According to Cinemabland, Ridley has embraced her new role throughout the film’s production. “Ridley is all about the Star Wars experience,” the site says. “She’s captured everything from teaser screen captures, posters and her character’s Topps trading card, to panel appearances, tiny Rey cos-players and her godfather’s dog macking on a Chewbacca stuffed animal.”

Boyega’s reaction too is “a testament to how passionate he feels about being able to contribute to this massive franchise”, the site says.

See the two stars’ reactions below.

How and where to get tickets

19 October

Disney announced that its hotly-anticipated new film, Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens, will open with a series of special 3D screenings as advance booking for tickets for the new film began this morning at 8am – two months ahead of the film’s release in UK cinemas.

Cinema chains across the UK and Ireland announced ticket sales via their Twitter accounts, and a new trailer is set to be released tonight during a game of American Football, Sky News reports.

The Odeon cinema chain wrote on its official Twitter account: “Ready are you? What know you of ready? #StarWarsTheForceAwakens tickets are on sale TOMORROW (Monday) morning!”

Some fans expressed disappointment that tickets to the child-friendly film were going on sale during the morning rush hour when many parents would be commuting to work.

The official Star Wars website also announced that some fans would be able to watch the entire series of films in a special “marathon” event culminating in a screening of the new film in 3D.

“The Star Wars Marathon Event is the ultimate fan experience. All seven movies. One epic journey. Guests will see each of the six previously released Star Wars episodes in digital 2D beginning with The Phantom Menace and concluding with the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 3D!” 

Disney also unveiled the film’s new poster, which “showcases an awakening of the dark side… and the light.” 

To book tickets, UK fans can visit the official Odeon site or Vue.

A new trailer for the film will screen during ESPN’s Monday Night Football, which begins at 1:30am BST. UK fans will be able to watch the trailer online soon after.