The production had a preference for using real locations and miniature models over green-screens and computer-generated imagery whenever possible in order to make the film aesthetically similar to the original Star Wars trilogy.
The first J.J. Abrams film not to have a musical score by Michael Giacchino. Aptly enough, Giacchino stated in an interview that he would rather hear the music of John Williams in a new Star Wars film than his own.
After publicly declining to direct a new Star Wars film, J.J. Abrams was visited at his Bad Robot office by Kathleen Kennedy. Their negotiations lasted over a month, during which time, Abrams' central concern was the vast magnitude and cultural significance of the project.
Both Brad Bird and Matthew Vaughn allegedly turned down the chance to direct. Bird had already committed to Tomorrowland (2015), forcing him to decline. Vaughn entered negotiations, even vacating the director's role on X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) in order to helm Episode VII, but eventually declined over "creative differences", reportedly disputes over the level of violence in the film and the casting of the female lead.
Michael Arndt penned the script for this film based on an outline by George Lucas for his abandoned sequel trilogy to the original Star Wars saga. Though few details of this outline have been made public, author Dave Pollack confirmed that the story would focus on the building of the New Republic after the fall of the Empire, that Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo would all appear, and that the children of Luke, Leia and Han would serve as the main characters of the story. However, Arndt's script was ultimately rejected and a new script penned by J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan.
When the first trailer was released, there was much discussion about how it appeared to be getting back to the "grubbiness" ("dirty transporters, second-hand rockets, things that broke") of Episode IV, rather than the CGI cleanliness of Episodes I-III. British TV star Phill Jupitus revealed in an interview that he "met an effects bloke in Essex, he drinks in my local coffee shop. He said [the makers of the new film] bought every gas-bottled air gun in England when they arrived because they wanted the Stormtroopers' guns to have a kick when they fired them. You don't have to fake it; it looks real."
Although the movie (and the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney) was not announced to the public before November 2012, both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher stated that they had discussed appearing in Episode VII and other future Star Wars films with George Lucas in the summer of 2012, months before the sale.
It is rumored that in the film, Luke Skywalker disappeared about a decade after the death of Darth Vader and the victory of the Battle of Endor and has not been seen in 20 years and is revealed to be living in seclusion on an island, isolating himself from society, as he fears he still could be corrupted and turn to the dark side of the force.
After he was cast, Oscar Isaac revealed to director J.J. Abrams that his uncle is a huge Star Wars fan. As a result, arrangements for Isaac's uncle to visit the film set were made. To the great surprise of both Isaac and his uncle, Abrams then asked if he would be interested in appearing in the film as an extra. Isaac's uncle quickly agreed.
The droid props in this film are produced by Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, who were members of the R2-D2 Builders Club. Their involvement began following Kathleen Kennedy coming across their work at Celebration Europe. They were subsequently contacted by executive producer Jason D. McGatlin, who contracted them into the creature effects team.
The first film, aside from the animated Clone Wars movie, not to open with the iconic 20th Century Fox Fanfare. Star Wars has a long history with this piece of music. John Williams re-recorded it especially for The Empire Strikes Back - the first time it had been done since its debut decades before.
Kevin Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch visited the set. Smith infamous for his open and talkative nature, was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and J.J. Abrams had World War 2 style propaganda posters titled "Loose Lips Sink Starships" hung up around the set as a reminder to Smith not to reveal spoilers for the film to the public. True to his word, the only tidbit Smith revealed about his visit was that he cried when he stood on the Millennium Falcon set, as it reminded him of how much he loved Star Wars as a child.
Original Italian release of "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens" in the cinemas in Italy was planned for January 6, 2016 (3 weeks after the international release, last country in the world). "Walt Disney Pictures Italia" had decided to release the new Star Wars film after the Pixar's movie The Good Dinosaur (2015) planned for the Italian cinemas for December 18, 2015. After this decision, Star Wars' Italian fandom has made a petition with over 5,000 signatures to Disney Italia's staff and they have asked to move the date of release in their country. On April 7, 2015 Walt Disney Pictures Italia decided to change the date of the two movies: "The Good Dinosaur" moved to a November 25, 2015 release, "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens" two days before the international release, on December 16, 2015 (Italy becomes first country in the world where the movie will be released in the cinemas).
Mark Hamill claimed that George Lucas nonchalantly told him over lunch that a new Star Wars trilogy was going to be made by Disney, and that if he did not want to be involved, Luke Skywalker would simply be written out of the script. However, Hamill immediately agreed to reprise the role.
Oscar Isaac found out that he had been cast in the movie only about an hour before the table read. He was told to fly to London and wait in a hotel room until he received a phone call informing him of whether he had to go downstairs and get in a waiting car to take him to the table read, or whether he had to fly back to the United States because a different actor got the role.
In October 2013, cinematographer Daniel Mindel, ASC revealed that, unlike the previous Star Wars trilogy, he and J.J. Abrams were to shoot the new feature primarily on 35mm film, as Abrams has on all prior projects. Initially, Mindel hoped to use Imax 70mm film for most of the feature, but later said they had opted for 35mm due to Imax's cumbersome weight and noise problems. 70mm IMAX film cameras will be used for some scenes.
The teaser trailer omits "Episode VII" from the film's title, similar to the naming pattern of the original trilogy (1977-1983). However, it has been stated that "Episode VII" will be included in the opening crawl.
The second trailer for the new movie was released during the opening panel for Star Wars Celebration VII (aka Star Wars Celebration Anaheim). Fans went crazy over it, and, as described by others, broke at that last line in the trailer. The last scene shows Han Solo and Chewbacca apparently entering the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon after a long absence. Han then says, "Chewie, we're home."
Max von Sydow played Emperor Ming the Merciless in the film Flash Gordon (1980). The Flash Gordon comic strip and Saturday morning serials were one of George Lucas' influences behind the "Star Wars" franchise.
In July 2014, it was rumored that Irish WWE wrestling superstar Sheamus would portray Darth Vader. Sheamus had previously portrayed Vader in Star Wars promotional tours and hinted that he may very well be portraying Vader again even though the character died in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
John Boyega was so nervous and frightened at the prospect of not getting the role that he didn't tell his parents that he had been cast until after a cast photo was posted online by the official Star Wars twitter page.
Mark Hamill rerecorded his monologue from Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) ("the Force is strong in my family") to be used in the teaser trailer, but it was decided that his newly recorded lines would be mixed with his originally recorded dialogue as a reverberation, so as to subtly tease his reprise of his role.
British actor Denis Lawson, X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles during the original Star Wars trilogy, has confirmed that he turned down an invite from Disney to reprise his role in the new installments. Lawson told British press that "I'm not going to do that. They asked me but it just would have bored me."
The voiceover in the second teaser trailer by Luke Skywalker (Hamil) is the same words he uses on Endor when revealing to Leia that she is his sister. Only difference is the in ROTJ he starts with 'You have the power too' when Leia says he has a power she could never have.
With this film, Walt Disney Pictures becomes the third studio to release a Star Wars film. The original six movies were released by 20th Century Fox and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) was released by Warner Bros.
From May to August of 2014, Disney and Lucasfilm collaborated with UNICEF for a charity campaign called "Force for Change". After raising over four million dollars, the winner was announced to be independent filmmaker D.C. Barns.
It was originally rumored Episode VII and the following installments would follow Ben Skywalker, son of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade and the expanded universe would officially be apart of the Star Wars canon. The rumor was false, when it was announced that Episode VII would disregard the expanded universe.
The new game of Star Wars Battlefront developed by DICE Entertainment and produced by EA for Playstation 4 , Xbox One and Games for Windows on the shelves on November 17 , 2015 in North America and on November 19 , 2015 in Europe, will have connections with the plot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
This sequel trilogy of Star Wars (Episodes : VII , VIII and IX) will introduce a new canon timeline in Star Wars' saga with a new Expanded Universe , with new stories in the books , comics , games, etc. The former Expanded Universe is still recognized from Lucasfilm but it was moved from the original canonical events in an "alternative timeline" known with the name Legend Universe. The official Star Wars's timeline is now composed of : Prequel trilogy ( Episodes : I, II , III) , Star Wars : The Clone Wars (2008-2013) , Star Wars : Rebels (2014-) , Original trilogy (Episodes : IV , V , VI) Star Wars : Battlefront (2015) , and Sequel trilogy (Episodes : VII , VIII , IX)
Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley were considered for the role of Rey, but both were already famous actresses (JLaw for the role of Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games saga and also for the role of young Mystique in X-Men movie prequels and Shailene for the role of Beatrice Prior in Divergent saga). In April 2014 J.J. Abrams chose Rey as Daisy Ridley, for repeat the same type of selections made by George Lucas with unknown actors for the leading roles. In 1976 Lucas chose: Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill for the roles of Princess Leia, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, respectively.
There are four actors from HBO hit show Game of Thrones (2011) who appear in this movie Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth, Jessica Henwick as Nymeria Sand, Mark Stanley as Grenn and Miltos Yeromelou as Syrio Forel
An article in the June 2015 edition of Vanity Fair states that J.J. Abrams has an idea to place Jar Jar's skeleton (as an Easter egg) into a few seconds of this film. The scene would apparently be set in a desert.