In a real-life parallel to the film Fanboys (2009), Mark Hamill and John Boyega successfully lobbied director J.J. Abrams to allow Star Wars fan Daniel Fleetwood to see the film before official release, as Fleetwood had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and was not expected to live to see the film's actual release date. Fleetwood was shown the film at a screening in his house, after Disney agreed. Fleetwood died November 10, 2015.
Mark Hamill claimed George Lucas nonchalantly told him over lunch a new Star Wars trilogy was going to be made by Disney, and 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. Hamill admitted, however, that he pretended to also be nonchalant about it, so it didn't seem like he was excited for the role. He also said within five seconds Carrie exclaimed she'd do it, and asked if there was a part for her daughter.
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. Giacchino's name shows up in Episode VII's credits as a Stormtrooper.
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.
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 Episodes IV-VI, rather than the CGI cleanliness of Episodes I-III. British television 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."
After he was cast, Oscar Isaac revealed to 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 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, and appears as one of the villagers during the opening sequence on Jakku.
While filming in summer 2014, Harrison Ford broke his ankle on the door of the Millennium Falcon. About a year later J.J. Abrams revealed that he hurt his back while trying to help get Ford out from under the door.
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 II-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.
X-Wing Blue Squadron makes its debut in The Force Awakens. In the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Luke Skywalker was originally supposed to fly with Blue Squadron, but the blue markings on the star fighters proved to be difficult to film against bluescreens, so it was changed to Red Squadron.
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 to mix his newly recorded lines with those originally recorded, as a reverberation, so as to subtly tease his reprisal of his role.
J.J. Abrams always wanted General Hux to be played by a young actor. He wanted the character to have a sense of tragedy and the fact that he appears to be too young to be in charge of a murderous group added to that. According to Abrams, the character's name was created after he noticed an old, abandoned grave site with the name Hux engraved on the stone.
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 said that they had discussed appearing in Episode VII and other future Star Wars films with George Lucas in the summer of 2012, several months before the sale.
The symbols on the flags hanging outside Maz Kanata's castle include Boba Fett's Mythosaur skull, Ziro the Hutt's Black Sun tattoo, Hondo Ohnaka's pirate symbol and several Podracer's flags. There is also the symbol of the 501st Legion on one of the flags. The 501st is an international fan-based organization dedicated to the construction and wearing of screen-accurate replicas of Imperial Stormtrooper armor, Sith Lords, Clone Troopers, bounty hunters, and other villains from the Star Wars universe.
Because of the secretive nature surrounding the film, several cast members found out that they had gotten parts in the film with very short notice. Domhnall Gleeson found out the day after he auditioned, which was only one day before the table read. Oscar Isaac found out only several hours before the table read, and was instructed to wait in a London hotel room to receive a call telling him whether he was to go downstairs and into a waiting car that would take him to the table read, or book a flight back to the United States.
When Finn bumps against the Dejarik (chess) table, the game that appears is the same game played by Chewbacca and C-3PO in Episode IV. The small creature that was thrown to the ground by the considerably larger creature is seen getting back to its feet, and then smashing his larger opponent with a mace-like weapon.
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.
At one point, Han Solo refers to many of the iconic vocabulary from the Star Wars mythos as "mumbo-jumbo." This is the very same word the late Sir Alec Guinness so (in)famously used in interviews, when complaining about the dialogue he had been given for his role in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
In a December 2015 New York Times interview, John Boyega was asked if his parents (who were both Nigerian immigrants to the UK) recognized the achievement represented by their son being a lead in a Star Wars movie, and Boyega responded, "They're from a Nigerian culture that has no interest in spaceships and all that nonsense. My dad wants to see real-life stuff. He's a big Bruce Willis fan. But he's caught the Star Wars bug. Mum hasn't. She's just like, 'Where do you come in?'"
Brad Bird and Matthew Vaughn reportedly 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.
In an interview with Daisy Ridley during the press tour, she recounted her first day on-set, where she nearly had a panic attack when her performance wasn't up to snuff. Ridley said about the first day on set, "I was petrified. I thought I was gonna have a panic attack on the first day. J.J. Abrams ...he probably doesn't remember telling me that my performance was wooden. This was my first day! And I honestly wanted to die. I thought I was gonna cry, I couldn't breathe."
The character of Maz Kanata was based on J.J. Abrams' former English teacher, Rose Gilbert, whose large glasses apparently also matched those of Maz. When beginning pre-production, it was revealed that Production Designer Rick Carter also had Gilbert as a teacher, and when coming up with the design of Maz, tried to contact Gilbert to let her know, but sadly, she had passed away at the age of 95.
Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac) is named after J.J. Abrams' former Personal Assistant, Morgan Dameron, and her daughter's stuffed polar bear named Poe. Morgan Dameron herself appears as Commodore Meta.
On May 22, 2013, Conan O'Brien requested of J.J. Abrams to work the line "Jub jub" (first used by Conan as the name of Aunt Selma's pet iguana on The Simpsons (1989)) into the movie when Abrams was a guest on Conan's talk show. Abrams agreed, and the line "Jub jub" is said by Teedo as he moves away from Rey and BB-8 on his luggabeast.
Rey continues the tradition of disparaging the Millennium Falcon when she calls it "garbage". In the original trilogy, Luke called the Millennium Falcon a "piece of junk", and Leia referred to it as a "bucket of bolts".
BB-8's design appears to have have been inspired by Ralph McQuarrie's original concept art for R2-D2, who also rolled around on a sphere-shaped bottom unit. Also, It was J.J. Abrams' idea to give BB-8 this name, because he thought he looks like a "B" and an "8".
Finn's trooper name, FN-2187, refers to Princess Leia's cell in Star Wars, but also to the short film 21-87 (1964), an early influence on George Lucas. The montage film contains a reference to a "Force" that inspired Lucas' conception of The Force in the Star Wars universe.
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.
In an interview for Entertainment Weekly, J.J. Abrams revealed more about Maz Kanata's backstory than is communicated in the movie: "Her history is that she was a pirate for a long time. She's lived over a thousand years. She's had this watering hole for about a century, and it's like another bar that you'd find in a corner of the Star Wars universe."
The new version of the X-Wing includes an element that Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston originally designed for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), but it was never used. Specifically, the circular engines that split into two half circles. The classic trilogy design had two cylinders on each side. A new aspect that was added for this movie, is that the wings themselves split vertically, as well as horizontally, with the front of the wing pushing down, and the back half up.
Kylo Ren's lightsaber blade is the first whose energy blade is always shaking or crackling. It indicates the Kylo Ren's violent behavior and his feelings impregnated by the Dark Side of The Force. Also, in the Blu-ray extras it is told that his weapon is not yet finished.
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 called "New Universe", with new stories in the books, comics, games, et cetera. 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' timeline is now composed of: Prequel trilogy (Episodes: I, II, and III), Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), Star Wars: Rebels (2014), original trilogy (Episodes: IV, V, and VI), and sequel trilogy (Episodes: VII, VIII, and IX). EA's Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) is not officially canon, as it features a gameplay in which characters can appear as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in his fully black outfit* from Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), on Hoth, neither of which truly happen in the canon timeline. However, Darth Vader did appear on Hoth in Episode V. * Luke's outfit has been fixed in an early 2016 update to match the clothing on hoth in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
Kylo Ren originally would have been a Dark Jedi, called the Jedi Killer, who was more akin to Darth Vader, and would power up by directly absorbing the energy of a star. At one point, he was even going to be a straight up Vader impersonator, wearing a exact copy of his suit in order to mess with Luke.
As BB-8 flees the massacre of the Jakku village near the beginning of the film, a very obvious puppet alien pops its head out of the sand to look at him. According to J.J. Abrams, everyone knew how bad it looked, but decided to keep it in anyway, because they thought it was cute. The puppet alien also says "ko ji ma" as a reference to video game Director Hideo Kojima, the creator of the Metal Gear Solid video game series.
DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(J.J. Abrams): [Greg Grunberg]: Almost every project J.J. Abrams has ever produced, directed, or been otherwise involved with, has contained a substantial role for, a cameo by, or at least a reference to his childhood friend Greg Grunberg. Grunberg, who has known Abrams since the age of four, first appeared in an Abrams project at age ten, they made home movies together while on playdates. Grunberg plays the character "Snap Wexley" in this film. Their previous collaborations include Lost (2004), Alias (2001), Felicity (1998), Super 8 (2011), Mission: Impossible III (2006), and Star Trek (2009). Abrams even managed to work Grunberg's name into his dialogue in Six Degrees of Separation (1993), a project in which Abrams was an actor, but not a writer, director, or producer.
At the start of her vision, Rey finds herself standing in a Cloud City corridor. In the novelization based on the original shooting script, she sees Luke and Vader duel during Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), but does not recognize them.
The quote from the trailer, "The Force is strong in my family. I have it... My father has it... My sister has it... You have that power too," was originally from Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). It has been modified slightly, with Luke originally saying, "You have that power too," to his sister, Leia, just before saying, "The Force is strong in my family."
This film had already accumulated enough IMDB user ratings (minimum twenty-five thousand) to be included in the Top 250 (coming in at #47), before the film could even be shown to the general U.S. audience, starting at 7 p.m. EST on December 17, 2015.
As of November 19, 2015, the film already made fifty million dollars, just through advance ticket sales. This is double the amount that The Hunger Games (2012) received, which previously held the top spot for most money made from advance ticket sales.
The lightsaber props used during production are different to the ones used in the previous movies. They now have specially designed blades that light up when activated, which now allows light reflections on the surrounding area.
During the infiltration of Starkiller Base, a stormtrooper can be heard saying, "We think they may be splitting up", on his comm system. The same line was spoken during the escape from the Death Star, when Obi-wan Kenobi is sneaking through the station corridors.
The second trailer for this movie was released during the opening panel for Star Wars Celebration VII (a.k.a. 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."
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, J.J. Abrams explained that the ash pile, in which Kylo Ren places his helmet, while interrogating Rey, is meant to be the ashes of his enemies that he has killed.
J.J. Abrams revealed in an interview published in Entertainment Weekly that he came up with the name of the Captain Phasma character after seeing its chrome design: "It reminded me of the ball in Phantasm (1979)."
J.J. Abrams and Harrison Ford started their acting careers with roles as delivery and messenger boys. Abrams' first appearance was twenty-five years after Ford's, but it was in Regarding Henry (1991), making a delivery to Harrison Ford's character.
George Lucas was initially opposed to anyone else making Star Wars movies after he did, and he was personally divided on whether or not he wanted to make another trilogy. When Disney acquired Lucasfilm, they got Lucas' story treatments for Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, however, the new writing team chose not to use them. However, when he attended the film's red carpet premiere, he said he liked the film, and even received a standing ovation from the audience (despite having nothing to do with the film). A couple of weeks later, however, Lucas seemed to change his tune, and criticized the film for being too "retro", and compared Disney to "white slavers". Lucas quickly took back his comments.
The large arch seen on the planet Jakku is a design by Ralph McQuarrie that first appeared in the 1995 book "The Illustrated Star Wars Universe." It was originally pictured as part of Jabba the Hutt's palace on Tatooine, and it also appeared as part of the Teth monastery in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008).
Joonas Suotamo, credited as "Chewbacca double," had no previous acting experience. He is a professional basketball player, who played for Penn State from 2005 to 2008, and graduated a year early with a degree in Film and Video. The 6'10" power forward has since appeared in the Finnish national team (nicknamed Wolfpack), and during the 2015-16 season, his team is Espoo Basket Team of the Finnish league Korisliiga. With his height listed as 209 centimeters, Suotamo is a good four inches shorter than Peter Mayhew.
In an interview with Daisy Ridley during the press tour, she mentions how she had not seen the film (at the time), but stated Steven Spielberg had already seen the film three times. Ridley stated about the matter, "I haven't seen the film yet. I kinda want to, and I kinda don't. Steven Spielberg has seen it three times, as he told me when I met him!"
The possibility of Hayden Christensen reprising his role, as Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader, was considered during pre-production. Art conceptions were created before the script was finished. It is also rumored he might also reprise the role in future Star Wars films or in the anthology film Rogue One (2016).
Originally, instead of the desert world of Jakku, Rey would have lived on an ocean planet where part of the Second Death Star crashed, and is now partially submerged. Part of the plot would have involved her diving into the depths of the underwater wreckage to find a map of the locations of the remaining Jedi, and we would have even seen the Millennium Falcon going underwater.
The Stormtrooper who attacks Finn with a big electric Z6 baton on Takodana yells, "Traitor!" when he sees Finn. He was quickly nicknamed TR-8R by fans, which spells "Traitor," but Starwars.com reveals his actual name to be FN-2199, nicknamed "Nines." Writer Greg Rucka gives more background about FN-2187 and Nines' training in a short story published in the book "Before the Awakening".
It was originally rumored that Episode VII, and the following installments would follow Ben Skywalker, son of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade, and the expanded universe would officially be a part of the Star Wars canon. The rumor was proven false, when it was announced that Episode VII would disregard the expanded universe.
First (and to date, the only) Star Wars movie in which the planet Tatooine is neither seen on-screen, nor mentioned. It appeared in all other prior films, except Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), but was mentioned by name there.
In October 2013 cinematographer Dan Mindel announced that, unlike the prequel trilogy, he and J.J. Abrams would shoot primarily on 35mm film to more closely match the visual aesthetic of the original trilogy. Initially Mindel had hoped to use IMAX 65mm film for most of the feature, but later said they opted for 35mm due to the cumbersome weight and noise problems with IMAX cameras. Ultimately, only one five-minute sequence (Rey and Finn's escape from Jakku in the Millennium Falcon) was shot in IMAX 65mm.
The original release of this movie in Italian cinemas, was planned for January 6, 2016 (three weeks after the international release, last country in the world). "Walt Disney Pictures Italia" had decided to release the new Star Wars film after Pixar's movie The Good Dinosaur (2015), planned for the Italian cinemas for December 18, 2015. After this decision, Star Wars' Italian fandom made a petition with over five thousand signatures to Disney Italia's staff, and 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, and this movie moved to two days before the international release, on December 16, 2015.
Ahead of the recording of the score, John Williams invited Gustavo Dudamel, the Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Venezuela, to conduct the Main Title and End Credits. Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic had presented a tribute to John Williams, at the start of their 2015-2016 season in their home venue of the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The Dudamel "takes", reportedly, are the ones used in the film. According to Dudamel in a Facebook post, his appearance at the sessions took everybody by surprise, including Disney and the sessions musicians, as Williams had only told George Lucas.
Captain Phasma was originally going to be a man, and J.J. Abrams was allegedly looking at Benedict Cumberbatch (whom he had worked with on Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)) for the role. However, after the film drew some complaints about the lack of women in the cast, the decision was made to make Phasma into a woman, thus marking her character the first pivotal female member of the Imperial Stormtroopers in an official, live action Star Wars film.
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.
This movie set the following U.S. box-office records: -Highest Gross (nine hundred thirty-four million dollars). -Fastest to Become Highest-Grossing Film (twenty days). -Highest Thursday Preview Gross (fifty-seven million dollars). -Highest Opening Day Gross (one hundred nineteen million dollars). -Highest Opening Weekend Gross (two hundred forty-seven million dollars). -Highest Opening Weekend Per Theater Average (fifty-nine thousand dollars). -Widest December Opening (4,134 theaters). -Highest IMAX Opening Weekend Gross (thirty million dollars). -Highest Second Weekend Gross (one hundred forty-nine million dollars). -Highest Third Weekend Gross (ninety million dollars). -Fastest to one hundred million dollars (one day). -Fastest to one hundred fifty million dollars (two days). -Fastest to two hundred million dollars (three days). -Fastest to two hundred fifty million dollars (four days). -Fastest to three hundred million dollars (five days). -Fastest to three hundred fifty million dollars (six days). -Fastest to four hundred million dollars (eight days). -Fastest to four hundred fifty million dollars (nine days). -Fastest to five hundred million dollars (ten days). -Fastest to five hundred fifty million dollars (eleven days). -Fastest to six million million dollars (twelve days). -Fastest to six hundred fifty million dollars (fourteen days). -Fastest to seven hundred million dollars (sixteen days). -Fastest to seven hundred fifty million dollars (eighteen days). -Fastest to eight hundred million dollars (twenty-three days). -Fastest to eight hundred fifty million dollars (thirty-one days). -Fastest to nine hundred million dollars (fifty days). -Highest Three-Day Gross (two hundred forty-seven million dollars). -Highest Four-Day Gross (two hundred eighty-eight million dollars). -Highest Fiv-Day Gross (three hundred twenty-five million dollars). -Highest Six-Day Gross (three hundred sixty-three million dollars). -Highest Seven-Day Gross (three hundred ninety million dollars). -Highest Eight-Day Gross (four hundred forty million dollars). -Highest Nine-Day Gross (four hundred ninety-six million dollars). -Highest Ten-Day Gross (five hundred forty million dollars). -Highest Friday Gross (one hundred nineteen million dollars). -Highest Sunday Gross (sixty million dollars). -Highest Monday Gross (forty million dollars). -Highest Tuesday Gross (thirty-seven million dollars). -Highest Opening Week Gross (three hundred ninety million dollars). Additionally, it set the following worldwide records: -Highest Opening Weekend Gross (five hundred twenty-eight million dollars). -Highest IMAX Opening Weekend Gross (forty-eight million dollars). -Fastest to one billion dollars (twelve days).
From May to August of 2014 Disney and Lucasfilm collaborated with UNICEF for a charity campaign called "Force for Change." After raising over $4 million, the winner was announced to be independent filmmaker D.C. Barns.
Maz Kanata was originally supposed to accompany the heroes back to the Resistance base, which is why there is a scene in the trailer, which was cut from the film, showing her giving Anakin's lightsaber to Leia. Lupita Nyong'o filmed her scenes at the base, but they were cut after being deemed unnecessary.
In the scene where Rey, Finn, Han, and Maz eat and talk in the cantina, a bowl of exotic alien fruit can be seen on the table they sit at. One of the alien fruits is really a kiwano melon. Orange and yellow in color and covered in spikes, the fruit is actually native to central and south Africa and can be found in some grocery stores.
The character of General Hux drapes his black leather military coat over his shoulders, resembling that of gestapo commander Major Arnold Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Further comparisons can be drawn when the First Order rallies to Hux's speech at Starkiller Base resembling similar striking images of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich gathering in Triumph of the Will (1935).
In the months following the release of the film, Erik Bauersfeld, who voiced Admiral Ackbar in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) as well as this film, passed away in April 2016 at the age of ninety-three. Four months later, in August 2016, Kenny Baker, who operated R2-D2 for the first six films of the franchise, while serving as a consultant for this one, passed away at the age of eighty-one.
Originally, what would have convinced Finn to leave the First Order would be witnessing numerous Resistance fighters being executed, and thrown out of an airlock. After escaping with Poe and crash landing, he would be hailed by a local tribe, and be "reborn" into a hero.
The original run time of the movie was two hours and forty minutes long, before being cut down to two hours and sixteen minutes, with some of the cut scenes remaining in the film, until only a month before release.
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 Brothers.
Chronologically, this is the first time in the Star Wars movie timeline since Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) that the word "Sith" is actually used. This term, used to describe Lords of the Dark Side of the Force, was never mentioned in the original trilogy. When Maz Kanata references it, this is the first time they are recognized as an evil entity to the protagonists of the original trilogy. Before this moment in the movie, Han even refers to "the Dark Side" without using "Sith", supporting the continuity of the term not being familiar to the original trilogy characters. A deleted scene for Star Wars (1977) released recently showed the term "Sith" being used by imperial officers, therefore supporting that "Sith" was still a canonical term since Star Wars' inception.
Denis Lawson, who played X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles in 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 the British press, "I'm not going to do that. They asked me, but it just would have bored me."
The Rebel base was shot in Greenham Common, which was home to the 501st Tactical Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force. They maintained ninety-six nuclear missiles. The 501st is also the name of a fan group of Star Wars enthusiasts.
While a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (2014), J.J. Abrams told Jimmy Fallon that while most of the score was written by John Williams, Williams preferred not to write the music for the scene in Maz Kanata's tavern. Abrams himself started composing a piece of music for that scene, but when he attended the musical "Hamilton" and met its composer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, he jokingly suggested that he would love to write music for a new cantina scene. Abrams contacted him later and took him up on the offer.
The werewolf-like creature that the camera follows as it enters Maz Kanata's castle is a Hassk. It is based in part on Ralph McQuarrie's concept art for Chewbacca, as well as a creature seen in his Cantina concept art. There are two more Hassks in this movie. All three can be glimpsed outside Maz's castle, when the inhabitants come out to watch the Starkiller beam.
Rey's instantly rising bread was created practically without the aid of any visual effects. According to Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould, his team spent several months working on the effect, and accomplished it by using a suction pump to remove the liquid, and an air pump to inflate the bread.
In July 2014 it was rumored that Irish WWE wrestling superstar Stephen Farrelly (aka "Sheamus") would play Darth Vader. Sheamus had previously portrayed Vader in Star Wars promotional tours and hinted that he may very well be playing Vader again, even though the character died in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
The Resistance was originally going to have a massive warship called the "Warhammer", which would use its heavily armored prow to breach planetary shields and then deploy smaller ships to exploit the hole.
The flickering, hazy style of Kylo Ren's light-sabre may allude to the fact that, since he didn't have a real Sith Master, Ren's abilities as a Sith are not as good as they should be. A clue to this is how long Finn, a non-Jedi, lasts in the light-sabre duel with him. However, when you also consider the "blown" quality of his voice when wearing the mask, this could be an allusion to his character traits; i.e. not in total control, prone to explosive tantrums.
When Kylo Ren insists that Rey's lightsaber belongs to him, he actually does have a measure of legitimate claim to it. Kylo's grandfather was Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker), who had that lightsaber before losing it to Obi-wan Kenobi on Mustafar, who then gave it to Anakin's son Luke (Kylo's uncle).
During a scene set in the forest surrounding Maz Kanata's castle, when Kylo Ren is passing through a gully in search for Rey, fog (smoke) forms on the right side of Kylo Ren in the shoot. If carefully inspected, a foggy outline of Supreme Leader Snoke can be seen (Snoke's "appearance" this time, is similar to how he appears in the hologram in front of Ren).
The "Starkiller", the weapon that the First Order built, shares its name with a character from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Starkiller, who was a kid trained by Darth Vader himself. Starkiller was also the original last name George Lucas considered for Luke, but settled on Skywalker instead.
When Rey is attempting to escape from Starkiller Base, a conversation can be heard between two Stormtroopers discussing the new T-17s: "Have you checked out the new T-17s?" "The T-17s, as far as I can tell are a great improvement." "Yeah. That's what they tell you. But believe me, they don't hold up." "They don't?" "No." This is similar to the conversation two Stormtroopers have in the Death Star as Obi-Wan powers down the tractor beam in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977): "You seen the new VT-16?" "Yeah. Some of the other guys were telling me about it." "They say it's...it's quite a thing to see - "
The name Kylo Ren is almost exactly the same as "Kybo Ren", a pirate character who was one of the main villains in Star Wars: Droids (1985). The name "Finn" was used for many different Star Wars characters before this movie, both male and female, including both a Weequay pirate (Finn Tegotash) and a Twi'Lek Jedi (Finn Ertay) in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), Finn Galfridian, the lead character in the Dark Horse comics series "Star Wars: Invasion", a Sith Master in the anthology comic book series "Star Wars Tales", a Galactic Republic soldier in Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011), Finn Shallo, a non-player character in Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (2003), and various one-off characters in other young adult novels and Marvel and Dark Horse comics.
Grossed two hundred forty-seven million dollars in its opening weekend in North America, surpassing Jurassic World (2015), which previously held the record with two hundred eight million dollars. This marks the fourth occasion a Star Wars film has set the weekend gross record in North America: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) set the record twice, first in its eleventh weekend in 1977 with seven million dollars, and again in the first weekend of its 1978 re-issue, with ten million dollars, and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) set the record with twenty-three million dollars in its opening weekend.
The first paragraph of the opening crawl refers to Luke Skywalker as "the last Jedi". On January 23, 2017, the title of Episode VIII was revealed to be "The Last Jedi", making this the first time the title of a Star Wars movie is found in the opening crawl of its predecessor.
As of December 19, 2015, this movie has the fastest growing number of IMDb voters, with over seventy-five thousand votes accumulated on December 18, only its U.S. release date, and over one hundred ten thousand on December 19, only its second day of wide release.
The look of Kylo Ren took the longest of all the new characters to design. Originally simply known as "Jedi Killer", the earliest designs of his helmet resembled more grotesque versions of Ralph McQuarrie's earliest version of Darth Vader. Other helmet designs were given to minor characters, such as members of the Guavian Death gang and First Order Fleet Engineers. A painting of a caped silver First Order Trooper was also originally considered for Kylo Ren, instead provided the blueprints for Captain Phasma.
Starkiller Base was originally located on Dantooine, with the First Order converting the old Rebel base there, as mentioned in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Starkiller would have also been called the "Doom Star", and its cannon would have fired out of a volcano.
After the release of the teaser trailer, many fans were convinced that BB-8 was entirely computer generated, judging from a brief closeup-shot of the droid. This caused mixed reactions among fans, especially from those who disliked the extensive use of CGI in the prequel trilogy. They were proven wrong when an actual, moving prop of the BB-8 droid was presented during the Star Wars Celebration 2015 in Anaheim.
Disney actually allowed quite a few terminally ill people to have an early screening of the movie. Including a little eight year old girl from Connecticut, who received a special visit from a 501st Legion member dressed up as Darth Vader, accompanied by Disney representatives, bringing her the movie to watch it at home. The little girl passed away not long afterward.
Grossed fifty-seven million dollars from the Thursday previews in North America, setting a new record for preview screenings. The previous record was held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), which grossed forty-three million dollars.
There was a scene that was cut from the Maz Kanata's castle scene, in which Rey runs into Unkar Plutt, who demands that Rey come back with him to Jakku. Rey aims her blaster pistol at Plutt, but Plutt grabs her arm and Chewbacca snatches Rey's gun and gives it back to Rey, and Plutt pokes Chewbacca's wounded arm. The deleted scene was in the novelization.
Ben Schwartz was recruited by J.J. Abrams to provide voice effects for BB-8 after the two met and became friends on the short-lived NBC show Undercovers (2010), where Schwartz was a supporting actor, and Abrams was an Executive Producer. Schwartz and co-voicer Bill Hader, a friend of both men, were asked by Abrams to not disclose their involvement in the film until it had its world premiere. They agreed, and Schwartz broke the news by posing for an Instagram post with him standing next to a BB-8 figure at the event.
The First Order drop ship, that FN-2187 rides to Jakku, strongly resembles a World War II-era Higgins LCM (Landing Craft, Mechanized) with its rectangular shape, large bow ramp, and small pilot house on top of the back of the ship.
The X-Wing fighters have the new engine design with a half-circle intake on each wing. However, the wrecked X-Wing fighter in the sand, as Rey's tractor hovercraft passes by early in the film, has the older design with a smaller full-circle intake on each wing. This is consistent with the origin of the wreckage, presumably from the Battle of Jakku, which occurred during the Rebellion's victory over the Galactic Empire (in the era of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)).
The Stormtrooper, whom Rey convinces to release her restraints and leave the door open, was played by Daniel Craig. Fitting, because it's the 007th Star Wars film. Craig, who was shooting Spectre (2015) at the same Pinewood Studios in the UK, jokingly asked friend and 2nd AD Ben Dixon to see if J.J. Abrams would allow him to play a small part. Craig was surprised when Abrams agreed to his cameo.
There was only one pre-release photo of Domhall Gleeson in the role of General Hux, and during an interview with Gleeson, a writer asked him if Hux was a good or bad guy. Gleeson laughed and said "We're all in a lot of trouble if a guy wearing THAT uniform becomes a good guy!", referring to the fact that Hux's military outfit was purposely designed to look like a space version of a Nazi Wehrmacht uniform.
Disney arranged a screening for troops stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan on Christmas Day at the United States Embassy and gave out exclusive military-style "challenge coins" to attendees who answered Star Wars trivia.
In Jakku's backstory: in the aftermath of the battle of Endor, a space battle broke out between the New Republic and the Empire, which made its last stand. New Republic and Imperial forces fought on the planet and in space, but the Empire was defeated, and in the aftermath of the Battle of Jakku, the planet was covered with wrecked starships and weapons and Niima established a black marketing operation based on selling recovered weapons, computer and engines and Niima named the starship graveyard on Jakku Niima Outpost.
According to Ewan McGregor, the "Rey" part of Obi-Wan Kenobi's line is Alec Guinness (cleverly edited from the word "afraid", since he obviously never said the actual name in his SW films), with McGregor providing the rest of the line. Source: Appearance on the Graham Norton Show).
James Arnold Taylor, who has voiced Obi-wan Kenobi in multiple cartoons and video games (such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)), had originally recorded all the dialogue for Obi-wan Kenobi, featured in this film. However, at the end of post-production, J.J. Abrams decided to bring in Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-wan in Episodes I-III, to deliver the lines in the finished film.
Harrison Ford plays Han Solo, who flies a spaceship called the Millennium Falcon. Interestingly enough, Ford is actually a licensed pilot and loves flying planes. He was once in an accident while flying, where he crashed a plane in a golf course, seriously injuring himself.
Kylo Ren's ship is a next generation variant of the Imperial Shuttle seen in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) which transported Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine in separate scenes from a Star Destroyer ship to the second Death Star. This early shuttle version was also hijacked and used by the Rebel Alliance to penetrate Endor's defences.
Poe flies an X-wing, that is black with orange stripes, except for his mission on Jakku, when he uses one with a white fuselage with blue stripes. Also, his normal helmet is black, with a red rebel logo, except when he is on Jakku, when it is white with a blue logo. Since Kylo Ren is surprised to find him on Jakku, it is possible that he was traveling undercover there.
On January 6, 2016 it surpassed Avatar (2009)'s seven hundred sixty million dollar gross, to become the highest grossing film ever in North America unadjusted for inflation (although it's number three worldwide, behind Avatar (2009) and Titanic (1997)). This marked the first time the domestic record has been held by a sequel, every prior film to set the record was either the first film of a series or a standalone film. It is also the first domestic record holder to not receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture since the establishment of the award. The past record holders are The Birth of a Nation (1915), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Sound of Music (1965), The Godfather (1972), Jaws (1975), Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Titanic (1997), and Avatar.
Right before Han and Finn discuss the plan to find Rey, a squad of Stormtroopers walk by. As they walk by, one says, "We think they may be splitting up". This is a reference to a squad of Stormtroopers from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), who say the exact same thing.
In Lor San Tekka's backstory: Tekka was a explorer and a member of The Church of the Force, an underground for non-Jedi that were not Force sensitive. Tekka was an ally of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, and he also knew Ben Solo before he became Kylo Ren. When Ren wiped out the Jedi Academy, Luke gave Tekka the map.
Plans for filming some parts of a Star Wars film on-location in Iceland date back to at least Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), but this is the first film in the canon to make good on such plans.
According to Chuck Wendig's Star Wars "Aftermath" book trilogy, General Hux should be about ten years older than Kylo Ren, a.k.a. Ben Solo. Both actors are the same age, but playing their respective character's ages on-screen.
If measured by ticket sales, rather than dollar gross, this would rank as the eleventh most attended film of all time domestically, having sold an estimated one hundred seven million tickets. It is the most attended film since Titanic (1997) (one hundred twenty-eight million estimated tickets), and sold more tickets than every prior Star Wars film, except for the one hundred forty-two million tickets Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) sold in its initial run.
During the first conversation between Rey and Han aboard the Millennium Falcon, it is established that the ship was stolen initially by Duquesne, who lost it to the "Erwin boys", who finally lose the Falcon when Unkar Plutt steals it. This explains the presence of the Millennium Falcon on Jakku.
Michael Arndt worked on the script for eight months, but felt he needed eighteen more, such is the complexity of the Star Wars universe. J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan then took over, and completed their first draft in six weeks.
On May 4, 2016, J.J. Abrams appeared outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway with "Hamilton" Composer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda and Abrams performed "Jabba Flow", the cantina song from this movie, that the pair had composed together. This was one of the regular performances presented for the "Ham 4 Ham" lottery, the short events outside the Richard Rogers, in conjunction with the lottery for the small number of ten dollar tickets to "Hamilton" that are made available daily. Since only about twenty ten dollar tickets are available, but thousands of people show up each day, Miranda instituted this performance series, so that the lottery attemptees (the vast majority of whom will never win the chance to buy a ticket) would have some consolation. Before performing the song, Miranda and Abrams explained that the song's lyrics are in Huttese, and they translate as "No, lover lover: it wasn't me", which Miranda jokingly described as a tribute to Shaggy's 2000 reggae hit "It Wasn't Me". May 4 is known as "Star Wars Day" because of the pun in the date ("May the fourth be with you.").
As of this film, eleven actors have appeared in Star Wars and James Bond films; Sir Christopher Lee (appeared in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) as Count Dooku, and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) as Scaramanga); Shane Rimmer (appeared in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) as InCom Engineer, You Only Live Twice (1967) as Hawaii Radio Operator, Diamonds Are Forever (1971) as Tom, Live and Let Die (1973) as Hamilton, and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) as Carter); Jeremy Bulloch (appeared in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) as Boba Fett, and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) as H.M.S. Ranger Crewman, and For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Octopussy (1983) as Smithers); John Hollis (appeared in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) as Lando's aide and For Your Eyes Only (1981) as Bald Man in wheelchair (unofficially Blofeld)); Julian Glover (appeared in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) as General Veers, and For Your Eyes Only (1981) as Kristatos); Bruce Boa (appeared in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) as General Rieekan and Octopussy (1983) as U.S. General); Richard LeParmentier (appeared in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) as General Motti and in Octopussy as U.S. Aide); Dermot Crowley (appeared in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) as General Madine, and in Octopussy (1983) as Kamp); Max von Sydow (appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) as Lor San Tekka and Never Say Never Again (1983) as Blofeld); and Daniel Craig (appeared in this movie in a cameo, and Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012), and Spectre (2015) as James Bond himself), and David Prowse (appeared in Casino Royale (1967), and as Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy). Of them, four (Sir Christopher Lee, John Hollis, Julian Glover, Max Von Sydow) have played Bond villains; three (Jeremy Bulloch, John Hollis, Julian Glover) were in For Your Eyes Only (1981), and three (Bruce Boa, Richard LeParmentier, and Dermot Crowley) were in Octopussy (1983). Furthermore, numerous stuntmen and extras appeared on-screen in various parts in both franchises, but did not receive an on-screen acting credit. As a side note, Sir Sean Connery, who played James Bond himself in numerous movies, appeared with Harrison Ford (who played Han Solo and Indiana Jones) in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
This film marks the fourth time that John Williams has received an Academy Award nomination for the original film score of a Star Wars film. The other three are for the original trilogy. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) is the only film to receive the award.
When Han, Chewie, and Finn are searching for Rey some comm chatter states that there is a disturbance in sector "718". That is the phone area code for the New York City boroughs of Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. J.J. Abrams was born in New York City, and his favorite music group, Beastie Boys hail from Brooklyn.
Despite being directed by an American, and production costs paid by a U.S. studio, the majority of actors are British. Excluding the original Star Wars actors and actress, among the main cast, only Adam Driver is an American.
The name of smuggler "Maz Kanata" is very likely a sly nod to "Mas Que Nada", a song popularized in the U.S. by Brasil '66 in the 1960s. In Brazilian Portuguese slang, "mas, que nada" (literally, "but, that is nothing") means "no way", "whatever", or "yeah, right!"
Cash cow franchise: Disney bought Lucasfilm for four billion dollars because Star Wars is one of the biggest, and it paid off: This movie made over five hundred million dollars in its opening weekend, and earned one billion dollars in twelve days (the fastest film to hit that mark). One month later, it managed to overtake Avatar as the highest-grossing movie ever in North America, and the total there is now a staggering nine hundred thirty million dollars. Worldwide, this movie stands as the third highest earner of all time, as well as the biggest moneymaker not directed by James Cameron (meaning it managed to, like Avatar and Titanic, surpass two billion dollars worldwide, and, like only Avatar, do it on its initial release). Of course, that's not even getting into the merchandise, or the inevitable Star Wars Land coming soon to Disney theme parks worldwide (which is where Disney will make back the rest of that four billion dollars).
There are three cast members from the BBC hit show Doctor Who (2005), who appear in this movie: Warwick Davis as Wollivan and Simon Pegg as Unkar Plutt. Christina Chong had a role, but her scenes were cut.
Gwendoline Christie was eager to take on the role of Captain Phasma, after J.J. Abrams outlined the key aspects of the villainous character, which Christie thought were "very progressive". She particularly liked that a clearly female character (even with her face not shown) was going to be unapologetically evil and cold-hearted.
General Hux's first name is not mentioned on film, in the end credits, nor in any related material released simultaneously with the film, but was eventually revealed in Chuck Wendig's 2016 Star Wars novel "Aftermath: Life Debt" as being "Armitage".
Harrison Ford's on-set injury put significant strain on the production schedule, to the point that there were discussions of pushing back the release date of the film into 2016 (vehemently opposed by Disney), and filming scenes of Han Solo with a body double and Ford's head digitally inserted. Ultimately, Ford was able to recover and complete his performance.
Max von Sydow is the second actor from the 1980 Flash Gordon movie to star in a Star Wars movie after Brian Blessed, who voiced Gungan leader Boss Nass in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999). The Star Wars films are heavily influenced by the Flash Gordon serials from the 1930s.
In an interview with Charlie Rose, George Lucas was critical of Disney's creative direction for the film, saying, "They said they wanted to make a movie for the fans. I said all I wanted to do was tell a story. They wanted to do a retro movie. I don't like that. Every movie I worked very hard to make them completely different, with different planets and different spaceships, to make it new."
In early 2016, Daisy Ridley had been announced that she was in talks to play Lara Croft in the remake of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). But, Alicia Vikander was cast. It's most likely Daisy Ridley may had passed on it, due to her commitment on Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017) and Star Wars: Episode IX (2019).
When the X-wings swoop in to attack the First Order Stormtroopers on Takodana, troopers are heard deploying Domino Squad into action. Domino Squad was also a squad of clones on Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) television show, which included Hevy, Cutup, Fives, and Echo. The latter two characters playing prominent repeating roles during the series.
Han refers to Jakku as a "junkyard". Watch carefully as Rey and Finn are running for the quad jumper. Look over Rey's left shoulder. In the background, is a device that looks like the Rebel generator from Hoth in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
B-Team sequel: The first full-fledged Star Wars film not to directly involve George Lucas, instead created by J.J. Abrams. A rare case of the B-Team sequel being more anticipated, because of a changing of the guard from the original creator.
Max von Sydow had played Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon (1980) and Dr. Liet Kynes in Dune (1984). The Flash Gordon serials was one of George Lucas' influences behind Star Wars, and it had been speculated, that "Dune" by Frank Herbert, had also been an influence behind Star Wars.
Before the film was released, a 13.5 inch action figure of Finn was available in stores that featured several lines of dialogue from the picture. One of these lines was one that does not occur in the film: him shouting "I don't know what to do!" According to the novelization, this would have been uttered after the crashed TIE fighter disappeared into the sinking sands.
Initially, right after the release of the first short teaser for this film, there were reports of some degree of internet murmur attempting to stir up controversy over the (somewhat surprising) appearance of a black person as a Stormtrooper. This largely failed and died down pretty quick.
Long before the debut of the film, the name "Captain Phasma" existed way before Disney registered the trademark for the name, in the fan fiction "Tarkin's Fist", published in 2009, Phasma was a ten-year-old daughter of an Imperial Admiral. Her name was eventually adapted by Lucasfilm for the commander of the First Order Stormtroopers, and was geared with chrome Stormtrooper armor, originally designed for Kylo Ren.
When Finn first arrives at the Resistance base on D'Qar, six Resistance troopers run towards the camera. A moment later, they pass Finn again, this time moving away from the camera. As Poe gets out of his X-Wing, a long haired young man runs past carrying two boxes. The same man with the boxes runs past Poe once more when Dameron greets BB-8. Immediately after that, two pilots, one of whom has short white hair, run past Finn twice. Finally, a group of three pilots run past Poe before he reunites with Finn, and when the two of them are talking, the same three pilots casually stroll by in the same direction as before.
Mel Brook's classic Star Wars spoof Spaceballs (1987) predicted Disney buying Lucasfilm Ltd. and taking over the franchise from George Lucas. In the film, the Dinks are based on the Seven Dwarves from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and when Lone Starr, Princess Vespa, Barf and Dot Matrix are found and rescued in the desert by the Dinks, Lone Starr says "When did we get to Disneyland?".
The three Star Wars trilogies are similar in focus to the Godfather trilogy. The original trilogy, like the first Godfather, deals with a transition of power from a father to his children. Luke and Leia are the lead characters, and become heroes in the galaxy after defeating the Empire, enforced by, Darth Vader. Michael Corleone takes over an Empire from his father, Vito Corleone. The Godfather Part II, like the prequel trilogy, tells how that father came to his position of power. In The Godfather Part III, Michael Corleone, who had tried to extricate himself from his father's business, must deal with his nephew, Vincent, who wants to continue his grandfather's work and take over his Empire. In this new trilogy, Luke must deal with his nephew, Kylo Ren, who also wants to resurrect his grandfather's Empire.
J.J. Abrams:  When locating the site of Starkiller Base's shields, Finn mentions "Precinct 47". J.J. Abrams frequently uses the number "47" throughout his work, most notably Alias (2001), Lost (2004), and Star Trek (2009).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Daniel Craig: The Stormtrooper, on whom Rey performs a Jedi mind trick was played by Daniel Craig. Fans have given him the unofficial Stormtrooper number JB-007, referring to the character James Bond 007, a role he has played four times. The Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2016) game finally revealed the Stormtrooper's actual designation: FN-1824.
According to Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, when Harrison Ford and Chewbacca set foot in the Millennium Falcon set, every person on-set was stunned. Kennedy claims that there must have been two hundred people who were completely quiet, due to the iconic presence of Ford and Mayhew back on Han Solo's ship.
The lightsaber battles are choreographed to be distinctly different from the ones in the first and second trilogies. Rather than the flashy, Force-assisted moves in the prequels or the formalized, kendo-like movements of the original trilogy, the fights are staged to appear less rehearsed, and more brutal and realistic. According to John Boyega and others, this was a deliberate choice to reflect the characters' inexperience with lightsabers as a weapon. Kylo appears to have had little experience in formal dueling, and Finn and Rey pick up lightsabers and use them with no training at all.
Mark Hamill was notably absent from the marketing of the film, and his image did not appear in the trailers or on the poster to mirror his absentee role in the story. He is present in the various trailers, only as a voiceover rerecording of lines from Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) and one shot from behind, showing his mechanical hand reaching for R2-D2. Though he received second billing, he only appears in the aforementioned shot from the trailer in Rey's Force vision, and in the final scene of the film, and has no dialogue in either appearance. His screentime in the final cut amounts to thirty seconds. He had filmed much more footage that was left on the cutting room floor.
Luke Skywalker's hiding place was filmed at Skellig Michael, an island off the southwest coast of Ireland. The steps Rey climbs, and the stone buildings she passes, are part of a Christian monastery founded sometime between the sixth and eighth centuries.
During the Falcon's second flight, Finn finds the Jedi training remote from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). The helmet Luke wore during the training session can be spotted hanging from the side of the engineering station in the Falcon's main hold.
Michael Arndt penned a 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, 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 was penned by J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan.
The name of the First Order's weapon is "Starkiller". This was Luke Skywalker's original last name when George Lucas wrote the Star Wars story. The name was given to the character Galen Marek, who was Darth Vader's secret apprentice in the video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008), as a code name. It's Starkiller's actions in the game, that leads to the creation of the Rebel Alliance.
When Obi-wan Kenobi's voice is heard in the Force sequence, it is done by Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor. James Arnold Taylor, who voiced Kenobi in the Star Wars cartoons, had also recorded a line, but it was cut out to make way for Ewan McGregor.
When Kylo Ren is reading Rey's mind in the interrogation chamber, he says he sees her dreams of an island in the middle of an ocean. In the final scene, Rey locates Luke on an island in the middle of an ocean.
Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), and Mike Quinn (Nien Nunb) are the only cast members to reprise their roles from the original Star Wars trilogy, while Daniels and Mayhew are the only actors to reprise their roles from the prequel trilogy as well.
During his duel with Rey, Kylo Ren receives a large facial scar similar to the one Anakin Skywalker had in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005), which he received during a battle in between Episodes II and III.
During her escape on the Starkiller base, Rey overhears a conversation between two stormtroopers who discuss the new "BT-17", which is a reference to the first movie Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), where Obi-Wan Kenobi overhears two stormtroopers having a similar conversation about the new BT-16 while disabling the tractor beam on the Death Star.
In the climax of the first film in all three trilogies, a major character, who is serving as a mentor to the younger cast, is killed by lightsaber at the hand of the film's primary antagonist. In Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) was killed by Darth Maul, in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) Obi-wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) was killed by Darth Vader, and in this film, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) was killed by Kylo Ren. Neeson and Ford were also the top billed actors in the films, in which they died, and while Guinness was not, Ewan McGregor received top billing playing the same character in Episodes II and III.
This is the first Star Wars film without a physical appearance from Anakin Skywalker or Obi-wan Kenobi, though Kenobi's voice can be heard saying, "Rey, these are your first steps" at one point in the film.
Han reveals that his son's real name is Ben. Harrison Ford has a son named Ben in real-life. In the Expanded Universe, Luke has a son named Ben. Also, in the Expanded Universe, Han and Leia have a son who turned to the Dark Side, named Jacen Solo.
Contrary to popular belief, the segment of Rey's Force vision with Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren surrounded by dead bodies, does not take place at Luke Skywalker's Jedi Academy, nor are the bodies Luke's pupils. Pablo Hidalgo, of Lucasfilm's story group, stated the scene takes place elsewhere, and the man stabbed at the beginning of the sequence by Kylo Ren, is a "clan leader".
Kylo Ren's lightsaber has the crossguard blades, due to being an ancient design that requires excess energy to be vented from the main shaft. The blade has an unsteady energy beam, due to his lightsaber housing a cracked kyber crystal.
In the scene where Kylo Ren killed Han Solo, Harrison Ford said that he wanted the character to die an honorable and noble death. Ford has been trying to do this since the release of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). J.J. Abrams agreed to this, because Ford believed the character has had a good enough run in the franchise, to where Solo could not be forgotten.
Poe's fake-out "death" after being rescued by Finn, was originally supposed to be genuine, which actually made Oscar Isaac hesitant to take the role (as he'd played a character who suffered a similar fate in The Bourne Legacy (2012)). J.J. Abrams later decided to spare Poe, after coming up with a way to temporarily write him out of the plot, without having to kill him off.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK: (A mystery box): The box where Rey finds Luke's light-saber. In a childhood trip to Lou Tannen's Magic Store, J.J. Abrams bought a "mystery magic box", a box that has always remained a mystery. He's never opened it, believing that, unopened, "It represents infinite possibility. It represents hope. It represents potential. What I love about this box, and what I realized I sort of do, in whatever it is that I do, is I find myself drawn to infinite possibility and that sense of potential." Abrams has used "mystery boxes" in many of his projects, including Lost (2004), Cloverfield (2008), Super 8 (2011), and Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013).
There was some dissatisfaction among fans about how Leia, in response to Han's death, chooses to hug Rey (whom she has never met before) instead of Chewbacca (as they both have known Han and each other for decades). In an interview with Slashfilm, J.J. Abrams explained that his intention was for Chewbacca to be concerned with giving the injured Finn medical attention. In his absence, Leia and Rey would feel a connection with each other through the Force, and therefore, in their grief, reach out to each other. Abrams acknowledged that he made a mistake by keeping Chewbacca in the shot, making it look as if Leia was passing him by, which was never his intention.
When Finn and Rey meet Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon, she questions if he was the same man who did the Kessel Run in less than fourteen parsecs, being corrected by Han as he did the run in less than twelve parsecs. In Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Han Solo boasted to Luke Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi that he made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs to justify the high speed of the Millennium Falcon. Since then, a parsec is an unity of space, not time (1 parsec = 3.26 light-years), in the Expanded Universe, it is explained that the Kessel Run was an eighteen parsec route used by contrabandists to avoid the Galactic Empire's controls, in a sector of space hard to navigate, due to several black holes in the path, and Han made an alternate route.
When deciding what to do with Phasma after lowering the Starkiller's shields, Han Solo asks if there is a trash compactor nearby to hold her, a reference to the escape from the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
When Luke appears, it continues the tradition of at least one "Skywalker" character appearing in each movie's closing shot before the credits. Anakin appears in Episodes I and II. Luke appears as a baby in Episode III, later as an adult (with Leia) in Episodes IV, V, and VI.
Throughout the movie, three major times, Carrie Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, is seen. The first is just behind Carrie when Han and Leia reunite for the first time in this movie. The second is when the Resistance is fighting Starkiller Base, and the First Order's fleets come out. The scene cuts back to the Resistance's headquarters, where Billie Lourd says "Are you seeing this?" The third major time is at the end when Rey leaves in the Millennium Falcon with Chewie and R2-D2, and BB-8 and the crowd of Resistance people are waving goodbye and cheering. You can see Billie Lourd slightly to the right of Carrie Fisher and in the front row of the crowd.
The New York Daily News generated some contoversy when an edition of their comic strip Between The Lines leaked a spoiler about Han's death. The strip was published in their December 16, 2015 issue, a day before the film's theatrical release.
There are distinctive landscapes used in this film that pay homage to episodes IV, V, and VI. On Jakku where Rey lives, there is an expansive sandy desert just like the desert young Luke grew up in on Tatooine. Then on Starkiller Base, the harsh, cold, snow-covered features similar to that of Hoth. Lastly, the lush forests, in which Kylo Ren confronts Rey and Finn, bears a similarity to the forest moon of Endor, home of the Ewoks.
Contrary to popular opinion, Harrison Ford stated in an Entertainment Weekly November 2015 interview, that he was happy Lucas didn't listen to his request to be martyred in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). He was very glad to be back on set of a new Star Wars film. Interestingly, in the making of segments of this movie, Harrison Ford is careful in admitting the character's death moves the story forward, but does not confirm or deny making cameo appearances in the future films. Possibly a ghost brought back by Luke Skywalker.
During the final battle of the film, in which Kylo Ren tries using the Force to obtain Luke Skywalker's lightsaber and Rey manages to do so instead, a "new" rendition of the Force Theme is heard as Rey claims the weapon. The piece that plays here is, in fact, a track from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)'s soundtrack called "Burning Homestead", which was originally played during the scene where Luke finds that his aunt and uncle have been murdered by the Empire. Only a fifteen second segment of the three minute track is actually used, and it is spliced in with a track from the film's official soundtrack, "The Ways of the Force", which incorporates the Force theme multiple times as well.
Chewbacca rescues Rey and Finn at the end of the last battle. This is the only time he ever sits in the pilot's seat and unambiguously flies the Falcon as the main pilot. Prior to this, he has always sat in the co-pilot's chair with either Han, Leia, or Lando at the pilot controls.
(At around twenty-five minutes) Kylo Ren and General Hux argue about the First Order Stormtroopers, and Ren remarks that Supreme Leader Snoke should use a clone army. That was written as a nod to the past. In the prequel trilogy, it was revealed that the Imperial Stormtroopers were clones of bounty hunter Jango Fett, and that they were apart of Supreme Chancellor (Later Emperor) Palpatine's evil plot to rule the galaxy and slay the Jedi, and Palpatine ordered the clone troopers to betray and eliminate the Jedi, and when Palpatine reorganized the Republic, and formed the evil Galactic Empire, and proclaimed himself as Emperor, the clone troopers became Imperial Stormtroopers.
The Millennium Falcon is actually visible very briefly before the "the garbage will do" quote. As Rey and Finn run out of the desert compound, the camera pans very quickly to their right, showing the Falcon in passing.
During their arrival on Starkiller Base, Finn says they'll stop the First Order base by using the Force. Han Solo angrily says the Force doesn't work like that. This a reference to Star Wars: Rebels (2014), where Zeb would often mock Ezra telling him to use the Force to get out of a sticky situation with Ezra replying it doesn't work like that.
There are actually two female Stormtroopers in this movie. Firstly, there is Captain Phasma, of whom everyone is aware. But, there is also a second seen and heard speaking to Kylo Ren, when they are searching for Rey on Starkiller Base.
Rey (Daisy Ridley) is very much a mysterious character. We don't know much about the character or her origins. It is established in the film she had been abandoned on Jakku as a 9 year old girl and lives and works on Jakku as a desert scavenger and that she is a capable fighter and a capable pilot and she is strong in the force.
As a former Jedi apprentice who turned to the Dark Side, Kylo Ren has obvious parallels to his grandfather, Darth Vader. His father, Han Solo, had some parallels to Anakin Sykwalker as portrayed in the prequel trilogy. Both are pilots whose talents come in handy when a Jedi Master and his apprentice (Qui-Gon & Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan & Luke) need to get off Tattooine in order to help the heroine (Queen Amidala, Princess Leia). Both end up falling in love with that heroine. Han is captured, frozen, and taken away on a floating carbonite slab, while Anakin Skywalker is taken into his life-changing surgery in a floating medical capsule. Both men have to be rescued by Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
When Rey and Finn are being pursued by the TIE fighters, the Falcon's lower gun turret becomes stuck in the forward position, but later on, it appears to be back in its regular position. However, as the Falcon flattens out of its dive after downing the last TIE, the turret can be seen clipping a piece of wreckage on the ground, which frees it.
Some people query why Han said he didn't believe in the existence of the Jedi and the Force, even though he was in Episodes IV, V, and VI, he is of course referring to the time before he met Luke and Obi-wan. In one of his first interactions with Obi-wan, he says "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side." His time with Luke has obviously changed his views, and this is what, to which he is referring, in this movie.
When Han Solo and Chewbacca split up to plant explosive charges on Starkiller Base, each device is outfitted with a magnet to attach to a steel beam, a red light to indicate the charge is activated and each can be detonated by a remote switch. The exact same explosive device is used by Ethan Hunt when rescuing Lindsey Farris in Mission: Impossible III (2006).
Mark Hamill receives second billing, despite only being in one short scene with no dialogue at the end of the film (as a result of having the majority of his scenes cut). Also, the first one after the original three stars is the villain (Adam Driver), instead of the protagonist that follows (Daisy Ridley). This is because billing is decided on star power. Mark Hamill, despite his limited screentime was the star of the original trilogy, and Adam Driver was the best known actor of the new cast. Whereas for Daisy Ridley, this is her motion picture debut.
When R2-D2 awakens from his long dream, he shows an almost full Galaxy's map, which is completed by BB-8. This is the second time that a Star Wars movie shows a galactic starchart after Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002).
Adam Driver who plays Han Solo's son, previously starred together with Oscar Isaac in the Coen Brothers movie Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). Another Coen Brothers alumnus, Alden Ehrenreich (from Hail, Caesar! (2016)), is slated to play a younger Han Solo in the planned Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film (2018).
It has been theorized by a fan online that Rey could be one of Luke Skywalker's Jedi pupils and that when Ben Solo betrayed Luke Skywalker and became Kylo Ren and slew the new generation of Jedi, Luke decided to take Rey to Jakku, so Kylo Ren and Snoke could not find her and Luke Skywalker erased Rey's memories and after dropping Rey off on Jakku, Luke Skywalker went to Ahch-To and began his exile.
After Han Solo is killed by Kylo Ren, due to disturbance in the force, Leia makes the same facial expressions as master Yoda after the execution of order 66, when he is on command tower with wookies Chewbacca and Tarfful on planet Kashykk in Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (2005).