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54 Facts About Star Wars: The Force Awakens

May the 4th Be With You: 54 Facts About ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

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A scene from ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’

The seeds of Star Wars Day were planted thanks to a pun celebrating Margaret Thatcher’s election victory in 1979 — “May the Fourth Be With You” — but now even Lucasfilm and its parent company, the Walt Disney Co., have picked up on the fun fans have celebrated for more than three decades.

This year marks a very special Star Wars Day as the celebration comes a mere seven months before the release of a new film in the “Star Wars” franchise, “The Force Awakens.” To mark this jubilant occasion, Speakeasy compiled 54 (May 4 … 5/4 … get it?) facts about the seventh entry in the series George Lucas kicked off back in May of 1977.

Enjoy, and may the fourth be with you — always.

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1. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is the seventh episode in the cinematic saga of the Skywalker family.

2. It is the first “Star Wars” episode since “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” which was released in 2005.

3. However, it is a sequel to “Return of the Jedi,” which was released in 1983.

4. It takes place several decades after the end of “Return of the Jedi.”

5. “The Force Awakens” reunites original “Star Wars” cast members Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca).

From ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’

6. The lovable droid R2D2 will also return.

7. The three leads of the film, however, are Daisy Ridley (Rey, a ship-parts scavenger), John Boyega (Finn, a possible stormtrooper) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron, an X-wing pilot).

8. The cast also includes Adam Driver (“Girls”), Gwendoline Christie (“Game of Thrones”), Andy Serkis (“The Hobbit” films), Domhnall Gleeson (“Ex Machina”), Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”) and Max Von Sydow (“The Exorcist”).

9. John Williams, who scored the previous six “Star Wars” films, has returned to score “The Force Awakens.”

10. The film’s director, J.J. Abrams, had also directed the two latest “Star Trek” films.

11. Abrams was more of a “Star Wars” fan growing up.

12. “The Force Awakens” is the third “Star Wars” film not directed by George Lucas.

13. Lucas had directed the original “Star Wars” in 1977 and the three prequels, which were released from 1999 through 2005.

John Boyega in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’

14. Irvin Kershner directed “The Empire Strikes Back,” and Richard Marquand directed “Return of the Jedi.”

15. “The Force Awakens” introduces a new droid character named BB-8.

16. BB-8 rolls along like a soccer ball, while a disc-like headpiece stays in place.

17. The filmmakers achieved this using practical effects, which they displayed at Star Wars Celebration last month.

18. Abrams wrote the screenplay for “The Force Awakens” with Lawrence Kasdan, whose previous credits include “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Return of the Jedi,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Big Chill.”

19. Michael Arndt, who won an Oscar for writing the screenplay for “Little Miss Sunshine,” was once on board to write the Episode VII screenplay, but he was replaced by Kasdan.

20. Abrams has said that he was reluctant to make the movie, but Kathleen Kennedy talked him into it.

Daisy Ridley in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’

21. Abrams likened the entire “Star Wars” story to Hollywood westerns, citing the need for “John Ford landscapes.”

22. It will be the first Abrams movie that doesn’t include a score by Michael Giacchino.

23. Kennedy, one of the film’s producers, is also the president of Lucasfilm.

24. “The Force Awakens” is the first “Star Wars” film since Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012.

25. Oscar Isaac used to dress up as a gonk droid when he would attend “Star Wars” movie openings.

26. The apparent villain of “The Force Awakens” is named Kylo Ren.

27. Kylo Ren’s lightsaber bears the signature red beam of a Sith lord, along with two smaller beams that seem to act as a hilt.

From ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’

28. The desert planet seen in both teaser trailers for “The Force Awakens” is not Tatooine, the home planet of Anakin and Luke Skywalker.

29. On the contrary, the planet is called Jakku, a fact revealed at Star Wars Celebration last month.

30. The first teaser for “The Force Awakens” is nearly 90 seconds long, featuring an ominous voiceover from Andy Serkis.

31. It includes very brief glimpses of Boyega, Ridley and Isaac in action, along with BB-8 and the mysterious Kylo Ren, who is apparently played by Driver.

32. It concludes with a money shot of the Millennium Falcon swooping through the air over the sands of Jakku.

33. The second teaser trailer, which debuted at Star Wars Celebration, is nearly two minutes long.

34. Mark Hamill provides the narration on the second trailer, hinting at another Skywalker family member being strong in the Force.

An image from ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’

35. The trailer features much more detail than the first, including cool shots of Kylo Ren, a super stormtrooper of some sort, a wrecked Imperial Star Destroyer and the skull of Darth Vader.

36. The biggest and best detail, however, is a shot of Han Solo and Chewie, which caps the trailer.

37. Harrison Ford was injured on the set of “The Force Awakens” last June.

38. Ford’s injury disrupted the production schedule for a time, but he eventually returned.

39. “The Force Awakens” will open Dec. 18 this year.

40. “The Force Awakens” will be the first “Star Wars” movie not to be released in May.

41. “The Force Awakens” is the first film of a new trilogy of films in the Skywalker saga.

42. The second film, Episode VIII, will be written and directed by Rian Johnson (“Looper”).

43. Episode VIII is scheduled to be released May 26, 2017, a day after the 40th anniversary of the first “Star Wars” film’s release.

44. Shooting locations for “The Force Awakens” included Pinewood Studios in England and the desert near Abu Dhabi.

BB-8 in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’

45. Even though the film takes places about 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi,” elements of the Galactic Empire remain.

46. Surprisingly, elements of the Sith may remain, too, even though Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine both died in “Return of the Jedi.”

47. Otherwise, very few details of the plot have been made available.

48. However, Ridley says her character meets up with Boyega’s character, and they take off on an adventure.

49. Isaac said his character has been given a mission by a “certain princess.”

50. “The Force Awakens” doesn’t have a direct connection to the other standalone anthology “Star Wars” films Lucasfilm has planned.

51. The first such standalone film,”Rogue One,” will be directed by Gareth Edwards and is pegged for a December 2016 release.

52. The plot of “Rogue One” will focus on the efforts to steal the plans to the first Death Star as seen in the original “Star Wars.”

53. “Fantastic Four” director Josh Trank had been slated to direct another upcoming standalone film, but he dropped out last week.

54. “The Force Awakens” is going to make a lot of money.

From ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’

 

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