Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga. Production was announced by George Lucas in 2011, years after initially claiming that the story of Star Wars ended with Return of the Jedi. In 2012 Lucas sold Lucasfilm, along with the entire Star Wars franchise, to The Walt Disney Company who then assembled a new team to rework Episode VII to their own design. This marks the start of a new trilogy of Star Wars movies, and effectively reboots the franchise by casting off the old Star Wars Expanded Universe, opening the doors for new stories to take place in various media.
The film was widely anticipated and went on to break several box office records, and is currently the third highest grossing film of all time, behind Avatar and Titanic (unadjusted for inflation, as of February 2016). It won a Bafta for Best Special Visual Effects at the 2016 British Academy Film Awards, and was the American Film Institute's Movie of the Year for 2015.
The Force Awakens is set roughly 30 years after the end of Return of the Jedi and follows new heroes Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron, as they assist the the Resistance in the fight against the evil forces of the First Order, which has risen from the ashes of the defeated Galactic Empire.
Daisy Ridley, the actress who portrays Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars Episode VIII has revealed that she knows the identities of her characters parents, as she put an end to speculation that Rey's mother would be Jyn Erso from upcoming anthology film Rogue One.
There has been much speculation surrounding the Rey's parentage, and this has remained one of the unanswered mysteries of the Star Wars sequels. Additionally, director JJ Abrams added further fuel to the fire by revealing that Rey's parents are apparently not present in The Force Awakens. Abrams remained cryptic about the truth, however, stating only that "I can’t possibly say in this moment who they are. But I will say it is something that Rey thinks about, too."
This would appear to rule out the big three, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo, meaning that Rey and Kylo Ren may not be related as many fans have speculated.
Update: JJ Abrams has since clarified his statement by telling Entertainment Weekly that Rey "doesn’t discover [her parents] in Episode VII. Not that they may not already be in her world". So, it is once again open season on speculation in that area.
Despite claiming to know who Rey's parents are Ridley does not seem to think it is that big a deal anyway, instead focusing on the story of Rey finding her own place in the present. Star Wars Episode VIII is said to have a darker tone than The Force Awakens, but has not revealed whether her character will indeed become a fully-fledged Jedi after her meeting with Luke Skywalker.
Rogue One is due in cinemas 16 December 2016, with Star Wars Episode VIII releasing on 15 December 2017.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be coming to home video in April, the official website has revealed.
The film will be recieving an early release on Disney Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere digital formats on 1st April 2016, with Blu-ray and DVD versions available in stores from 5th April. The release date for the 3D version has not yet been announced, but is due later this year.
Bonus features (which may vary depending on format) include:
Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey - a behind the scense look at the making of The Force Awakens, with new footage and exclusive interviews with the cast and crew.
The Story Awakens: The Table Read - cast members reflect on the day they first came together to read the movie’s script
Building BB-8 - behind the scenes with the creators of Star Wars' newest droid
Crafting Creatures - behind the scenes with the creators of the film's new alien creatures
Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight - a closer look at the lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren
John Williams: The Seventh Symphony - the composer shares personal insights of his work on the Star Wars saga
ILM: The Visual Magic of The Force - a look into the movie's digital visual effects
Force For Change - see how the Star Wars: Force for Change initiative has united Star Wars fans all over the globe to help others
Deleted Scenes - the scenes that didn't make the final cut