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.
The Han Solo spin-off film is currently in production for release in 2018. Although we are still a long way from having any details of the storyline, we do know that we will see a young Han Solo in action.
So far four actors have been confirmed, so let's take a look at our new Han Solo and the people who will be joining everybody's favourite scoundrel.
Alden Ehrenreich - Han Solo
Taking up the mantle of the eponymous smuggler, Han Solo is the young Californian actor Alden Ehrenreich. He was chosen after a lengthy casting period that aimed to find an actor who could capture the spirit of the character made famous by Harrison Ford.
Ehrenreich was first discovered by Steven Spielberg, which led to several television roles before he had his big screen debut in Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro. He later went on to star in Beautiful Creatures, Stoker, and the Coen brothers comedy Hail, Caesar!
On 5 May 2015 he was confirmed as being cast in the lead role of a young Han Solo in the second of the Star Wars spin-off movies.
Donald Glover - Lando Calrissian
Joining Han Solo as the irrepressible Lando Calrissian is Donald Glover, who has already had a varied career in entertainment having made a name for himself in almost every avenue of show business.
Glover has written for NBC comedy 30 Rock and had an acting role in Community. He is also due to appear in Marvel's Spider-man: Homecoming superhero reboot. Incidentally, Stan Lee supported Glover for the lead role in Sony's The Amazing Spider-man.
Glover has also released several rap albums as Childish Gambino, and also DJs and produces electronic music under the name of mcDJ.
On 21 October 2016 he was confirmed as being cast as Lando Calrissian in the Han Solo movie.
Playing an unknown role in the Han Solo movie is Emilia Clarke, who shot to fame as Danaerys Targaryen in HBO's television adaption of Game of Thrones.
Clarke recently starred as Sarah Connor in 2015's Terminator: Genisys, and had the lead role in the 2016 worldwide success Me before You. She was also voted Sexiest Woman Alive by Esquire in 2015.
In November 2016 she was confirmed as part of the Han Solo movie's cast, although no details have been released about the type of role she has.
Han Solo's mentor will be played by Woody Harrelson, who should be a stranger to nobody with his impressive list of acting credits since the 1980s which include Zombieland, The Hunger Games, and Now You See Me. His first role was as the bartender in the classic television comedy Cheers.
Outside of acting, he is a vegan, environmentalist, and also considers himself an anarchist.
He was confirmed for the Han Solo movie in early January 2017, and has said in interviews that his character will be a criminal as well as Han Solo's mentor.
So a few days ago, ILM released a link to their portfolio of concept art drafted up for The Force Awakens.
It's really quite interesting to see how closely the film actually got to these concepts... and which ones didn't.
Plus, the artwork is just freaking beautiful.