Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is the seventh installment in George Lucas' space opera film series Star Wars and the first title in its sequel trilogy released on December 18th, 2015.
On October 30th, 2012, The Walt Disney Company announced in a press release that it had acquired the production company Lucasfilms for $4.05 billion, along with a plan to produce a new Star Wars trilogy with the first installment set for release in 2015. After the acquisition the question of who would be chosen to direct the next Star Wars sequel took hold in the Hollywood news and gossip circuit (shown below, left). Among the rumored contenders for the job included JJ Abrams (Star Trek), Ben Affleck (Argo), Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class), Colin Treverrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) and Joss Whedon (Marvel's The Avengers). On November 1st, IGN released a parody of Disney executives screening candidates for a shortlist of potential directors (shown below, right).
On January 24th, 2013, the Hollywood news site The Wrap reported that Star Wars: Episode VII will be directed by J.J. Abrams, a veteran director and TV producer known for directing the rebooted Star Trek. Following the Abrams announcement many fans on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, were various Star Wars and Star Trek fans reacted with reserved skepticism and a variety of photoshopped parodies, including commentaries on Abrams' lens flare overkill in the Star Trek film as well as crossover artworks featuring characters from both franchises.
On April 29th, 2014, the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII was announced on the official Star Wars website, including Daisy Ridley, Andy Serkis, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Max von Sydow, Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac. Additionally, the original Star Wars cast members Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford were set to appear in the film. The film was also given a release date of December 18th, 2015.
On November 6th, 2014, the official Twitter account of Star Wars announced the conclusion of principal photography for the upcoming seventh installation of the franchise, along with an image of the presumably official title slate that reads "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
In less than six hours, the tweet garnered more than 17,000 retweets and 9,000 favorites, while prompting a series of fan suggestions for alternative titles under the hashtag #RejectedStarWarsTitles.
The film premiered in Los Angeles on December 14th, 2015, and was released nationwide on December 18th, 2015. The marketing campaign created by Disney to support the film was one of the largest ever, purportedly beating the record set by Minions earlier in 2015. Combined with the massive amount of merchandising, the film sold over $100 million tickets in advance of the opening, and in the opening weekend the film broke all worldwide box office records by selling over $517 million in tickets.
In addition to the marketing push which featured many notable television appearances by cast members, like one by Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia, on Good Morning America (below left) President Barack Obama held a screening at the White House for families who had lost a member in war; stormtroopers appeared at the press conference.
Facebook used its profile picture editing tool, previously deployed for the Supreme Court Gay Marriage Decision and the 2015 Paris Attacks, to allow people to modify their profile pictures to add a lightsaber. Users could choose between the red lightsaber of the character Kylo Ren or the blue lightsaber of the character Finn. Facebook does not release data on how many people used the tools the change their profile pictures, but more than 27,000 people liked the photo announcing the ability.
The critical consensus regarding the film was that it was a success in the way the previous Star Wars prequels had not been. The Rotten Tomatoes critic's score was 95% and the audience score was 92%; their consensus was "Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series' former glory while injecting it with renewed energy." On Metacritic, the film scored 81/100 from critics and a 75/100 from users; the negative reviews on Metacritic included fans who were disappointed and felt pandered to, and some who believed that the film had "Social Justice Warrior ":https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/social-justice-warrior connotations. 
On October 31st, 2012, the /r/StarWarsLeaks subreddit was launched for discussions about the upcoming Disney Star Wars films. The same day, pages for the upcoming film were created on the on the Disney and Star Wars wikis. On December 30th, a Facebook page titled "Star Wars Episode 7" was created, garnering upwards of 474,000 likes in the next three years. On November 28th, 2014, the first teaser trailer was released on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (shown below, left). On April 16th, 2015, a second teaser was released (shown below, right).
On October 19th, 2015, the official trailer was released on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (shown below).
Crossguard Lightsaber is the fictional weapon wielded by the Force Awakens character Kylo Ren, which projects three beams of bright energy from a metal hilt, resembling a sword with a crossguard. After the lightsaber was revealed in a 2014 teaser trailer, the design became a subject of parody for its perceived impracticality.
#BlackStormTrooper refers to the controversy surrounding the casting of British actor John Boyega as a Stormtrooper in The Force Awakens following his appearance in the 2014 teaser trailer.
#BoycottStarWarsVII is a Twitter hashtag ostensibly promoting a boycott of the The Force Awakens for being racist toward whites. While the hashtag was widely reported by Internet news media as being an authentic campaign against the movie, many have speculated that it was a hoax campaign engineered to cause widespread outrage.
The Force Awakens Poster Parodies
The Force Awakens Poster Parodies are a series of photoshopped edits of the promotional poster for The Force Awakens.
Jar Jar Binks Sith Lord Theory
The Jar Jar Binks Sith Lord Theory refers to a fan rumor from before the release of the film. On October 30th, 2015, Redditor Lumpawarroo submitted a post to the /r/StarWars proposing that Binks is actually a "trained Force user" and "Sith collaborator" who would be revealed as an antagonist in the upcoming film The Force Awakens. The theory connects specific events in the prequel trilogy to make the case that Binks was working with Darth Sidious. Within two months, the post gained over 37,130 votes (98% upvoted) and 6,500 comments. Several YouTubers subsequently created videos explaining the theory (shown below). On December 7th, The Force Awakens producer Kathleen Kennedy confirmed in a news conference that Binks would not appear in the upcoming film.
 CNBC – 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' breaks presale records
 Forbes – 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Will Shatter Box Office Records
 The Walt Disney Company – DISNEY TO ACQUIRE LUCASFILM LTD.
 3news – Disney purchases Lucasfilm, announces new Star Wars
 The Hollywood Reporter – 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Cast Revealed
 The Wrap – JJ Abrams Set to Direct Next Star Wars Film
 Reddit – /r/StarWarsLeaks
 Wikia – Star Wars – The Force Awakens
 Wikia – Star Wars The Force Awakens
 Facebook – Star Wars Episode 7
 Vox – Star Wars will make its real money in the mall, not the cinema
 New York Times – ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Shatters Box Office Records
 Rotten Tomatoes – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
 Metacritic – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
 Metacritic – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens: negative reviews
 Facebook – Star Wars Movies' Post
 Twitter – @StarWars' Tweet
Dec 18, 2015 at 05:47AM EST
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