The Force Awakens Breaks Chinese Record With $53 Million On Debut Day

Despite analysts worrying about an unpredictable market, Star Wars The Force Awakens debut in China yesterday was a success taking in $53 Million.

China is the last major market to show the new Star Wars movie. Its opening ranks as the best Saturday or Sunday debut ever in China.

Scavenger Rey in The Force Awakens
Scavenger Rey in The Force Awakens

This should please many fans around the world who saw China as the movie’s big chance to take the all-time worldwide grossing movie crown from Avatar.

Internationally, “The Force Awakens” picked up another $104.3 million this weekend, bringing its worldwide haul to a massive $1.73 billion. It is now the third highest-grossing movie in history, shooting past “Jurassic World’s” $1.67 billion global gross, with only Titanic and Avatar standing in the way of global domination.

Disney has invested heavily in “Star Wars,” plunking down more than $4 billion in 2012 for rights to Lucasfilm, the company behind the franchise. It has plans to not only create a new trilogy of films, but also to launch a series of standalone spinoffs. Given that China is the second-biggest source of ticket sales in the world and is expected to bypass the U.S. as the world’s top film market, success in the country is critical.

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Anticipation for “The Force Awakens” was always fevered. More than a decade separated director J.J. Abrams’ update on the saga of Jedi knights and shadowy adherents of the Dark Side and the George Lucas prequels that proceeded them. However, China had no strong ties to the “Star Wars” franchise — a gap in their pop culture knowledge that Disney had to fill.

To that end, the studio’s campaign emphasized the film’s outer space setting and action-heavy plot. It also fanned some Middle Kingdom excitement by partnering with local pop star and social media icon Lu Han as a brand ambassador. Lu crafted an “Inner Force” music video earlier this month that served as an introduction to the space opera mythology.

“It shows that no one is better at building a brand than Disney,” said Greg Foster, CEO of Imax Entertainment.

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Is The Force Awakens a rip-off? J.J. Abrams responds…

Although most Star Wars fans gave Episode VII the thumbs-up, there is a section of fans that feel The Force Awakens mirrored Episode IV A New Hope far too closely.

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Samuel L. Jackson takes a swipe at The Force Awakens

The actor who played Mace Windu has a muted opinion of new Star Wars movie The Force Awakens

While promoting The Hateful Eight on Popcorn with Peter Travers, Samuel L. Jackson was asked what he thought of the new Star Wars Movie.

Jackson’s opinion was rather underwhelming and conflicted with the current popular opinion.

“It’s done in the spirit of the Star Wars films.”

Jackson said in a muted way with a grin on his face.

“It’s adventuresome and exciting, in a way…”

Jackson then made a clear potshot at the younger stars of The Force Awakens…

“I think that the kids need to go to Lightsaber Fight School, but…!”

Mace Windu confronts Jango Fett in Attack Of The Clones
Mace Windu confronts Jango Fett in Attack Of The Clones

Well, Jackson may have a point, then we have two more Star Wars movies to have some hopefully awesome fight scenes.

I wonder if he will get criticism from fans, seeing as Mace Windu was probably not the greatest Star Wars character to feature so prominently.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, were the fight scenes in The Force Awakens lame?

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Boba Fett voice actor Jason Wingreen dies

Jason Wingreen, who provided the original Boba Fett voice for the famous Star Wars bounty hunter, has died aged 95.

His son Ned told the Hollywood Reporter he died at his home in Los Angeles on Christmas Day.

Darth Vader and Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back
Darth Vader and Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back

Wingreen provided the bounty hunter Boba Fett’s voice in The Empire Strikes Back.

Boba Fett was physically played by English actor Jeremy Bulloch.

Jason Wingreen Boba Fett Actor (voice)
Jason Wingreen Boba Fett Actor (voice)

The Boba Fett actor only had four lines of dialogue but the character has become a fan favorite and even has his own fan club.

One of his famous menacing lines was

“Put Captain Solo in the cargo hold.”

 

The Boba Fett character had no lines in either Return of the Jedi, or Star Wars Special Edition.

Fett instructs an Imperial officer where to store his frozen prisoner Han Solo
Fett instructs an Imperial officer where to store his frozen prisoner Han Solo

But in 2004 when director George Lucas re-released the original trilogy (again, this time on bluray), Wingreen’s Boba Fett voice was replaced by actor Temuera Morrison, who played Boba’s father, Jango Fett, in the prequel films.

The Boba Fett actor also played Harry the barkeeper in the US sitcoms All in the Family and Archie Bunker’s Place between 1976 and 1983.

Wingreen also appeared in many US TV series. He was a regular on The Untouchables and appeared in the original Twilight Zone and Star Trek series.

He also had a recurring role in Matlock and appeared in Mission: Impossible, Ironside, Kojak, Dr Kildare, The Fugitive, The Man from UNCLE and Seinfeld.
The physical Boba Fett actor

Although he didn’t provide the voice, Jeremy Bulloch played the physical role in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. British actor Bulloch’s acting career now spans across over 50 years appearing in many Movies and British TV productions.

Boba Fett Actor
Jeremy Bulloch Boba Fett Actor

As well as playing the infamous bounty hunter, Bulloch has also appeared in two episodes of Doctor Who and Robin of Sherwood. Bulloch starred alongside Cliff Richard in the 1962 musical Summer Holiday, and even played minor roles in 3 James Bond movies, 2 of which he played Q’s assistant Smithers.

More recently, Bulloch got to play a cameo role in Revenge of the Sith as Captain Colton, alongside Captain Antilles on board the Alderaan cruiser, the Sundered Heart.

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George Lucas Apologizes For Comparing Disney To White Slavers

Lucas has now back-peddled after recently saying that selling Star Wars was like selling his kids to white slavers.

At its heart Star Wars is a dramatic soap opera that happens to be set in space.  The story of the original trilogy focused on the Skywalker family with shocking relation revelations in the second and third films.

But another Star Wars family drama is unfolding in real life centered on the creator George Lucas.

George Lucas Apologizes
George Lucas Apologizes

Lucas recently said that selling off the Star Wars movies was like a ‘break-up’ which was ‘very, very hard.’.  The film maker said recently:

‘People don’t actually realize it’s actually a soap opera and it’s all about family problems – it’s not about spaceships,’

‘They decided they were going to do their own thing. They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway – but if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble, because they’re not going to do what I want them to do.

‘And I don’t have the control to do that anymore, and all I would do is muck everything up,’ he said. ‘And so I said, “OK, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way”.’

Lucas said that Disney were more concerned with making a ‘retro’ movie to please the fans than staying true to his sci-fi ‘soap opera’.

Clearly bitter about Disney not wanting his input with the new movies, in an interview published on Christmas Day Lucas compared selling Star Wars to Disney for $4billion to selling his kids to white slavers.

Making the 'white slavers' comment last week
Making the ‘white slavers’ comment last week

He has now suddenly backtracked and made this contrasting statement yesterday :

‘I have been working with Disney for 40 years and chose them as the custodians of Star Wars because of my great respect for the company and Bob Iger’s leadership,’

‘Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise. I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks.’

‘Most of all I’m blown away with the record breaking blockbuster success of the new movie and am very proud of JJ and Kathy.’

It is sad to see the great film-maker struggling with his break-up in his own way :

‘When you break up with somebody the first rule is no phone calls,’ he said. ‘Every time you do something like that you’re opening the old wounds again you have to just put it behind you. And it’s very, very, very hard to do.’

‘These are my kids, I loved them. I created them. I’m very intimately involved with them.’

The future of Star Wars will not involve George Lucas
The future of Star Wars will not involve George Lucas

Apart from the ‘white slavers’ comment, Lucas also gave other reasons for why he sold Star Wars :

‘I’m 70, I don’t know if I’ll be here when I’m 80,’

After explaining that it takes 10 years to make a trilogy ‘properly’, he also resented fans criticism of the prequels :

‘You go to make a movie and all you do is get criticized. And it’s not much fun,’ Lucas told Vanity Fair. ‘You can’t experiment.’

At the time of writing, The Force Awakens is already the best performing Star Wars movie at the box office and is currently 8th in the all-time global box-office takings.

 

 

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Lawrence Kasdan Says Star Wars Episode 8 Will Be A Weird Thing

According to Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, Episode VIII will be like no other Star Wars film.

Although most people will agree The Force Awakens was a lot of fun, Episode 7 actually had one main purpose.

Disney wanted to show the fans that they had heard their cries about the tone and realism shown in the original trilogy but somewhat lacking in the prequels.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan on set. (David James / Lucasfilm)

But now with a vague structure of a story in place, the stage is set for Rian Johnson to do whatever the hell he wants when he directs and writes Episode 8 and continues to write for Episode 9.

Disney must have a lot of confidence in Rian to sign him up to write the screenplay for Episodes 8 and 9.

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Speaking to the LA Times, long-serving Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who returned for The Force Awakens, is excited at the prospect of Johnson being at the helm.

“These movies will all be so different, Rian Johnson is a friend of mine — he’s going to make some weird thing.”

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Episode VIII writer/director and Episode IX writer Rian Johnson (Picture: Getty)

“If you’ve seen Rian’s work, you know it’s not going be like anything that’s ever been in Star Wars. “You couldn’t have three more different people than J.J., Rian and Colin [Trevorrow, Episode IX director].”

 Johnson directed Looper and also made the cult hit movie Brick.

 Kasdan also spoke about the Star Wars Anthology movies the first of which Rogue One is released December 2016.

“Those movies will have the Star Wars saga as their basis, but everything else will be different. Then Phil Lord and Chris Miller are going to make the Han Solo film and I can’t guess what that will be like — and I’m writing it!”

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The Force Awakens Breaks Domestic and Global Records For Debut Weekend

When Star Wars The Force Awakens hit $100 Million it was still jumping to Hyperspace!

JJ Abrams Episode VII blockbuster only took 19 hours to reach domestic box office takings of $100m, finally reaching $247m by the end of the weekend breaking the domestic record previously held by Jurassic World.

The movie was shown in 4,134 cinemas giving it a crazy $59,748 per-screen-average.

Star Wars The Force Awakens TV spot 4
Star Wars The Force Awakens TV spot 4

For December these figures are even more crazy, the prior biggest debut for this month of the year was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with $84m

But wait, the force is even stronger with this one…

Due to these domestic numbers being higher than anticipated, Disney have suggested to Bloomberg that Global weekend takings will likely be $528m breaking Jurassic World’s global record of $524.9m.

What makes this global announcement even more impressive, is that The Force Awakens is not released in China until January 9th, the second biggest movie country!

Poe Dameron Flying An Xwing
Poe Dameron Flying An Xwing

But the new sequel Star Wars movie is not quite done yet.

It’s going to be close, but The Force Awakens now has Avatar in it’s sights as it attempts to break the $760.5m domestic total.

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Disney must be extremely pleased.  Disney chief Bob Iger said :

“ ‘Star Wars,’ I’ve said a number of times, I think is probably the most valuable, maybe even the most important mythology created in our time,”

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Both Alec Guiness and Ewan McGregor are heard in The Force Awakens

By a stroke of luck both Star Wars Obi Wan Kenobi actors are heard in Episode VII The Force Awakens.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you might want to stop reading now.

When Rey finds Luke Skywalker’s lost lightsaber a brief dream sequence occurs revealing several images and voices.

One such voice at the the end of the sequence says “Rey… these are your first steps.”.

The Star Wars Obi Wan Kenobi actor Ewan McGregor was asked to come in to the studio and record the line, explained JJ Abrams to Entertainment Weekly.

“Here’s the cool part. We asked Ewan McGregor to come in and do the line. And he was awesome and we were very grateful. He was incredibly sweet and handsome, and all that stuff. Then he rode off on his motorcycle. Literally the coolest voice over actor ever.”

Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi
Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi

But the first word ‘Rey’ was actually voiced by Alec Guiness, which surprised JJ Abrams.

“I said, ‘That’s cool, is that the thing from Ewan McGregor?’ He said ‘No, we took a line from Alec Guinness saying ‘Afraid.’ They cut it, and you hear the performance – he’s saying it the way I would have begged Alec Guinness to have said it. It is so crazy perfect. So when you hear Obi-Wan talk to Rey it is both Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor doing the voice.”

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Even Frank Oz was called in to record a line for Yoda, but in the end they chose a recording they already had.

“He was incredibly generous and came in to Bad Robot, where we had a recording area, and he was doing Yoda, saying a number of lines we gave to him. This whole experience has been one outrageous moment after another. Just watching Frank Oz, you look at him and talk to him and his voice is very deep. I don’t know why I would have thought he sounded like Miss Piggy!”

Rey saves BB-8 from being scavenged
Rey saves BB-8 from being scavenged

Talking of Rey’s dream scene, it was also felt that Rey’s past should not be uncovered in The Force Awakens and is perhaps a job for Episode VIII joked Lawrence Kasdan:

“We’re hoping Rian Johnson can figure that out,” Kasdan joked. “We were really stymied!”

 

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Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver Dresses As A Stormtrooper For School Run

Embarrassing Dad Jamie Oliver dressed up in full Stormtrooper gear as he walked his two daughters to school yesterday.

The cheeky chef surprised his two daughters Poppy and Daisy as they walked down the street to school in London.

The father of four exchanged his chefs whites, for full Stromtrooper battle-armour from the Galactic Empire era though, not the new First Order as seen in Star Wars The Force Awakens.

Jamie posted a picture on Instagram saying “Embarrassing Dad !!! Haha.”

Embarrassing Dad, Jamie Oliver as a Stormtrooper
Embarrassing Dad, Jamie Oliver as a Stormtrooper

It’s not the first time the chef has proved he’s a massive Star Wars fan.

Back in September he threw his son Buddy a brilliant Star Wars-themed 5th birthday party, digging out his Stormtrooper outfit once again.

Jamie, married to wife Jools, recently admitted he was “in denial” about turning the big 4-0 in May. So much so, he delayed his birthday party for six months.

“Now I’m just an embarrassing dad. I don’t think that I went into my 40s in a great way. I was in a little bit of denial, I didn’t like it too much. I struggled with the party, I did it six months later.”

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Jamie also said he is looking forward to spending Christmas with his family and despite currently lobbying for a ‘sugar tax’ in the UK, insisted he is letting his children have a few sweets over the festive season.

“Food is obviously a big deal at home, we’ve always been around it, we get amongst it, I cook everything at home so it’s the time of year when you’ve got friends and family and kids. It’s one big dinner party.”

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First Reviews Of The Force Awakens Are Glowing! (No Spoilers)

The embargo for reviews was lifted today on Star Wars The Force Awakens, and they are almost all VERY POSITIVE!

Thank goodness for that, we can breathe a sigh of relief, phew!

Some have called the new Star Wars movie “a triumph” and “a classic”.

UK newspapers seemed very happy with the movie:

The Daily Mail’s Brian Viner described The Force Awakens as “a triumph of escapism and the most exhilarating film yet in this mighty franchise”.

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The Times critic Kate Muir wrote: “Adults will be floored by tearful nostalgia because this is a classic. “The sequel – the seventh movie in the Star Wars franchise – is “a humongous piece of cinema”, said Kate. She went on to describe Abrams as “a better action director” than Star Wars creator George Lucas, concluding that the film was “exactly what we were hoping for”.

Finn and Solo on a mission
Finn and Solo on a mission

The “real star of the show”, declared Brian Viner from The Daily Mail, was British actress Daisy Ridley, whose performance as scavenger Rey should “send her career into orbit”.

Christopher Hooton in the Independent gave the film four stars and said: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens is actually probably objectively the best Star Wars yet, and would be held up as untouchable had it come first.”

Poe Dameron in flight
Poe Dameron in flight

The New York Times said the “big news about Star Wars: The Force Awakens is – spoiler alert – that it’s good!”.

“Despite the pre-release hype, it won’t save the world, not even Hollywood, but it seamlessly balances cosy favourites – Harrison Ford, ladies and gentlemen – and new kinetic wows along with some of the niceties that went missing as the series grew into a phenomenon, most crucially a scale and a sensibility that is rooted in the human,” Manohla Dargis said.

 

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