Star Wars: The Force Awakens – The Complete History, Part V

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Part V: The Release

Abrams: I don’t think you can’t overstate the power of Star Wars. The narrative of that movie is brilliant: the propulsion of it, the unexpected nature of it, the way it makes you relate to two droids. It’s remarkable how many things that movie does right. It’s very easy to say that Empire has more going on aesthetically, more character depth, more revelation. But Episode IV, for me, will always be the more powerful. When we were shooting, the codename of The Force Awakens was Avco, which was the theatre in Los Angeles where I first saw Star Wars.

Kasdan: Everybody who saw it at that time, their life was changed by it. Everybody remembers the theatre they saw it in and what they felt.

Ford: It gave us an example of what can be achieved through courage and conviction and facing up to the struggles that are part of all of our lives. At the same time, it’s all wrapped up in a fantastic world beyond our imagining. Much to my delight, it’s been passed on from generation to generation.

Kennedy: How do you make a Star Wars movie without George Lucas? That's something that all of us asked ourselves at some point on this movie.

Abrams: Being the temporary captain of the ship that George built is an honour but the ship is larger than the man who built it. It became bigger than anyone, including George Lucas. While it began with him, it became the world’s. I want this movie to touch people. I want it to make them believe again in the power of the world that George created. The power of the Light Side versus the Dark Side. The power of the Force.

Kasdan: The world is looking at J.J. and I think that they're gonna be very, very pleased with what he's done. I'll be shocked if people don't just thank their lucky stars that J.J. came into it.

Abrams: The expectations for this movie are extraordinary. On some level it’s incredibly exciting; on another horrific and absolutely terrifying. There is no question that the gift of being able to work on this movie comes at a cost and the cost is an absolutely preposterous level of expectation.

Kennedy: It was a little daunting when my husband's [producer Frank Marshall] movie, Jurassic World, did far better than all the others! It's created a little family competition. But I think it's fascinating that there is a kind of nostalgia that is very popular at the moment. I don't entirely know why, but that certainly bodes well for Star Wars.

Abrams: And next, of course, there’s Episode VIII, which I’m working on as a producer. It feels like an absolutely appropriate transition for the next person to be captain of the ship now. Colin Trevorrow, who’s doing Episode IX, isn’t engaged with that movie yet, he’s busy with other things. But Rian Johnson and I have been in contact quite a bit and I’m a huge fan. I’m involved enough to know what it is and I couldn’t be more excited. I know that he’s going to kill it!