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We finally know why Luke Skywalker was left out of all the 'Star Wars' marketing

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star wars darth vader luke skywalkerWarning: There are major spoilers ahead for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Perhaps the biggest mystery heading into the new "Star Wars" movie is figuring out what happened to Luke Skywalker.

Mark Hamill's iconic character was cleverly hidden from marketing from "The Force Awakens" and was noticeably absent from trailers and television spots save one shot of his hand and a pre-recorded voiceover in a trailer.

The Force Awakens Star Wars Luke

Now that the movie's finally out we know exactly what happened to Luke.

In fact, we learn he's at the heart of the entire film.

Last chance to head back before spoilers!

Luke Skywalker Star Wars

"The Force Awakens" is a giant manhunt to track down Skywalker.

From the moment the opening crawl appears we learn Luke has disappeared in the years since "Return of the Jedi" and everyone's looking for him.

The new villains of the series, the First Order, want to kill him to wipe any remaining Jedi from existence and the resistance fighters, led by Princess Leia (now General Organa) want to reach Luke before that happens.  

Why did Luke go into hiding?

It turns out he was trying to train a group of new Jedi and his new apprentice turned against him to become Kylo Ren.

If that sounds like déjà vu, it's because it sounds an awful lot like Obi-Wan's relationship with Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker, in the prequel series. 

star wars anakin skywalker

Apparently, Luke was haunted by what had happened and disappeared in search of a Jedi temple.

The reason Luke isn't in any marketing for "The Force Awakens" is because he's barely in the movie. He doesn't even have any lines in the new film.

We don't get introduced to Luke until the movie's final shots, and when we do see him, he doesn't appear to have gone to the dark side as many predicted.

star wars luke skywalker darth vader mask

No, he's hiding out on a remote island dressed in Jedi robes, an image that won't be new to anyone who's seen leaked images online

He looks like a wise Jedi similar to Obi-Wan in 1977's "A New Hope" except he appears extremely burdened and upset as he looks down upon a young Rey (Daisy Ridley).

Though we still have a lot to learn about exactly why Luke ran off and cut out all contact with his family and friends, it's clear the next film will put him in a Yoda-like role where he'll be in a position to train Rey in the ways of the Force.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Everything that happened in the first six ‘Star Wars’ movies in 4 minutes

The 11 biggest questions we have after seeing 'Star Wars'

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kylo renWarning: There are massive spoilers ahead. Do not read on if you have not seen "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

The day has finally come! "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is finally out in theaters. 

Fans who headed out on premiere night to see the film are undoubtedly left with more questions than answers about Rey, Kylo Ren, and Luke Skywalker.

These are the biggest questions we have after seeing "The Force Awakens."

Let's get to it!

Who is Rey?

We made it through the whole movie and still only know Rey's first name.

We know she's force sensitive and that she's a great pilot. Anakin's lightsaber called to her and she was able to overpower Kylo. The current theory is that she's Luke's daughter, but could she be Kylo's secret sister? Maybe she's someone unconnected to the Skywalker clan all together.



Why does Kylo harbor so much anger towards his father?

He senses that Rey sees Han as a father figure and then tells her she'd be disappointed by him. What did he do that was so bad in Kylo's eyes? 

Maybe Han never invited him for trips on the Millennium Falcon.



Who is Supreme Leader Snoke?

Is the new Sith lord someone we already know or is he a completely new character. Leia appeared to make it seem as if she may have been familiar with him.

The other thought is that he may be Darth Plagueis, a Sith lord referenced in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." Though Plageuis died years ago he was apparently so knowledgable in the dark side he could prevent people from dying. Could he have found a way to bring himself back to life or is he just someone entirely different?



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The new 'Star Wars' droid started out as a napkin sketch — see the early drawings of BB-8

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rey bb 8 star wars the force awakens

When "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" arrives in theaters this weekend, one of the breakout characters is certain to be the adorable little ball droid BB-8.

The puppy dog-like character isn't a CG character. The crew made a real, working, remote-controlled droid for the film which could roll around and interact with the cast on set.

bb8 star wars the force awakens

But it didn't always look like that.

A new behind-the-scenes video on the film's YouTube page shows off some of the early concept art for the small droid.

BB-8 started out as a sketch on a napkin drawn by director J.J. Abrams himself. The basic idea was to have two circles, one on top of the other.

napkin sketch bb 8

Abrams told Entertainment Weekly the name of the droid came from its simple look.

"I named him BB-8 because it was almost onomatopoeia," Abrams said. "It was sort of how he looked to me, with the 8, obviously, and then the 2 B’s."

It took a lot of sketches to get the droid just right. It looks like the hardest thing was figuring out how to make BB-8 with his head attached directly to his body.

bb8 sketch

They did it though. 

With help from robotics startup Sphero, Disney and Lucasfilm were able to make a life-size working BB-8 just as Abrams imagined. 

bb 8 sketch

Even the side panels of the little droid underwent numerous designs.

bb 8 drawing

If you're thinking the patterns on BB-8 resemble a soccer ball, you're not mistaken. According to Lucasfilm concept designer Christian Alzmann, that's exactly what helped inspire the droid's final look.

"When you’re on a project like that, you start looking at everything spherical for inspiration,"Alzmann told StarWars.com. "I think I ran across a soccer ball, and I was just like, 'Oh, it's kind of perfect.'"

You can check out the full video below.

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NOW WATCH: The original design of the Millennium Falcon in 'Star Wars' was completely different

The biggest question we have after seeing 'Star Wars'

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star wars force awakens reyWarning: If you haven't seen "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" there are spoilers ahead.

We have a lot of questions after seeing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," but one of the biggest mysteries revolves around the main protagonist of the film.

Who is Rey?

rey millennium falcon

When we talked to fans at New York Comic Con, many believed she and Kylo Ren were brother and sister, the twin siblings of Han Solo and Princess Leia. It was the most logical guess for fans to make considering the characters seem similar on the surface to Han and Leia's twins Jacen and Jaina from the "Star Wars" expanded universe. 

The only problem with that theory is that everything in the EU isn't considered canon anymore since Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012. 

While there's a slight possibility Kylo and Rey may be siblings — Kylo's interest piqued whenever he heard about Rey — it looks like that probably isn't the case.

So who is Rey?

The best guess is that she's Luke's daughter and Kylo's cousin.

This is the theory many fans already have on Reddit and it seemed heavily hinted at in the film. There are a lot of coincidences to ignore.

Rey happens to be a ridiculously good pilot without any training.

Who else do we know who are naturally good pilots?

Anakin and Luke Skywalker.

star wars anakin skywalker vaderluke skywalker pilot

She's also force sensitive and is mysteriously drawn to Luke and Anakin's original lightsaber deep in a mysterious room in Maz Kanata's palace. 

lightsaber star wars force awakens

Similar to Luke in the original prequel movies, Rey has a spunky, proactive do-it-herself attitude. Luke often went off on his own, unafraid of whatever danger was set before him in the prequels. He leaves his friends in search of Yoda in the Dagobah system in "Empire Strikes Back" and later leaves Han and Leia in search of Vader in "Return of the Jedi."

Rey is much the same way.

Rey lives on her own on the desert planet of Jakku for most of her life. By the time Finn and Han go to rescue her from the clutches of the First Order she has already made her escape. She's seen scaling walls on her own. She certainly doesn't need anyone looking out for her, and by the end of the film she heads off in search of Luke with only Chewbacca by her side.star wars force awakens rey

Her force abilities are what have me most convinced this is Luke's daughter. She appears to be the only one powerful enough to stand up to Kylo Ren/Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa and Luke's nephew.

kylo ren rey star wars force awakens

Anakin and Luke are the strongest of any Jedi who have ever lived. Leia should be pretty powerful, too, but because she had a child with someone who isn't force sensitive — Han — we could expect that Kylo's powers may not be as powerful as a child from Luke, provided he had a child with another person who was force sensitive. 

That's part of the problem. We have no idea who Rey's potential mother could be. It's possible Luke could have found other long lost Jedi who had been in hiding since the end of "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." 

Viewers were made to believe that Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi were the only two out of thousands of Jedi to make it out alive. But many ongoing stories in the "Star Wars" expanded universe revolved around other surviving Jedi knights including Kanan Jarrus, a character in the animated "Star Wars Rebels" series which takes places 14 years following "Revenge of the Sith."

It's highly possible after Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine were destroyed after the events of "Return of the Jedi" that Jedi who were in hiding for decades finally resurfaced and made themselves known to Luke. Maybe he found a companion in one of them.

You can't deny that at the end of "The Force Awakens," Luke appears pretty rattled when he lays eyes on Rey. 

Though it would be pretty messed up for Luke to then abandon his daughter Rey and leave her on a desert planet at a young age. I guess he'd have to have a good reason.

rey bb 8 star wars force awakens

At the least, Rey is most likely a Skywalker.

There's evidence in the expanded universe to support this, too.

Yes, we know Disney scrapped everything in the EU from canon, but that doesn't mean the new films can't take inspiration from the many novelizations that came before them.

In the "Star Wars" EU, Luke has a son with Mara Jade, an assassin who was originally sent to kill him, but the two ultimately married. They ended up having a son, Ben Skywalker. Maybe Episode VII genderswapped Ben for Rey.

star wars union

The argument for Rey being Kylo's sister. 

kylo ren

Maybe Rey is Ben Solo's long lost sister. 

Han had a real attachment to Rey. Every time the two were on screen together they instantly gelled. The two even finished each other's sentences at least once.

rey hanPlus, Kylo seemed really affected any time someone brought up conversations about Rey. He was really intrigued by her but didn't seem to know who she was.

The biggest problem with this theory is that Han doesn't make any mention about a daughter, let alone other children. Wouldn't Leia have said something to Rey when she saw her? Did Leia keep another child she had hidden from Han? And if so, why?

We probably won't learn who Rey is until "Star Wars: Episode VIII." 

Who do you think Rey is?

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Everything that happened in the first six ‘Star Wars’ movies in 4 minutes

Han Solo would have to pay $3 million a year to maintain the Millennium Falcon

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star wars episode VII millennium falcon

Han Solo would have to shell out a ton of money to keep the Millennium Falcon running if he were paying for repairs in the "Star Wars" galaxy the way we do here on earth.

UK engineering firm SGS Engineering looked at maintenance costs of commercial and fighter jets, as well as standard labor costs, and concluded that it would cost £2,044,000 (roughly $3 million) a year to repair and maintain the spacecraft.

The firm tells Business Insider that it would require more than £350,000 ($525,192) for labor costs and replacement parts could exceed half a million dollars.

SGS looked at data and costs of commercial liners that closely matched the length and width of the Millennium Falcon, as well as the International Air Transport Association’s Maintenance Cost Task Force report, and found that the average maintenance cost was £1,651,483 ($2.5 million) per aircraft.    

The "fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy" is about 111 ft long and 82 ft wide.

SGS owner and founder Andy Wyatt said that the firm decided to look into how much it would cost to fix the ship after seeing estimates about how much it would take to build from scratch. (According to DeAgostini Model Space, it would cost £3.2 billion or $4.8 billion to build.)

"The Falcon’s age and numerous modifications over its lifetime play a big part in ramping up the maintenance costs, not to mention the odd run-in with the dark side," he said. "We’re not professing that these are definitive calculations, there is a certain amount of conjecture in there – after all there’s not much to base a replacement hyperdrive on – but they do give a good idea of just how much of a financial burden the Millennium Falcon would have been on Solo."

SEE ALSO: This favorite female villain from the new 'Star Wars' was originally a man

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NOW WATCH: 'SNL' produced a perfect spoof ad making fun of adult 'Star Wars' nerds

The 14 worst Christmas movies of all time

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Christmas with the Kranks 2004 5%

Nearly everyone has a favorite holiday movie they watch every year, from oldies but goodies like "It's a Wonderful Life" to modern classics like "Elf." 

But then there are the holiday duds: the fruitcakes of Hollywood that some may love with an inexplicable guilty-pleasure, or love to groan at whenever it comes on  

We decided to check out Rotten Tomatoes, and see what some of the lowest-rate holiday releases were.

Scroll down to see if your favorite (or your least favorite) made the list. 

"Unaccompanied Minors" (2006): 31%

Based on the premise of a snowed in airport filled with unattended children trying to fly home for the holidays, this movie is full of misbehaving children getting into shenanigans. Time Out critic Derek Adams said of the movie: "Irresponsible content notwithstanding, it's the low standard of filmmaking that really defies belief."

Source: Rotten Tomatoes



"Four Christmases" (2008): 25%

Starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, "Four Christmases" is the story of a couple whose plan to avoid the holidays with their family is ruined by a canceled flight. The dysfunctional family tropes play out in the film, but one critic found it both "charmless and cheerless."



"I'll be Home for Christmas" (1998): 23%

Ah, the glory days of Jonathan Taylor Thomas. This Disney original missed the magic, and Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post said it was "too sophisticated for thumb-suckers, but far too stupid for anyone else."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' shatters box-office record with $238 million

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the force awakens finn poe

The opening weekend box-office run by "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is nothing short of historic.

It goes without saying that the seventh episode in the "Star Wars" saga topped the weekend box office, but the question is was it enough to surpass "Jurassic World" as the biggest opening weekend of all time?

The answer is yes. "Force Awakens" surpassed the record of $208.4 million set by "World" over the summer with an astounding estimated $238 million in North America, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Industry insiders believe the number could be closer to $240 million. Final weekend totals come out on Monday.

Previous to this, the film had already broke the Thursday-preview record with $57 million, and the biggest single-day box-office record on Friday with $120 million.

To put the huge weekend by "Awakens" in perspective, it made more than the opening weekends of "The Hobbit" trilogy (the big December release of the last three years) combined.

Needless to say, the $4 billion purchase by Disney of Lucasfilm is looking to be money well spent.

Meanwhile the battle for second place came down to the other new releases, and "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip" took the spot with $14.4 million, while "Sister" came in third with $13.4 million.

Internationally, "The Force Awakens" made $279 million, that's the third-highest opening of all time behind "Jurassic World" ($316 million) and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2" ($314 million).

SEE ALSO: I saw "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," and I have one big complaint about the movie

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Adam Savage from 'MythBusters' has an incredible connection to the 'Star Wars' franchise

CITADEL: Yoda 'would have made a great investor' (dis)

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yoda attack clones

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" hit theaters on Friday, and a group of analysts from the hedge fund Citadel sat down to discuss the Disney-owned movie franchise.

Among other things, analysts Stephen Parlett, Evan Ericson, Joe Pasqualichio, and Steven Rosenberg discussed which extraterrestrial character would fare best on Wall Street.

So which is it?

"Yoda. I think he would have made a great investor," Pasqualichio said. "He's wise, patient, and has an extremely long-term outlook, so I think he'd be able to find significant alpha."

And their least favorite characters?

"Let's just say Jar Jar Binks was not the greatest 'Star Wars' character of all time," Ericson said.

Citadel, founded and led by Ken Griffin, has $25 billion in assets under management. The firm held a stake in Disney until the third quarter.

Read the full Q&A transcript here.

And here's a clip of the Q&A session:

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Here is how hedge fund giant Citadel predicts Hollywood hits

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star wars force awakens

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" debuted on Friday and shattered box-office records.

Citadel's Stephen Parlett, Evan Ericson, Joe Pasqualichio, and Steven Rosenberg laid out their thoughts on the film — and on predicting financial success in movies — in a Q&A session.

Citadel, founded and led by Ken Griffin, has $25 billion in assets under management.

"Our models are built to be extremely dynamic and flexible," Parlett said when asked how Citadel calculated the likelihood of a movie's success and how the firm could change its models when needed.

"In the entertainment industry something can be a hit or a flop; the numbers can change rapidly, and our flexibility enables us to react incredibly fast" he said.

Rosenberg said Citadel spends a lot of time conducting research to better understand consumer trends. He said:

We perform a lot of proprietary research and data analysis. For example, we survey thousands of gamers every year to understand consumer trends, test hypotheses and gauge purchase intent for upcoming titles into the holiday season.

Unsurprisingly, this year's video game survey showed strong purchase intent for Star Wars: Battlefront. But if you dig a little deeper into the numbers, you start to discover some interesting trends about how and where consumers plan to make their purchases. All that will have an impact on the game publisher's gross margins.

Parlett added that "not all revenues are created equal," meaning Citadel needs to understand "the underlying costs or revenue sharing that are associated with a content company's revenues."

Pasqualichio said:

It's important to remember that the total revenue generated from a film will include more than just the theatrical release, as Stephen mentioned. Films use the ultimate method of accounting which includes revenue streams beyond the initial theatrical release.

When a film is created, there is a major fixed cost associated with its production. That production cost will be amortized over the life of the film based on how much it generates at the box office, in the premium TV window, in the basic TV window, and how much it generated from consumer products and other ancillary revenues.

Read the full Q&A transcript here.

Here's part of that conversation:

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J.K. Rowling responds to fans about casting a black woman as Hermione in new 'Harry Potter' play

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harry potter play cast

The eighth story in the "Harry Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" will debut as a play in 2016. Casting announcements made Sunday evening revealed the adult versions of Harry, Ron and Hermione.

Actors Jamie Parker, Paul Thornley, and Noma Dumezweni will play the trio. Though none of the cast identically resembles an older version of the original movie cast (Parker has noticeably lighter hair than Daniel Radcliffe, and Thornley is missing the iconic red hair of the Weasley family), the main topic of conversation has been Dumezweni. 

Dumezweni, a black woman, has been cast as Hermione. In the book series, there is never a specific mention of Hermione's race — only her "bushy" hair, large front teeth, and knack for being a know-it-all. For quite some time now, a theory has circulated that Hermione was black. 

But some of the responses to the casting of Dumezweni reveal that not everyone in the fandom was aware of this concept, and seem unable to accept that an award-winning British actress who happens to be black could play Hermione.

 The phrase "not being racist but ... " has cropped up.

Along with fans saying it's not a "race issue, it's a continuity issue."

J.K. Rowling was compelled to chime in: "Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione 😘."

Actor Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom in the movie series, also shut down the conversation: "And Neville Longbottom was blonde. I really don't care. Good luck to her."

The play's co-writer, Jack Thorne, skipped right past the discussion of race, and instead made a point about Paul Thornley's lack of red hair.

The overwhelming support being given to Dumezweni seems to outweigh any critics, though many have pointed out the need for this conversation at all is indicative of a larger issue with white actors commonly seen as a go-to choice for casting in television and film ensembles.

The play will debut in June 2016. More casting announcements, including Harry's youngest son Albus, are yet to be announced. 

SEE ALSO: Tickets to the new Harry Potter play sold out in less than an hour and fans are having a meltdown

MORE: J.K. Rowling just set the record straight on the most controversial character in the 'Harry Potter' series

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Everything we know about JK Rowling's new 'Harry Potter' play

9 cameos you'll never notice while watching 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

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bb8

Warning: If you haven't seen "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," there are some mild spoilers ahead.

Many are heading out to watch "Star Wars" to see Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill reunite on the big screen. But another reason to see the movie may be for the celebrity cameos hidden in the new film. We're talking about ones you'd never notice upon multiple viewings of the movie.

It turns out that a few famous faces are underneath some of those stormtrooper helmets.

Keep reading to see who has a hidden role in "The Force Awakens."

The voices of Ewan McGregor and Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi can be heard in the film.

According to an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ewan McGregor came in to do a quick voice-over one day. Abrams then combined it with a portion of Alec Guinness' voice from the original trilogy.

You can hear their voices calling out to Rey during her flashback/flash-forward moment in the line, "Rey, these are your first steps."

It's Guinness saying "Rey."



Frank Oz briefly returns as the voice of Yoda.

In the same sequence, you can briefly hear Yoda's voice, too. Abrams tells EW that the legendary puppeteer came in to bring the character back to life.

"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," says Abrams.



Bill Hader was a voice consultant on droid BB-8.

"J.J. [Abrams was] f------ around with this sound effects app on his iPad that was attached to a talk box operated by me,"Hader told HitFix. "It looked ridiculous but it made BB-8's voice. At first I tried doing a voice, but we all agreed it sounded too human."

Actor Ben Schwartz is also credited as a voice consultant on the droid.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is better than the prequels in every way except one

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the force awakens daisy john

The long wait is finally over, and it looks like it was worth it.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" set a new worldwide box-office opening record with $528 million. It's also winning over fans: IMDb users have given the film a rating of 8.9 out of 10.

So, it has to be good, right — as in better than the prequels and just as good as the original films?

Warning: spoilers for the film below.

Well ... first let's look at the story. Set 30 years after the events of the sixth episode, "Return of the Jedi" (1983), "Force Awakens" has Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) gone missing. He's being searched for by the Resistance, a military force supported by the Republic, and the First Order, a successor to the evil Galactic Empire. In an attempt to find him, Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) finds a part to a map to Skywalker's whereabouts, but is captured by the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

This sets off a chain of events that includes Finn (John Boyega), a rouge stormtrooper, and desert scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) meeting up with the original-trilogy characters. The newcomers discover what they're made of as they try to stop the First Order's planet-destroying Starkiller Base — a planet turned into a machine — and find Skywalker.

Less backstory, much more exciting plot

Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones hayden christensenThe film only gives us glimpses into the backstories and motives of the new characters. This is somewhat jarring compared to how "The Phantom Menace" (1999) and "A New Hope" (1977) played out. Still, I definitely want to know more about these people and what will happen to them in Episodes VIII and IX. This is in contrast to the prequel trilogy because, for the most part, moviegoers knew what was going to happen: The Jedi will fall, the Republic will become the Empire, and Anakin Skywalker will become Darth Vader.

Acting that had genuine laughs

And speaking of characters, the acting was much better than in the prequels, which often came across as wooden. No one was stiff this time and the dialogue was more natural. Boyega played off Isaac and Harrison Ford — who was back as Han Solo — well, and this led to a few laughs. Rey's story arc is arguably the most compelling, and she's poised to become the future star of the series.

stormtroopers

Much better use of practical effects

So what about the special effects? Well, it was so refreshing to see a wide use of real sets and locations, practical effects, and costumes. Granted, the prequels also had these, but Episodes I to III had way too much CG. "Force Awakens" had a good balance of everything. For example, the clone troopers in "Revenge of the Sith" (2005) were CG and it painfully showed, but in "Force Awakens," the Stormtroopers were real people in real costumes. And it showed. They looked better.

For the record, I don't hate the prequels. They might not have been as enjoyable as the original trilogy, but I did appreciate how they explained the backstory that would lead to it. Yes, galactic politics isn't for everyone, but even I knew back in 1999 that such things were going to play an important role because they had to. I'm still invested in the prequels' stories, but I've come to terms with the quality of those films.

set final

The biggest weakness in 'The Force Awakens'

Overall, people should be relieved since "Force Awakens" lives up to the hype in ways the prequels just couldn't. Even so, the most disappointing aspects of the new film for me were the moments clearly derivative of the original trilogy. Starkiller Base (more or less the Death Star of Episodes IV and VI) and the attempt to destroy the base (Episode VI) probably stood out the most in this regard. Why couldn't the filmmakers find more original elements?

Well, franchise creator George Lucas was a consultant early on and wrote treatments for the sequel trilogy. After some back and forth, it was decided that Luke, Han, and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) would get top billing, with the younger stars taking over in the next two episodes. In fact, director J.J. Abrams was quoted as saying that he wanted to focus on those three characters "so audiences could have one more chance to enjoy them before a fitting send-off."

But I hope the new characters will inspire stories that live up to the grandeur and fun on the original trilogy without rehashing plot threads. If "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is any indication, then the Force is strong with them and the new trilogy.

SEE ALSO: The new 'Star Wars' movie took a big piece of inspiration from the expanded universe

DON'T MISS: 2 millennials watched the original ‘Star Wars’ for the first time

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NOW WATCH: Everything that happened in the first six ‘Star Wars’ movies in 4 minutes

A church took the 'Star Wars' frenzy as an opportunity to teach a biblical lesson

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A church in Berlin, Germany, took advantage of the hysteria surrounding the release of the latest "Star Wars" film to get more people to come to church.

During the weekend in which "The Force Awakens" had a record-breaking opening at the box office, the Zionskirche invited members and visitors to dress up as their favorite "Star Wars" character. Yes, even those from the dark side.

An organist played the "Star Wars" theme music, and the clergy used lightsabers to compare the message in "Star Wars" to the message of the Bible, comparing the biblical struggle between good and evil to the struggle between light and dark in "Star Wars." 

Kathrin Breustedt, who attended the service, elaborated that "It is simply about laying down weapons and choosing the peaceful way. So it fits together nicely."

"People know 'Star Wars,' but unfortunately they do not know the Bible so well anymore, but if you combine the Bible with 'Star Wars' then you get people coming to church again," said Lucas Ludewig, one of the clergy who conducted the service.

Story and editing by Andrew Fowler

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Meet Daisy Ridley, the 23-year-old who's the real star of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' — her Hollywood career is blowing up

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star wars force awakens trailer

Daisy Ridley, 23, went from being relatively unknown to the name everybody was talking about when casting for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was announced in 2014.

Rey, who emerges from "Force Awakens" as the star of the new series of films, plays a scavenger in a ship graveyard who gets involved in a mission with the original-trilogy characters.

Prior to joining the film's cast, Ridley's credits consisted of a couple of guest appearances on television shows and shorts.

With "The Force Awakens" set for two more sequels, Ridley won't be leaving the "Star Wars" world anytime soon, and her list of projects is sure to grow.

Here's your introduction to this future franchise star.

SEE ALSO: Watch stars from 'The Force Awakens' react to the newest trailer

Born and raised in Westminster, London, Daisy Ridley is the youngest of five sisters. Her father is a photographer and her mother works in internal communications at a bank.

(SOURCE)



She's not the only one in her family with performing in her blood. Her great-uncle is Arnold Ridley, an actor well-known for his role in "Dad's Army," a popular British sitcom that ran from 1968 to 1977.

(SOURCE)



Ridley studied at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, where she specialized in musical theater, and graduated in 2010 when she was 18.

(SOURCE)



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A 'Star Wars' star snuck into showings of 'The Force Awakens,' and fans flipped out

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John Boyega broke out as Finn, a Stormtrooper who abandons the dark side, in "The Force Awakens." Thanks to the film's huge opening weekend, Boyega is on his way to becoming one of the biggest stars in the world.

Despite this, the self-proclaimed "Star Wars" fan decided to surprise fans who went out to see "The Force Awakens" during the film's opening weekend. 

He stopped by showings in New York and London, shocking fans and earning rapturous applause.

Boyega posted all of the videos on his Instagram.

"The Force Awakens" is now playing in theaters.

Story by Ian Phillips and editing by Kristen Griffin

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SEE ALSO:  Droids stole the show at the 'Star Wars' world premiere

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RANKED: The 10 best movies of 2015

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The Revenant

It was a roller-coaster ride of big wins and bigger losses at the multiplex this year. Multiple movies broke the all-time opening-weekend box-office record, while some just didn't break even during their whole theatrical run.

I was there for all of it and have to admit that there was more good than bad.

With so much interesting filmmaking, it was tough to come up with just 10 favorites of the year, but here they are — along with a few others that deserve recognition.

SEE ALSO: The 10 most buzzed-about TV shows of 2015 — according to the internet

10. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"

To say that there was a thirst for the "Star Wars" saga to continue would be an understatement. The seventh episode in the franchise, "The Force Awakens" picks up on the story of the fight between the Rebels and the Empire 32 years after "Return of the Jedi"— they are now called the Resistance and the First Order, respectively. It broke all box-office records its first weekend in theaters, including an astounding opening-weekend domestic gross of $247 million and worldwide take of $528 million. Though "Star Wars" movies always make money, what makes "The Force Awakens" different is that director J.J. Abrams has accomplished the difficult task of exciting us for what's to come in future episodes while celebrating our nostalgia for the original trilogy.



9. "Creed"

As Abrams does with "The Force Awakens," but with much less box-office pressure, director Ryan Coogler resurrects an elite franchise with some contemporary flavor. Delving into the "Rocky" franchise but focusing on the legacy of a supporting character, the movie has the freedom to explore new territory while sprinkling in what we love about the "Rocky" movies. Though Coogler obviously adores the source material and the camera work by DP Maryse Alberti is top-notch, it's Michael B. Jordan as the young Creed who drives it home. Jordan plays the character with intense swagger to impress a father he never knew, giving the latest "Rocky" a satisfying range of emotions.



8. "Love & Mercy"

The second directing effort by veteran producer Bill Pohlad is an exquisite look at the life of Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson, zeroing in on the musician at the height of his creativity (played by Paul Dano) intercut with him at his lowest point (played by John Cusack) decades later. By exploring Wilson's mental health, Pohlad draws powerful performances from both actors, but also uses the sound design perfectly to take us inside Wilson's mind.



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Here's everything coming to Netflix in January

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2 fast 2 furious tyrese paul walker

As the holiday season comes to an end, what better way to wile away the time than by watching your favorite movies and shows on Netflix. 

In January, the streaming service will add dozens of new titles. From popular nature documentaries to classic movies and Netflix original content, the month is stacked with great additions. 

Unfortunately, the line up doesn't include anything as epic as all 10 seasons of "Friends," but it's a good list nonetheless.

Here's what you should check out on Netflix in January:

TV

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" Season 10 (Available 1/5)
The wacky gang in returns for another season of ridiculous scenarios and offbeat comedy.

"New Girl" Season 4 (Available 1/5)
Zoey Deschanel spearheads this sitcom about four roommates in L.A. The fifth season premieres on Fox the same day Netflix will allow subscribers to catch up with season 4.

new girl jess
"Parks and Recreation" Season 7 (Available 1/13)
The final season of this beloved NBC series is making its way to Netflix. Beloved Amy Poehler and her stellar cast of costars get up to antics as they run the fictional town of Pawnee's local government.

Netflix Original: "Degrassi: The Next Class" Season 1 (Available 1/15)
This teen drama series was an iconic Canadian production hosted on TeenNick for years. Now Netlifx is taking the reins and producing their own version.

Movies

"2 Fast 2 Furious" (2003) (Available 1/1)
The sequel to the original "The Fast and the Furious" will be available in the New Year. The franchise producers are currently working on the eighth installment. 

"Pride and Prejudice" (2005) (Available 1/1)
The film adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel comes to life with the help of Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. 

Pride and Prejudice still

"Training Day" (2001) (Available 1/4)
Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke both recieved Oscar nominations for their performance in this crime thriller. 

"Frozen Planet" (2011) (Available 1/28/16)
This British nature document series narrated by the one and only David Attenborough was awarded an Emmy in 2012. The series focuses on life in both the Artic and Antarctica.

Here's the full list of January releases:

Available 1/1/16

"2 Fast 2 Furious" (2003)
"Along Came Polly" (2004)
"American Girl: Grace Stirs up Success" (2015)
"Angry Birds Toons: Season 1"
"Bring It On: Fight to the Finish" (2009)
"Bring It On: In It to Win It" (2007)
"Catwoman" (2004)
"The Celebrity Plastic Surgeons of Beverly Hills: Season 1"
"Constantine" (2005)
"Forensic Files: Collection 2"
"Friday Night Tykes: Season 1-2"
"The Good Road" (2013)
"House of Wax" (2005)
"How to Change the World" (2015)
"Ice Age 2: The Meltdown" (2006)
"Intolerable Cruelty" (2003)
"Journey to Le Mans" (2014)
"Loins of Punjab" (2007)
"Meet the Fockers" (2004)
"Meet the Parents" (2000)
"Nanny McPhee" (2006)
"Piku" (2015)
"Pooh's Heffalump Movie" (2005)
"Pride and Prejudice" (2005)
"The Rundown" (2003)
"Shout Gladi Gladi" (2015)
"Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball" (2009)
"Something New" (2006)
"Stephen Fry Live: More Fool Me" (2014)
"Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle: Season 3"
"Swordfish" (2001)
"The Tale of Despereaux" (2008)
"Under Arrest: Season 1: Put Some Clothes On”
"We Need to Talk About Kevin" (2011)
"The Wedding Date" (2005)
"The Whole Ten Yards" (2004) 

Available 1/2/16

"30 for 30: Four Falls of Buffalo"
"I'll Have What Phil's Having: Season 1"

Available 1/3/16

"Sofia the First: Season 2" 

Available 1/4/16

"Blunt Force Trauma" (2015)
"Training Day" (2001)

Available 1/5/16

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 10"
"New Girl: Season 4"

Available 1/8/16

"Adult World" (2014)
Netflix Original "Dragons: Race to the Edge: Season 2"
Netflix Original "Tom Segura: Mostly Stories" (2015)

Available 1/10/16

"Dos Hermanos" (2010)
"El Hombre de al Lado" (2009)
"Esperando La Carroza" (1985)
"The Marziano Family" (2011)
"Rosario Tijeras" (2005)
"Un Oso Rojo" (2002)

Available 1/11/16

"Littlest Pet Shop: Season 4"

Available 1/12/16

"The Ladykillers" (2004)

Available 1/13/16

"Parks and Recreation: Season 7"

Available 1/14/16

"The Testimony" (2015)

 Available 1/15/16

Netflix Original "Degrassi: The Next Class: Season 1"
"The Last Five Years" (2015)
"Moonwalkers" (2015)
"Occupied" (2015)
"The Overnight" (2015)
"Sirens: Season 2"

Available 1/16/16

"Hyde Park on Hudson" (2012)

Available 1/17/16

"Z Nation: Season 2"

Available 1/19/16

"Curve" (2015)

Available 1/20/16

"Drone" (2014)

Available 1/21/16

"When Calls the Heart: Season 2"

Available 1/22/16

"Sharknado 3" (2015)

Available 1/23/16

Netlifx Original "Chelsea Does" (2016) 

Available 1/25/16

"From Dusk Till Dawn: Season 2"
"Turbo Kid" (2015)

Available 1/28/16

"Frozen Planet" (2011)
"Frozen Planet: On Thin Ice" (2011)
"Frozen Planet: The Epic Journey" (2011)
"The Making of Frozen Plane" (2012)

 Available 1/29/16

Netflix Original "Ever After High: Dragon Games"

Available 1/31/16

"Words and Pictures" (2013)

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'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' sets new box-office records with $529 million worldwide opening weekend

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STAR WARS SUX 3

"The Force Awakens" turned out to be as big as everyone thought it would be — and possibly even bigger.

The latest entry in the "Star Wars" movies toppled previous box-office records for domestic and global grosses, taking in $247.97 million domestically over the weekend and $529 million worldwide, according to the final official numbers.

"It's bigger than big. It’s bigger than we thought it would be... And China has yet to open," Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a release Monday. "So that's an incredible weekend. And I must say it's higher than we said yesterday."

The previous all-time best US opening was "Jurassic World" with $208.8 million (not adjusting for inflation), which was also the previous worldwide best at $524 million. "Force Awakens" was No. 1 in every country where it played except South Korea and Vietnam.

"Force Awakens" also had the biggest Friday of all time, with $120.5 million. You can see the rest of the records broken by the movie at Box Office Mojo.

The domination of "Force Awakens" is a huge win for Disney, which bought Lucasfilm and the "Star Wars" franchise from George Lucas for $4 billion.

Two other films competed against "Force Awakens.""Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip" came in second domestically with $14.4 million, the lowest opening of any title in the franchise. The new Tina Fey and Amy Poehler comedy "Sisters" got third place with $13.4 million.

You can expect all those movies to significantly increase their hauls over the coming holidays.

*Post updated to include the final official box-office numbers.

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NOW WATCH: Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner in the Miss Universe contest and now Trump has a solution

How Alvin and the Chipmunks went from a '50s Christmas song to a billion-dollar franchise

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alvin and the chipmunks

From humble beginnings in a Christmas song to a billion-dollar global franchise, Alvin and the Chipmunks have come a long way.

Ross Bagdasarian Sr. was struggling to make a hit song when he spent $190 of his last $200 on a tape recorder in 1958 to speed up his voice. The result was "Witch Doctor," a song with a high-pitched chorus that became an astonishing hit. From this came the inspiration for "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)," which was released later that year, and thus, the chipmunk trio was born.

Named for three record executives from the Chipmunks' original label, Alvin, Theodore, and Simon became fan favorites. They were animated in 1961 for a short-lived television series and released a number of albums until the death of Bagdasarian Sr.

Bagdasarian's son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr., took control of the family company, Bagdasarian Productions, and in the early '80s, he and his wife, Janice Karman, revived the Chipmunks.

Since buying out the company from his siblings in the '90s, Bagdasarian Jr. and his wife have kept the Chipmunks a family affair.

In the years since, they've appeared in TV cartoons, released more albums, and they've been featured in a number of films. But it hasn't always been easy for the chipmunk trio — they have been involved in some lawsuits over the years. 

Check out the Chipmunks' legacy below:

SEE ALSO: Why these movies made the 'baffling' decision to compete against 'Star Wars' at the box office

Rostom Sipan "Ross" Bagdasarian was an actor and musician known for his appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window." He was making novelty records in the late '50s when he bought a tape recorder that allowed him to vary tape speed and released the song "Witch Doctor" in 1958. It reached No. 1.



That fall, he released "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)," which marked the debut of his chipmunk trio.

The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held in 1959 and the song won three Grammys: best comedy performance, best engineered record (non-classical) and best recording for children. It also reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100, the only Chipmunks song to do so, and stayed there for four weeks.

(Sourece: Los Angeles Times and Billboard)



He named the three chipmunks Simon, Theodore, and Alvin, after three record executives, and gave them a human caretaker named David Seville, Bagdasarian's stage name. Bagdasarian voiced all three chipmunks and the human David for much of his career. He also started Bagdasarian Productions to handle the Chipmunks franchise.



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Here's what Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

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Neil deGrasse Tyson lightsabers

Astrophysicist and host of "StarTalk Radio” Neil deGrasse Tyson has finally seen the new “Star Wars” movie.

What does he think?

The "Star Trek" fan is live tweeting his thoughts on "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" right now.

Warning: If you haven't seen "The Force Awakens," there are some mild spoilers ahead!

His first tweet is about politics.

Hot take: BB-8 > R2-D2. Whoa.

The astromech droid is pretty freaking adorable.

bb8

Sorry R2.

star wars behind the scenes trailer r2d2

While deGrasse Tyson loves BB-8, he's quick to point out the droid probably would have had a tougher time moving around in the sand.

rey bb 8 star wars force awakens

Now, we're getting a little nitpicky.

star wars tie fighter

DeGrasse Tyson points out the ultimate flaw with the First Order's new planet-vaporizing Death Star:

We're sad we don't speak Wookiee either.

chewbacca the force awakens

He's talking about Rey, here.

DeGrasse Tyson is not impressed with the new Stormtroopers.

Yep.

"Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" (1980):

star wars han solo chewbacca

vs. "The Force Awakens":star wars the force awakens chewbacca harrison ford han solo

Don't mention Millennium Falcon's speed deGrasse Tyson.

millennium falcon death star

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NOW WATCH: Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the problem with the Death Star