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'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is the fastest movie to earn $1 billion at the box office

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the force awakens millenium falcon disney final

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" just keeps making money and breaking records.

After nabbing the Christmas Day box-office record with $49.3 million, shattering the previous record of $24.6 million held by 2009's "Sherlock Holmes," with the weekend coming to the close "The Force Awakens" has grabbed another honor — becoming the record holder for the fastest movie ever to gross $1 billion globally.

The film earned $153 million this weekend, according to The Wrap. That puts it comfortably over the mark one day quicker than "Jurassic World," which did the feat in 13 days in June.

It seems every week "The Force Awakens" knocks off a record made over the summer by "Jurassic World."

Along with taking the opening-weekend record last weekend from the super-sized dinosaur pic, and now the $1 billion record, over the weekend "Awakens" topped "World" as the fastest film to top $400 million at the domestic box office. 

Expect more record-breaking numbers for "Awakens" in the global market as it opens in China on January 9.

daddys home paramount picturesNew release "Daddy's Home," the latest comedy teaming Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, did better than industry projections with an estimated $38.8 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That puts the film in second place for the weekend.

It was a highly competitive weekend, with movies ranging from Jennifer Lawrence's "Joy," which opened at $17.5 million, to Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight," taking on $4.5 million in 100 theaters.

However, perhaps it was Leonardo DiCaprio's bear-fighting frontier movie "The Revenant" that shows the most promise, as its limited release over the weekend took in an estimated $471,000 in just four theaters. That's a per-screen average of 117,750, the second best for a 2015 film to date. The film opens in wide release January 8.

SEE ALSO: 15 people you didn't know were in "Star Wars"

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NOW WATCH: Here's the Irish island where they filmed the most gorgeous scene from the new Star Wars

Here's your first look at Benedict Cumberbatch as Marvel superhero Doctor Strange

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This week's cover of Entertainment Weekly offers an extremely early glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange for the Marvel film due out November 4, 2016.

According to EW, principal photography for the film only began in November and the photo for the cover was taken during one of Cumberbatch's first times wearing the costume.

He told EW he is still learning about his former-doctor-turned-sorcerer character and how to pose as if he is casting spells. 

“I’m still in the infancy of learning all that," he said. “It was like, okay, I’ve got to keep throwing these poses, these spells, these rune-casting things, everything he does physically. I’m thinking, there’s going to be a huge amount of speculation and intrigue over the positioning of that finger as opposed to it being there, or there. And I’m still working on that. We haven’t played any of those scenes yet. I felt really self-conscious. But, then, by the end, it was great. It’s like anything, you just have to experiment.”

"Doctor Strange" will also star Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Mads Mikkelsen.

The issue will be on newsstands Tuesday.

SEE ALSO: The awesome new 'Deadpool' trailer is here with a Christmas message from the Ryan Reynolds superhero

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

These were the top-14 illegally downloaded movies in 2015

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Though the box office had a banner year in 2015, the movie business still has to vigorously combat piracy and, according to data, it's on the rise.

Variety released a list of the 14 titles that were pirated the most this year, from tracking firm Excipio.

Two major points stand out. Titles from the year before, like "Interstellar" and "American Sniper," were still popular in 2015, as both cracked the top 10. And the number of downloads from 2014 climbed dramatically.

In 2014, "Wolf of Wall Street," a 2013 release, topped the list with just over 30 million downloads. That's 55% less than the title that won out this year. In fact, "Wolf" wouldn't have even made it in the top 10 this year.

Here's the full list:

SEE ALSO: Here's everything coming to TV in 2016 that you need to know

14. "Inside Out" (22,734,070 downloads)



13. "Minions" (23,495,140 downloads)



12. "San Andreas" (26,792,863 downloads)



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Director Kevin Smith can't believe more people don't make movies on their phones

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clerks

Though much of the world is understandably busy talking about Emo Kylo Renand company, 2015 has also seen its fair share of low-budget home runs. Sean S. Baker's Tangerine, easily one of the best movies of the year, was shot entirely via iPhone. Dope brought a mostly unknown cast to the forefront of cinema while maintaining its ultra-low $700,000 budget. Of course, any discussion about the prospects of under-funded but inarguably viable cinema almost has to includeKevin Smith, who is somehow the director of both confirmed classic Clerks and confirmed dud Cop Out.

With the long-in-discussionClerks III still hanging out in the pre-production stage, the legendary director took to Facebook to drop some knowledge while also inspiring younger filmmakers to stop making excuses and start making actual movies:

 

"You can make a movie for WAY less money these days, kids," Smith said in a later comment on the post. "All the tech you need is right on your smart phone. So...what's stopping you?" Not to belabor the point, but dude kind of nailed it. With a budget of just over $27,000 leading to an eventual gross of more than $3 million, even the math is on your side.

Stop playing Candy Crush and start making movies.

 

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NOW WATCH: What happens to your brain when you check your phone all the time

People are convinced that the first line in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is an insult aimed at George Lucas

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oscar isaac star wars the force awakens

Some "Star Wars" fans are closely reading a piece of dialogue from the new J.J. Abrams film, and they think it might be a coded message.

You might not remember exactly what the first spoken line in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is, so let's refresh your memory.

In the opening scene, Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) meets Oscar Isaac's pilot Poe to give him part of the map that could lead to finding Luke Skywalker.

The new movie takes place a few decades after "Return of the Jedi," in which time Skywalker vanishes and the whole plot is dedicated to finding Luke's secret location in the galaxy.

The first thing San Tekka says is, "This will begin to make things right."

Now, in context, he obviously means "This Skywalker map clue will hopefully bring back the Jedi Knights and return balance to the Force."

But if you want to read it on another level, the line could mean: This new "Star Wars" franchise, spearheaded by Disney and kicking off with "The Force Awakens," will right the sins of the (disgraceful, at least to many fans) prequels that George Lucas made previously.

It might be a stretch, but that's never stopped fans before.

There's a raging debate on Quora, with commenters split between believing the line must be a wink to "Star Wars" fans, and others saying Abrams is too much of a "gent" and doesn't have enough reason to make such a dig.

Abrams has been completely cordial in press appearances for "The Force Awakens" and doesn't seem like the type to go after Lucas directly.

Then again, he wrote the script for the new movie with Lawrence Kasdan, who also wrote "Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," and had no involvement in the prequels. "The Force Awakens" has a lot more in common with those original-trilogy films, which many fans will tell you is one way to "make things right."

SEE ALSO: These were the top 14 illegally downloaded movies in 2015

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NOW WATCH: The only person who kept their composure after the Miss Universe disaster was Miss Colombia

This is what happens to your brain when you get a concussion

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Will Smith's new movie "Concussion" opened on Christmas Day, shedding light on a problem that's been plaguing the NFL for years.

The film is based on the life of forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, who uncovered evidence of a fatal brain disorder in NFL players called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is thought to be caused by repeated concussions. But the NFL did its best to hush up Omalu's findings.

In 2013, the NFL paid millions of dollars to settle a court case brought by dozens of its football players. These players have serious neurological problems from concussions they got playing the game.

For years the NFL claimed that concussions and the resulting neurological conditions of its players were rare. But an investigation into the dark history of concussions in the NFL published by PBS Frontline and recent scientific studies show multiple blows to the head cause serious permanent brain problems for these players.

We've put together an explanation of what actually happens to these football players' brains — or anyone's brain — when they get a concussion.

What is a concussion?

Right now your brain is perfectly balanced in your skull, suspended in cerebrospinal fluid that serves to protect it. But when the head hits something with a hard enough impact — like a football player slamming into another player's head — this small fluid layer is not enough protection, resulting in a concussion.

During a concussion, the brain bumps into the skull's interior, physician Richard Smyada wrote in Scientific American. A bruise develops where the brain initially hit the skull and a second one develops on the opposite side when the brain is jarred back into place. You can think of it as dribbling a basketball — the ball hits the ground and then bounces back and hits your hand. These two bruises that develop on the brain are called the coup and the contrecoup, respectively.

The brain can actually twist and rotate too, depending on the kind of impact. This twisting motion stretches and strains the nerve cells in the brain. Their ability to send and receive messages from the rest of the body is disrupted because the axons — the long fibers that brain cells send signals through — stretch and sometimes swell.

Too much stretching and swelling of these nerve cells can cause them to permanently lose their ability to communicate with the rest of the body.

Not all concussions are alike

A concussion immediately paralyzes the nervous function of the brain — you can't sense anything for a moment. But this paralysis is reversible, and goes away not too long after the impact. You don't actually have to be knocked unconscious to have a concussion.

There are essentially three levels of severity, according to Missouri University Health Care:

  1. The person is confused and unable to think clearly, but still conscious. This usually lasts less than 15 minutes.
  2. The person is still conscious, but is confused and experiences memory loss. This lasts at least 15 minutes.
  3. The person is actually knocked unconscious. When they regain consciousness, they will noticeably have trouble moving and thinking clearly.

No one recovers quite the same — it can take days, sometimes weeks, depending on the person and the severity of the injury.

The brain is not completely healed until all of the symptoms of concussion are gone.

Repeated concussions may lead to disease

Getting multiple concussions over time, especially if you get a second concussion when you are still experiencing symptoms from the first, can lead to serious neurological problems. The brain's nerve cells need time to recover and return to normal after one concussion, and multiple concussions make nerve recovery take much longer. After enough concussions, the nerves may not ever fully recover.

Some NFL football players who get pummeled over and over again develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy — which causes the brain to break down over time, leading to memory loss, depression, and even dementia.

SEE ALSO: The 15 most damning quotes from 'League Of Denial,' the NFL concussion documentary

DON'T MISS: NFL wanted Junior Seau's brain kept away from concussion researchers it didn't like, documentary alleges

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NOW WATCH: Will Smith says this is the biggest revelation in his new film, 'Concussion'

It would cost $900 billion in real life to save Matt Damon in all of his movies

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The Martian

Rescuing Matt Damon isn't cheap.

Quora user posted on the question-and-answer site asking, "How much money has been spent attempting to bring Matt Damon back from distant places?"

The user cited "Saving Private Ryan,""Interstellar," and this year's "The Martian" as examples of films in which Damon's character must be rescued.

It turns out there are quite a few more.

Another user, Kynan Eng, calculated how much it would've actually cost to retrieve Damon from faraway places in his films, using 2015 currency rates. Eng also tallied the budgets of the movies in which he's rescued, all of which come to $729 million.

But to save Damon? Eng estimates it would reach a whopping $900 billion, with the space mission of "Interstellar" costing the most.

The breakdown is as follows:

Movie Budgets
"Courage under Fire": $46m
"Saving Private Ryan": $70m
"Titan AE": $75m
"Syriana": $50m
"Green Zone": $100m
"Elysium": $115m
"Interstellar": $165m
"The Martian": $108m
TOTAL: $729m

Fictional Costs of Saving Matt Damon
(costs are in 2015 currency)
"Courage Under Fire" (Gulf War 1 helicopter rescue): $300k
"Saving Private Ryan" (WW2 Europe search party): $100k
"Titan AE" (Earth evacuation spaceship): $200B
"Syriana" (Middle East private security return flight): $50k
"Green Zone" (US Army transport from Middle East): $50k
"Elysium" (Space station security deployment and damages): $100m
"Interstellar" (Interstellar spaceship): $500B
"The Martian" (Mars mission): $200B
TOTAL: $900B plus change 

SEE ALSO: These were the top 14 illegally downloaded movies in 2015

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NOW WATCH: 2 Millennials watched the original ‘Star Wars’ for the first time

What the 'Spectre' credits would've been like with a Radiohead song that was never used

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Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke gave his Twitter followers a nice present when, on Christmas Day, he tweeted a song that he says was originally going to be in the opening for the latest James Bond movie, “Spectre.”

 

 

The film went with Sam Smith’s "Writing's on the Wall" instead, but thanks to the internet we can now see how the Radiohead song would play in the opening credits.

It fits surprisingly well. In fact, we kind of like this one more.

SEE ALSO: These were the top 10 illegally downloaded TV shows in 2015

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NOW WATCH: Here's why people are obsessed with 'Minecraft'

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker was originally supposed to be in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

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It sounds like Ewan McGregor wasn’t the only person from the “Star Wars” prequels who was supposed to appear in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Not long after director J.J. Abrams revealed that McGregor came in and lent his voice for Rey’s dream sequence in the new movie, it turns out the film’s concept artist, Iain McCaig, had Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker in two of the prequels, in mind when sketching one particular scene, which would've involved the ghost of Anakin.

According to ScreenCrush, this is how McCaig came up with the idea, as featured in the "Art of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'" book:

“‘When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.’ That inspired me to propose, for the first time, that Anakin’s ghost could come back […] If we see Anakin Skywalker, because he does flow back and forth between Darth Vader and Anakin, let’s see him as a character with a dark and light side. The reason Luke is this whole new entity is because he was the first to acknowledge his own dark side — that it was not separate from him.”

If you’ve seen the movie, you know that Anakin (as Christensen or Darth Vader) doesn’t appear in the movie, though Darth Vader's mask does make a cameo.

Which makes you wonder if this might be an option in future films.

SEE ALSO: Mark Hamill is protecting fans from faked signed "Star Wars" merchandise on Twitter

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NOW WATCH: Americans try saying the 58-letter town name that mesmerized the internet in 2015

15 things we just learned about the making of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

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Now that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is out in theaters, a myriad of books and novelizations Disney has been heavily guarding to prevent spoilers have also been released.

Among those books is "The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens," a fantastic look at the concept art, drawings, and ideas that went into the production of the film as well as interviews from concept artists who worked on the movie.

I definitely recommend the book if you were a fan of the film.

While we still have a lot of questions after seeing the latest installment of "Star Wars," the book helps shed light on some of the early inspiration for "The Force Awakens."

Here are 15 things we learned while reading "The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Warning: There are some spoilers ahead if you haven't seen the film.

Rey was originally called Kira.

Many concept images of Rey are labeled as Kira in the book. Screenwriter Michael Arndt ("Toy Story 3") described the character as a "loner, hothead, gear-head, badass."



Finn's character was named Sam and he was going to be rescued by aliens on Jakku.

After Poe and Finn crash land on Jakku early in the film, Finn — then known as Sam — was going to be rescued by an alien tribe and reborn a hero. Yeah, it sounds a bit out of place.



There were plans for a double-colored lightsaber.

Coproduction designer Rick Carter came up with the idea of a dual lightsaber that was red on one end and blue on the other.

"Early on, Rick was really keen on bringing this concept of fire and ice together visually. He suggested, because I had one lightsaber that was blue, 'Why don't we make it a double lightsaber?'" said concept artist Erik Tiemens.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

I'm becoming convinced of a popular theory about Rey from 'Star Wars'

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After seeing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" twice over the last three days, I've had a lot of opportunity to digest the biggest question the movie left everyone with.

The biggest question is "Who is Rey?"

There's a lot of early speculation, but after taking more time to think about it, I think a common theory about Rey is likely true.

I'll explain why below, but don't even think about reading more if you haven't seen the movie yet. It's all spoilers from here.

rey star wars force awakens

Here's the theory: Rey is Kylo Ren's sister. We learn relatively early on in the movie that Kylo Ren is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa. Kylo — his real name was Ben Solo before turning evil — showed early signs that he was strong in the Force, but was leaning toward the Dark Side. So Leia and Han decided to send him off to train with Luke Skywalker, who was working on building a new generation of Jedi.

Somehow, Kylo was seduced by a mysterious figure named Supreme Leader Snoke, and he decided to turn against Luke. Luke takes his failure to control Kylo personally and goes into hiding, giving Kylo and the new evil group the First Order a chance to increase in power and threaten the Republic.

So what does that have to do with Rey?

Here's my theory for Rey's back story:

Han and Leia had two kids: Ben and Rey Solo.

Ben is a few years older than Rey. Ben was somehow seduced by Snoke and turned to the Dark Side, becoming Kylo Ren. He killed the Jedi training under Luke, and forced Luke to go into hiding. Han and Leia had no choice but to hide the 5-year-old Rey from Snoke and Kylo because she'd be an obvious target for them. So they had her dumped on the remote world of Jakku to fend for herself. That forced Kylo and Snoke to spend all their time hunting Luke instead of an easy target like Rey.

han solo star wars

Kylo was too busy turning to the Dark Side to ever know Han and Leia had another child. Remember, Han and Leia sent Kylo away to train with Luke when he started showing signs he couldn't control the darkness in him. He probably had no contact at all with his parents during these years. After Kylo turns, Han and Leia are forced to pretend that they never even had a second child in order to make sure she remains safe.

Now fast-forward about 15 years to the events in "The Force Awakens."

There's a lot of evidence pointing to the connection between Rey and Kylo.

In the third act of the movie, Rey discovers she has Force powers when Kylo attempts to probe her mind using the Force. It's as if these two have a special bond and Kylo's probing awakens the Force inside Rey. She quickly adapts to her new skills, and by the end of the movie she's able to hold her own against Kylo in a lightsaber battle.

Kylo also becomes especially interested whenever someone reports that the "girl"— Rey — is nearby and has the droid BB-8. He probably senses the connection with her early on, but doesn't quite know what to make of it.

There's also a ton of evidence that the other characters around Rey know who she is.

Rey and Han have a strong connection from the very beginning. They finish each other's sentences. Rey intuitively understands how the Millennium Falcon works, possibly better than Han. When Han learns Rey's name, he gives her a knowing look and offers her a job.

When Han and Rey visit Maz Kanata's cantina, there's a moment when Rey steps away from the table to talk to Finn. Maz asks Han who Rey is, but before he can answer, the camera cuts away. We never learn what Han says.

But right after that, Rey feels Luke's old lightsaber calling to her from Maz's basement. If my theory is correct, Han probably told Maz that Rey is his daughter. Maz realizes the significance of that, and through her connection with the Force, she makes sure Rey finds the lightsaber. That'll lead Rey on a path to find Luke, become a Jedi, and put an end to all the madness.

lightsaber star wars force awakens

Finally, there's the moment when Rey and Leia meet for the first time. They hug. This is obviously because of a shared remorse over Han's death, but I think it's also possible Leia is overwhelmed with emotion after seeing the daughter she abandoned more than a decade ago.

In short, everyone around Rey is lying to her about her origins. It's the same thing that happened to Luke in the original trilogy. Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Luke's aunt and uncle knew Luke was the son of Darth Vader, but they deliberately kept the information from Luke to keep him safe. Even after Luke found out that Vader was his father, Obi-Wan and Yoda didn't tell him that Leia was his sister. Luke had to figure that out for himself.

It seems like the same thing is happening to Rey. She won't find out her true origins until she has completed her training with Luke and has to confront Kylo Ren again.

But there's one big caveat to my theory.

A lot of people think Rey could be Luke's daughter. I think that's also possible, but not as likely. But I'm going to hedge on my theory a bit so I don't look like a total fool in 2017 when "Episode VIII" comes out.

If Luke met someone and had a child with her, it doesn't change the theory I detailed above too much. In that scenario, Luke hid Rey on Jakku to keep her safe from Kylo and Snoke, and only told Han and Leia about it. Everything else is pretty much the same.

UPDATE: A few days after I wrote this post, I learned some new information that backs up my theory. In response to a question on Twitter, Lucasfilm creative executive Pablo Hidalgo confirmed that Kylo Ren is about 29 or 30:

Kylo Ren age confirmation

And in the new "Star Wars: Visual Dictionary" for "The Force Awakens,"we learn that Rey is 19.

So it's very likely that because of their age difference, Kylo and Rey are unaware they are siblings. Kylo was sent away at a young age to train with Luke when he started showing signs he was slipping toward the Dark Side. A few years later, Han and Leia had Rey. And by the time Rey was 5, things went south with Kylo and Han and Leia had no choice but to hide Rey on Jakku.

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Luke Skywalker originally had a different name, and it was changed because of Charles Manson

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luke c3p0If you're not entirely up on your "Star Wars" trivia, it may surprise you to know that Luke Skywalker wasn't actually the original name of the hero in the first 1977 film. Instead, writer/director George Lucas initially intended the character to be named Luke Starkiller — and that actually was his name up until a few months into production. So what happened? According to Lucas, it's all Charles Manson's fault.

This bit of "Star Wars" history was dug up thanks to Mark Hamill, who participated in a Q&A session on his personal Twitter account and brought up the subject of Luke Skywalker's original name. In response to this, Yahoo! dug up the answer as to why the character was changed and found a quote from George Lucas on the subject: "That I did because I felt a lot of people were confusing him with someone like Charles Manson. It had very unpleasant connotations."

What Lucas was presumably referencing was the murder of actress Sharon Tate by Charles Manson and his followers in the late 1960s. The idea of a "star killer" had much different meaning in society as a result, which ultimately forced the filmmaker to change the iconic character's name to "Skywalker." Even though nearly 40 years have passed since then, it seems that Mark Hamill still isn't a big fan of this decision, writing on Twitter:

What probably puts a smile on the actor's face, however, is the fact that J.J. Abrams is doing his part to resurrect the name "Starkiller" within the "Star Wars" universe. In "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," The First Order (the fascist group that has replaced the Galactic Empire) has constructed their own version of a Death Star that is called the Starkiller Base. This stronghold actually used to be an ice planet that was taken over and transformed to become a weapon that is capable of destroying entire star systems (hence the name).

SEE ALSO: Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker was originally supposed to be in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

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RANKED: Every 'Star Wars' movie from best to worst — and why 'Force Awakens' is 3rd

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With the release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," we have begun a new era in the saga. The franchise created by George Lucas has now been taken over by Disney, whose plan is to release a "Star Wars" movie every year for the foreseeable future — either a continuation of the original episodes or anthologies/spin-offs.

As "The Force Awakens" is now over the $1 billion mark worldwide at the box office and reviews are surprisingly ecstatic, it doesn't appear that people's enjoyment of all things "Star Wars" is going to wane anytime soon.

But how does the latest entry compare to the previous six? How do we size it up in the ongoing debate about the movies?

Here's my take on that age-old question: "Which 'Star Wars' is the best?"

SEE ALSO: The 10 most influential sci-fi movies of all time

7. "The Phantom Menace" (1999)

George Lucas has said from the beginning that "Star Wars" was made for kids, and he really took that to heart when he unveiled "Episode I — The Phantom Menace," 16 years after finishing the groundbreaking original trilogy. Introducing us to Anakin Skywalker at the age of 9 as he's plucked by Qui-Gon Jinn as the "chosen one" who will bring balance to the Force, the first prequel gives us a lot of tame action and unlikely scenarios for Anakin to be in, even in a galaxy far, far away. Sadly, the best part of the movie is its villain, Darth Maul, who has an incredible duel with the Jedi at the end of the movie. It's one of the only goose-bump moments in the whole movie — heightened by John Williams' score — and you have to wait over an hour to get to it. And at this point, the less said about Jar Jar Binks, the better.



6. "Revenge of the Sith" (2005)

The conclusion of the prequel trilogy is one of the saga's darkest. A now grown Anakin is seduced by the dark side of the Force and wipes out the Jedi, including the younglings (!). Padmé Amidala dies, but not before giving birth to their twins, Luke and Leia. But the most agonizing thing to sit through is Hayden Christensen's performance as Skywalker conflicted with the dark side — more a sniveling 20-something than a disillusioned "chosen one." We wouldn't get a good performance of that pull to the dark side until Adam Driver came along to play Kylo Ren in "The Force Awakens." Though we can only partly blame Christensen: Lucas was never big on giving actors instructions, which proved here to be costly.



5. "Return of the Jedi" (1983)

The final film in the original trilogy accomplishes what we needed it to. It closes that chapter of the saga by answering many of the questions that were floating around for years. But as a standalone, years later, it doesn't have the same impact "Episode IV" and "V" have. That mostly has to do with the introduction of the Ewoks, which makes for deflating sequences in the movie. And it's still a bummer to see Boba Fett die in the first 20 minutes.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here is how hedge fund giant Citadel predicts Hollywood hits

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"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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8 burning questions everyone has about 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and the most logical answers

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

Hopefully, by now you've seen the movie everyone is talking about: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." It racked up $1 billion in box office sales in record time.

If you haven't seen it, stop reading this article right now, go buy some movie tickets, and revisit this after.

If you have seen the new "Star Wars," you're likely left with more than a few burning questions. And if you don't want to wait until 2017 to get answers — that's when the next "Star Wars" episode is supposed to come out — then you're in luck. We're impatient, too, so we rounded up the best fan-theory answers to hold you over until Episode VIII is released.

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

Let's get to it!

Who is Rey and where did she come from? There are two convincing theories.

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 Ren. One 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 altogether (Obi-Wan's daughter?).

Still, there are two strong theories about her background: that she's Skywalker's bloodline or that she's the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia.

1. Rey is Luke Skywalker's daughter

The theory that Rey is Skywalker's daughter is supported by how strong the Force is with her and the fact that she's a great pilot, just like her theoretical dad. She's also drawn to Luke's lightsaber in the basement of the cantina.

Rey is almost instantly able to do things that took Luke Skywalker years of training to master — like commanding a stormtrooper to unlock her handcuffs so she can escape from Kylo Ren. This dad theory is also supported by the film's novelization — the book that Disney/Lucasfilm had to sign off on. While the digital version is currently available for purchase, the hardcover won't be available until January 5.

A Redditor transcribed some of the book detailing scenes with General Leia Organa and Rey in them. The transcriptions seem to suggest a more distant familial tie between the two — Leia and Skywalker are brother and sister.

For example, this excerpt:

Standing at the foot of the ramp, an uncertain and uneasy Leia found herself fiddling with the seals on the front of the jacket Rey was wearing. "Foolish nonsense," she told herself even as she continued. Unworthy of her status and position. But it felt so right, and so natural, to be doing so.

"I'm proud of what you're about to do," she told the girl.

Rey replied in all seriousness. "But you're also afraid. In sending me away, you're — reminded."

Leia straightened. "You won't share the fate of our son."

By saying "our son" instead of "your brother," some Redditors believe this implies Rey is not Leia and Solo's daughter.

2. Rey is Han Solo and Princess Leia's daughter

Then there's the "Rey clearly belongs to Han Solo" camp. Business Insider's Steve Kovach makes a strong case:

Here's the theory: Rey is Kylo Ren's sister. We learn relatively early on in the movie that Kylo Ren is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa. Kylo — his real name was Ben Solo before turning evil — showed early signs that he was strong in the Force, but was leaning toward the Dark Side. So Leia and Han decided to send him off to train with Luke Skywalker, who was working on building a new generation of Jedi.



Why was R2-D2 in low-power mode and why did he conveniently awake at the end of the movie?

Did Luke set R2 to awake when the time was right? Either R2 sensed that Luke's lightsaber was near or Luke let him know somehow that it was the right time for him to awaken.

Or perhaps R2 sensed Luke or the Force within Rey — he did come out of deep-power mode only after Rey made it to the Resistance base. He also conveniently woke up right after Han Solo was killed by his son, Kylo Ren.

J.J. Abrams and other writers of "The Force Awakens" explain why the little droid woke up so late in the movie. They say the new droid in the film, BB-8, led to it.

"BB-8 comes up and says something to him, which is basically, 'I've got this piece of a map, do you happen to have the rest?'" Abrams told Entertainment Weekly at a post-screening for the movie. "The idea was, R2 who has been all over the galaxy, is still in his coma, but he hears this. And it triggers something that would ultimately wake him up."

The directors played with the timing of R2-D2's awakening. At first, they wanted the little robot to appear earlier in the movie with C-3PO. But they felt, after viewers watched the depressing death of Han Solo, that they needed a beloved character to come back to life. And having R2 wake up at the end of the film was more climactic.



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 Plagueis died years ago, he was apparently so knowledgeable in the Dark Side that he could prevent people from dying. Plus, when he was alive, Plagueis was studying immortality.

Could he have found a way to bring himself back to life?

Here's how one fan on Reddit thinks it could have happened:

You create an illusion, or do die and self-resurrect, or are just gravely injured and able to heal using the Force. Now, as an injured/resurrected Sith Lord, you know you can't return and face your old apprentice one-on-one because he'll kick the crap out of you. However, youcan watch from the shadows as he eliminates the Jedi Order, builds up the Empire, draws out the Son of Skywalker, and self-destructs, leaving you the perfect opportunity to swoop in, corral the Empire's remnants, and take control of the galaxy without needing to do any real legwork. Then, knowing Luke is the most powerful (and still living) Force user out there, you find a weak point you can exploit to take control of that power--what better than a disenchanted, emo youth of the same bloodline? Turn that youth to the Dark Side, bring down the new Jedi Order from within, and move your pieces into checkmate position.

Seems completely plausible and would tie nicely into the prequels. A thread like that would actually give them some on-going relevance.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is now officially the highest-grossing 'Star Wars' movie

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After earning $31.4 million in North America on Monday, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" now has a domestic total of $571.4 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter

That now makes it the highest-grossing movie in the "Star Wars" franchise, not adjusting for inflation.

"The Phantom Menace" previously had the highest gross in the series with $431 million at the domestic box office over its lifetime and $1 billion worldwide, which "Force Awakens" has also beaten.

It is just the latest in mind-blowing records the film has broken since it was released on December 18.

The next will come in the next few days when it hits the $600 million mark at the domestic box office, making it the fifth film in history to cross the mark after "The Avengers" ($623.4 million), "Jurassic World" ($652.3 million), "Titanic" (658.7 million), and "Avatar" (760.5 million). And THR is projecting that the film could pass "Avatar" by this weekend.

Worldwide, "The Force Awakens" has earned $1.16 billion, now placing it in 10th place all-time

SEE ALSO: 8 burning questions everyone has about "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and the most logical answers

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Why J.J. Abrams is only directing one of the new 'Star Wars' movies — and regrets it

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It sounds like J.J. Abrams regrets not having a bigger role in the continuing "Star Wars" franchise.

"The Force Awakens" director will serve as executive producer on the next movie, "Episode VIII," but is passing the director's torch to Rian Johnson ("Looper"), who also penned the script.

That script is to blame for Abrams' regret, Greg Grunberg, an actor and Abrams' lifelong friend, told the Washington Post. "He read it and said something he never, ever says," Grunberg said. Apparently the script is "so good" Abrams wished he had written it.

"He may have said something one time on 'Lost,' with Damon [Lindelof], but I never hear him express regret like that," added Grunberg, who plays pilot Snap Wexley in "The Force Awakens." 

So why did he hand it over in the first place?

A fan posed this question on Quora and user David Mullich, an instructor at the Los Angeles Film School, provided some reasons for why Abrams likely stepped away:

"There are several reasons why J.J. Abrams only agreed to do one 'Star Wars' film:

  • Directing a film is hard work, especially a blockbuster like this. And especially after losing the battle against filming 'The Force Awakens' in England (he didn't want to have to move his family there during filming), he understandably wanted to take a break.
  • Disney wanted to release a 'Star Wars' 'saga' film every two years, and there was no way Abrams could have handled both projects when the post-production of one overlapped with the pre-production of the other. In fact, the workload for 'The Force Awakens' was so heavy, its opening was delayed from 'Star War's' traditional May opening month to December.
  • Abrams has a lot of irons in the the fire, and after having done a 'Star Wars' movie, he wanted to move on to one of the other projects he has in development."

Director Joss Whedon has expressed complete exhaustion over handling two of Marvel's "Avengers" films, saying it "broke" him.

Abrams had previously turned down Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy's offer to launch the new "Star Wars" films at all.

"I said ‘No.’ I didn’t want to do a sequel," Abrams told Howard Stern on his radio show. "I’d done a 'Mission: Impossible' movie; I’d done 'Star Trek.' I didn’t wanna do another sequel — I’m sick of movies with numbers... As a fan, I’d rather just go to the theater and watch the movie.”

But after Kennedy did some clever convincing, Abrams was in.

He also told Entertainment Weekly that his wife warned him he would regret not directing the film.  

Abrams confirmed to EW that he would also not return as the director for "Episode IX," (the entry following the Rian Johnson-directed film) saying, "No, I’m not going to direct 'Episode IX,' as much as I am deeply envious of anyone who gets to work with this group of people on the future movies."

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J.J. Abrams' favorite 'Star Wars' movie is a controversial pick

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What's your favorite "Star Wars" movie?

The general consensus seems to be the second one in George Lucas' original trilogy, "Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back," which had a jaw-dropping twist no one saw coming. In it, Darth Vader reveals to Luke Skywalker: "I am your father."

But if you've watched the new J.J. Abrams "Star Wars" movie, "Episode VII: The Force Awakens," it's not to hard to guess which of the six movies Abrams himself prefers.

Throughout "The Force Awakens," the filmmaker throws in numerous references, both in the actors' lines and in the plot, to the first-ever "Star Wars" movie, "Episode IV: A New Hope." The famous cantina scene is recreated in Abrams' own vision, for example, and Harrison Ford makes a joke about a trash compactor, which he, Chewy, Luke, and Leia all got trapped in during the first movie.

In terms of the plot, there's the fact that both movies have critical information stored in R2-D2, both have skilled desert pilots (Luke and Rey) who don't realize their destinies or their powers with the Force, and both end with the bad guys' headquarters (the Death Star) being blown up at the very last minute.

Abrams admits that while "The Empire Strikes Back" is a close second, "A New Hope" is in fact his favorite "Star Wars" movie ever made.

"My favorite movie is Episode IV,"the director tells Colldier in a video interview. "And I'll say that because as much as I desperately love 'Empire' — and it's hard to say 'Star Wars' over 'Empire' — 'Empire' is so standing on the shoulders of 'Star Wars.' Like if 'Empire' existed without 'Star Wars,' would it have been as strong? I don't know. The whole 'I am your father' [works] because we got two years of feeling and living and breathing with Darth Vader. So as much as I love that moment — it's maybe one of the best scenes of all time — the absolute sheer brilliance of everything George [Lucas] did in that first movie is what allowed for 'Empire' to exist."

Abrams admits "Empire Strikes Back" is more "beautifully lit" and has "some of the best moments in cinema ever," but he says the first "Star Wars" was so good, nothing like it can ever be accomplished again.

His favorite scene is also in the first "Star Wars" movie, Episode IV, not the second.

"It's so easy to go for 'I am your father,' because it's so profound," Abrams explains to Entertainment Weekly. "But I guess my favorite moment is Luke watching the two suns setting [in 'A New Hope']. It was a feeling that just galvanized the authenticity of that world."

Here's Abrams' explanation for why "A New Hope" is better than "Empire Strikes Back":

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Here's how the massive earnings from the new 'Star Wars' really get split up

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Though "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is making a killing at the box office, that doesn't mean the over $1 billion it's earned worldwide so far goes directly into the pockets of the filmmakers and studio Disney.

Not counting that weekly box-office reports don't generally factor in a film's production or marketing costs, the theater chains also split ticket sales with studios.

A studio takes an average of 53% of ticket earnings in the US, according to NBC News. But it seems Disney anticipated the worldwide smash "The Force Awakens" would be and was able to secure more than 60% of ticket sales.

In most deals, studios get a bigger cut in the beginning of a release — one reason why the opening weekends of movies are so important. Then over time, deals favor the theaters. With the higher-than-average 60% of tickets sold, Disney is making out very well through most of the film's theatrical run.

As the NBC story notes, theater chains aren't exactly crying poverty. The must-see attraction that "The Force Awakens" has become means more popcorn, soda, and other items sold outside of ticket sales that account for the main revenue of any Cineplex.

But what's most exciting about "The Force Awakens" to the theaters is that it could woo in people who haven't gone out to the movies in years. "Avatar" was credited with driving up moviegoing attendance over the three to six months after its release, and "Force Awakens" will likely do the same.

All of this means that if your movie has a trailer showing before the new "Star Wars," you're feeling pretty great right now, too.

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