A beginner’s guide to Star Wars and its characters

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Star Wars’ sets N. America opening weekend record with $238 mn.

It’s a small line of dialogue that, potentially, exists merely to explain away the existence of John Boyega’s role in the movie — but the fact that Star Wars: The Force Awakens explicitly refers to the First Order moving away from using clone troopers is an interesting choice, to put it mildly. With an opening weekend take of $238 million in North America, and an astronomical per screen average of $57, 571, to quote a line from another successful film franchise, “Toy Story,” it has gone “To infinity and beyond.” Even on its opening today, “Force” took in $29.19 million.

Thus, I feel that using a SPOILER ALERT is probably not necessary, since you’ve either seen the new Star Wars or you’re not going on the Internet until you’ve seen the new Star Wars. Globally, the latest “Star Wars” space epic raked in an estimated $517 million, Disney said, breaking records for biggest opening weekend abroad in 18 other countries, including Russia and Germany, and second biggest across four nations. Watching General Hux choose to use a collection of Stormtroopers he trained from childhood — in many cases, stealing the children from their families and, it’s suggested, brainwashing them — instead of an army of clones is a momentary distraction. Not that it matters much, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” was a very distant second place at $14.4 million, followed by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s new comedy, “Sisters” at $13.42 million. While “The Force Awakens” drew enormous pre-sales, the film was kept under lockdown from the press and critics until mere days before it was released to the public.

It was a way to add some real emotional resonance to the trilogy — and, perhaps, a way for the rapidly ascending Hollywood superstar to avoid ever returning for another film. (Harrison Ford doing Return of the Jedi = Charlton Heston doing Beneath the Planet of the Apes.) In the fullness of time and the reboot cycle of Hollywood, Ford would return to the franchise that birthed his stardom. The trio of heroes who appeared in the first of the blockbusters in 1977 — smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), leader of the rebel alliance, and her twin brother Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) — are all back and played by the actors that “Star Wars” first made famous. “Our sole focus has been creating a film that delivers that one-of-a-kind Star Wars experience,” Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement Sunday. Rentrak’s Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian said that’s the key element that may push the film to the $2 billion mark by the end of its run.

Many are already going back for a second helping. “The enthusiasm has really turned into a cultural event,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s executive vice president of theatrical distribution. “It’s unbelievable.” “It feels historic. With Greedo, George Lucas famously reedited a scene so that the villain of the piece made the initial aggressive move so as to give the hero something to react against, in order to preserve his honor. The marketing team has embarked on a two-plus-year journey to create this event feel,” Hollis added. “It’s hard to think you could replicate this, but never say never.” “Many of the bigger films of the past few years have been driven by that often marginalized female audience,” Dergarabedian said. “This proves that if you put the right film in the marketplace, the guys will show up in big numbers.

Landing in third and also in its debut weekend was “Sisters,” starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as two siblings throwing one last party in their childhood home before it is sold. By establishing that Stormtroopers are factory-created drones, they become little more than robots, making the high kill-rate of our heroes somewhat less objectionable. You can still break records with one gender being the dominant one.” He predicted that over time, Daisy Ridley’s protagonist may help even the gender breakdown. It earned $13.4 million. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2,” the fourth and last movie in the blockbuster franchise that turned Jennifer Lawrence into a Hollywood megastar, earned $5.7 million, falling to fourth place in its fifth week in theaters.

Now, thanks to what is really just a minor change to an earlier softening of Star Wars’ own mythology, that’s slowly becoming as true in a galaxy far, far away as it is in reality. When they finally see each other, it’s on a catwalk overlooking an eternal chasm: Shades of another surprise father-son pairing, on Bespin, long ago. The film also played to a rather diverse audience, with 22 percent Hispanics and 19 percent African Americans. “Starting on Monday, 73 percent of K through 12 is out of school. A whopping 79 percent of audiences were female for the R-rated comedy – a solid indicator that the counterprogramming against “Star Wars” was in fact a wise choice. “A healthy box office needs something for everyone,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s president of domestic distribution, who expects a solid performance for the comedy in the weeks to come. This is the biggest overall weekend in box office history with combined grosses north of $300 million, putting 2015 in range of becoming the first $11 billion year in history.

Kylo Ren is now clearly pretty far gone to the Dark Side, although Star Wars being Star Wars, one can imagine that the potential for redemption lurks in his future. In the Expanded Universe books, they killed off Chewbacca — a “safer” execution, since he’s a beloved character who never talks or really adds anything besides reaction shots. (The Expanded Universe also invented the idea of the son of Han and Leia breaking bad, although there his name was “Jacen” because the ’90s were weird.) On a gut level, it was hard not to feel something, because Han Solo is Han Solo.

The setting for his final showdown was resonant — not just to Empire, but to that fight scene between another Ben and another blackmasked bad guy in Star Wars, when that film’s sage old mentor gets struck down. Like, for comparison, I started tearing up during the opening text crawl: When Han died, I found myself wondering why the guy who kept a gun pointed at Greedo under the table walked into a trap so open-armed.

The obvious answer is “This guy is his son, and he loves him.” But it’s a weird moment, because Kylo Ren and Han Solo have no clear relationship in the rest of the movie. This is their first moment onscreen together — and it’s not entirely clear what it was about Han and/or Leia that drove Ren to hating them both so completely. But it seems obvious that Han’s death will be the motivating factor for Rey and Ren in the movies to come — a variation of the Luke/Vader vengeance rivalry that plays out in Empire, before the Big Twist vis a vis Luke’s paternity. He used to not believe in the Force; now, the two young representatives of the Force’s eternal dichotomy will do battle over his metaphorical corpse.

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