Ten long years have passed since the last Star Wars film. The seventh installment in the space opera, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will open Dec. 18, 2015, in 2-D, 3-D and IMAX 3-D. The looming release has awakened the collective imagination of fans, with rumors, spoilers, media leaks and announcements swirling around the coming epic, which is set about 30 years after the end of The Return of the Jedi, which opened in 1983.The reasons it will make almost everyone finally forget the prequel trilogy:
10: Familiar faces...
Luke Skywalker, Leia and Han Solo are back! Mark Hamill (Luke), Carrie Fisher (Leia) and Harrison Ford (Han) will reprise their roles from previous films, along with Anthony Daniels (C3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Kenny Baker (R2D2).
9. And some new characters!
New faces join the fight! Finn, played by John Boyega, is a storm trooper, whose reaction to an extremely dangerous situation changes his life. Daisy Ridley plays Rey, a scavenger on planet Jakku, who does everything for herself until another character enters her world. Oscar Isaac plays Poe Dameron, the galaxy's most exceptionally talented X-wing pilot, who is sent on a mission by Leia and crosses paths with Finn. All are caught up in the adventure.
8. The next wait won't be so long
When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, it announced it would produce the third Star Wars trilogy. Star Wars: Episode VIII is scheduled to open on May 26, 2017. But next up will be a stand-alone film, Star Wars: Rogue One, set to open on Dec. 16, 2016.
7. Not everything is CGI
Enough with the computer-generated imagery. The Force Awakens relies more on real locations and scale models, with traditional special effects helping make it feel more like the original Star Wars trilogy.
6. Iconic musical score
Prepare for instant-recognition anthems. John Williams composed the score and purposely didn't start from scratch. Williams took the main characters' musical themes and built on them.
5. The anticipation already is frenzied.
On Nov. 28, 2014, Disney released a 90-second trailer that had critics praising the production values and the continuity with the original trilogy. It had a record 58.2 million views in the first week on YouTube and the iTunes store, and the raging debates about the new lightsabre's handle kept the movie in the media. A second trailer, this one 2 minutes long, was shown at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Calif., in April and had a record 88 million views in the first 24 hours of release.
4. The merchandise is already better
Want The Force Awakens merchandise? Toys, books, clothing, comics, collectibles, apps and "lifestyle accessories" are already available at mass retailers and Disney Store locations worldwide, as well as on DisneyStore.com. If fans can't make it to the store, they can follow the events on social media.
3. Record box office
Months before the release, analysts predict a worldwide debut of between $533.2 million and $539.5 million (Jurassic World holds the record of $524.1 million, set in June 2015) in 4,500 North American theaters (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse set that record with 4,468 theaters).
2. Delicious imaginings
Is Rey the daughter of Han and Leia? Aren't any of the heroes a Skywalker or a Solo? What is Kylo Ren's connection to the Millennium Falcon?Rumors keep popping up, while official announcements and teasers are doled out.
1. No more Jar Jar Binks
Need we say more?