Star Wars: The Force Awakens (also known as Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens) is a 2015 American epic space opera film produced, co-written, and directed by J. J. Abrams. The sequel to Return of the Jedi (1983), it is the seventh film in the "Skywalker Saga". Set thirty years after Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens follows Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, and Han Solo's search for Luke Skywalker and their fight in the Resistance, led by General Leia Organa and veterans of the Rebel Alliance, against Kylo Ren and the First Order, a successor to the Galactic Empire. The ensemble cast includes Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max von Sydow.
The film was announced after The Walt Disney Company's acquisition of Lucasfilm in October 2012. The film is the first Star Wars film to not extensively involve franchise creator George Lucas, who only served as a creative consultant in the early stages of production. The Force Awakens was produced by Abrams, his longtime collaborator Bryan Burk, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of the original trilogy films The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi, rewrote an initial script by Michael Arndt. John Williams, composer for the previous episodic films, returned to compose the score. Principal photography began in April 2014 on a $259–306 million budget and concluded the following November. Filming took place on sets at Pinewood Studios in England, and on location mainly in Abu Dhabi, Iceland, and Ireland.
The Force Awakens premiered in Los Angeles on December 14, 2015, and was released in the United States on December 18. It was positively received by critics for its screenplay, direction, lead performances, musical score, special effects, and emotional weight, although some critics found the film too similar to A New Hope (1977). The film grossed $2 billion worldwide, breaking various box office records and becoming the highest-grossing film in the United States and Canada, the highest-grossing film of 2015, and the third-highest-grossing film at the time of its release. It was nominated for five awards at the 88th Academy Awards, and received numerous accolades. The Last Jedi (2017) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019) followed The Force Awakens, rounding out the Star Wars sequel trilogy.