J.J. Abrams Star Wars Episode VIII
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SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains spoilers from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Do not read ahead if you have not yet seen the movie and want to remain unspoiled for major plot points.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has made more than $800 million domestically since its Dec. 18 release (making it the first film ever to do so), and is rapidly approaching $2 billion worldwide, but director J.J. Abrams says he’s more pleased with the experience of moviegoers than the box office success.

“I’m just incredibly relieved that the movie’s out and it was well-received, and I’m more excited when I hear that people went to see the movie with their parents who took them to see the original movie when they were kids, or who took their own kids who maybe had never seen a ‘Star Wars’ movie and who fell in love with Rey [Daisy Ridley] or found Finn [John Boyega] to be someone that they wanted to be for Halloween,” Abrams said on Tuesday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., where he was on a panel for “Roadies,” his upcoming Showtime series with Cameron Crowe. “Those kinds of stories are frankly infinitely more impactful and gratifying than all the numbers — which are wonderful, and I’m very grateful to everyone who went to see the film, but it’s mostly exciting to hear that people actually went and had the experience.”

Speaking to a group of reporters, including Variety, Abrams was asked, “Did it kill you to kill Harrison Ford?” to which he replied: “First of all, I didn’t kill Harrison Ford, just for the record.”

Following up from his joke (which may have hit a nerve, given Ford’s injury on set during filming), Abrams justified the decision to kill Ford’s iconic Han Solo in the most recent “Star Wars” installment. “We knew we needed to do something that was bold and maybe unexpected,” he said.

In a moment speaking solely with Variety, Abrams was asked if he had an opinion on our recent report on the shortlist of actors being considered for the young Han Solo spinoff, published yesterday. (Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort are among the actors being considered for the film, which will be released in 2018.)

“Nope. I wish I had something to say, but I don’t,” Abrams said, noting that he was not familiar with the Variety article. “I haven’t turned my attention to that.”

While Abrams — who has no involvement in the upcoming Han Solo standalone film, which is being directed by “21 Jump Street” helmers Phil Lord and Chris Miller — didn’t offer his top pick for the actor who should tackle the younger iteration of the character made famous by Ford, he offered some wry advice for whoever lands the role of a lifetime.

“Watch ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ Abrams said. “It’ll all be right there.”

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