New Star Wars: The Force Awakens Poster Released

After several days of rumors and reports, Lucasfilm today released a new poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The poster was released ahead of the official announcement of tickets going on sale for the film's opening weekend, which should come with the trailer during ESPN Monday Night Football tomorrow night. With an official release date of December 18, 2015, the movie will actually start airing at 7pm on December 17, 2015 at many theaters.

The poster is only the second official theater poster for the film (though others have been released for giveaways). The first was simply a generic logo on a star field - as basic as can be. The other major poster release was at D23 Expo in August, when a Drew Struzan painted poster showed Finn (John Boyega) wielding Anakin Skywalker's original lightsaber, sparking speculation and excitement. It also featured fellow newcomers Daisy Ridley (Rey) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), as well as returning star Harrison Ford as Han Solo.

The new poster centers on Daisy Ridley's Rey, a scavenger on the planet of Jakku who seems to be a focal point of the movie. According to what's been released so far, she teams up with Finn after he goes to Jakku on the run from the First Order. He's also prominently displayed, wielding the blue-bladed lightsaber that once belonged to Anakin and Luke Skywalker to one side of Rey, while on the other we see the villainous Kylo Ren with his mysterious, firey red three-bladed saber.

In the middle of it all, we see Han and Leia (complete with cool new up-do), Chewie behind them, stalwarts C-3PO and R2-D2, the only characters who have been in all seven films, Teedo another scavanger from Jakku, Poe Dameron and his rolling astromech BB-8, and in the front, Captain Phasma and a couple of stormtroopers.

What's notably missing form the poster is any sign of Luke Skywalker, who has been kept very hidden and secret from promotional materials. The other images, platoons of stormtroopers, X-wings flying from explosions, the Millennium Falcon being chased by TIE-fighters, and new versions of Star Destroyers looming in the background should look familiar. The object behind Finn is brand new - and looks a lot like a moon or planet-sized destroyer of planets (yeah, okay, we'll say it - is it a new Death Star?).

Rey, like on the Struzan poster, is in the middle, and splitting the light side and the dark. Her staff lining the burning red light of Ren's lightsaber is especially notable. Could she be the one struggling along the two sides of the Force in this film?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, directed by J.J. Abrams, stars John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac as a new generation of heroes in the Star Wars galaxy alongside returning stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill. Domhnall Gleeson, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, and Gwendoline Christie represent the dark side of the force as members of the First Order.