The story begins thirty years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. The First Order has risen from the ashes of the Galactic Empire and is opposed by General Leia Organa and the Resistance, both of which seek to find the missing Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. In the midst of this search, new heroes rise in the form of Rey, a Force-sensitive scavenger from Jakku; Finn, a stormtrooper who defected from the First Order; and Poe Dameron, the best pilot in the Resistance. They are aided by Han Solo in their search for Skywalker and their mission to destroy the First Order's new superweapon, Starkiller Base, which targets the New Republic and the Resistance for destruction. They are opposed by villains such as Kylo Ren, a dark warrior with a mysterious past; and General Armitage Hux, the commander of Starkiller Base. The film's story will continue in Star Wars: Episode VIII and Star Wars: Episode IX on December 15, 2017 and in 2019, respectively. Despite initially claiming that the Star Wars story ended with the redemption of Anakin Skywalker in Return of the Jedi, and after spending years refuting speculation that there would be another film, Star Wars creator George Lucas began work on Episode VII in 2011 in order to increase the value of Lucasfilm before he sold it to The Walt Disney Company, although Disney would later elect to not use Lucas' story. The acquisition was finalized on October 30, 2012, and Disney and Lucasfilm officially announced Episode VII and the sequel trilogy the same day. Lucasfilm later announced that the film would be an original story not beholden to the continuity of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which was rebranded as the non-canon Star Wars Legends. The Force Awakens was released on December 17, 2015 in the United Kingdom, Mexico, Latin America, and Asian countries; December 18, 2015 in North America; and January 9, 2016 in China. Some North American theaters offered special limited advance showings on the evening of December 17th rather than the traditional midnight showing. The film received widespread critical praise upon its release and was a massive box office success, becoming the highest grossing film of all time in North America when not adjusted for inflation. Worldwide, the film is the third highest grossing of all time when not adjusted for inflation. It is currently the highest grossing sequel of all time and the first Star Wars film since The Phantom Menace to be the highest grossing film of its release year worldwide.