JJ Abrams has responded to Star Wars fans who have criticised The Force Awakens for its similarities in plot and structure to the original films.

 "I can understand that someone might say, 'Oh, it's a complete rip-off!', the director said in a  The Hollywood Reporter podcast. "What was important for me was introducing brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new — to go backwards to go forwards."

He added that he was prepared for some fans to take issue with some certain aspects of the film, but that these similarities were important to tell the Force Awakens story.

"We inherited Star Wars. The story of history repeating itself was, I believe, an obvious and intentional thing, and the structure of meeting a character who comes from a nowhere desert and discovers that she has a power within her, where the bad guys have a weapon that is destructive but that ends up being destroyed — those simple tenets are by far the least important aspects of this movie, and they provide bones that were well-proven long before they were used in Star Wars.”

And while it may have its critics, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now the biggest film in US box office history, passing the previous record holder Avatar.