With fans and critics giving The Force Awakens the thumbs up, the cast and crew of the latest Star Wars film expressed "huge relief" as the movie rolls out in cinemas worldwide. The seventh episode of the popular sci-fi saga won over fans globally after months of secrecy surrounding the film, billed as the biggest movie release of the year.

Few details on the JJ Abrams-directed picture have been released, except some broad character outlines in the run-up to this week's release. As reviews were published on 16 December, following an embargo, cast and crew relished the positive feedback at the film's European premiere in London's Leicester Square after first hearing from the critics while travelling from Los Angeles, where The Force Awakens premiered on 14 December.

The positive critical reception to revitalising a franchise that began in 1977 and whose latest film came out 10 years ago was a "huge relief", said the film's producer, Kathleen Kennedy. John Boyega, who plays troubled Stormtrooper Finn, said he had not yet read reviews but was "glad to hear there's positive feedback". Newcomer Daisy Ridley, who portrays scavenger Rey, welcomed the reviews, but said there was one audience's views she was still awaiting. "I think it's wonderful that...everyone's work has been appreciated," she said. "I just want my family to like it."