After a recent announcement by Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, it appears that Star Wars: Episode VII is moving full steam ahead for release in 2015. The original start date was believed to be in May. The announcement was made by Horn when he was speaking during a Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television “Hollywood Master Series” panel earlier this month.
When Horn was asked if production on the highly-anticipated sequel would start next month as speculated, Horn stated, “We’re actually shooting some of it now.” The movie’s current script was drafted by director J.J. Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, the Lucasfilm and Star Wars alum whose resume includes Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The script was originally drafted by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt, whose credits include Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3. Talking about the story for Star Wars: Episode VII, Horn stated, “It’s all about the screenplay. It has to be screenplay, screenplay, screenplay.”
Last October, Lucasfilm and Disney revealed that Arndt was no longer on the project, and Abrams and Kasdan would be taking up the writing duties instead. Speaking on the change in direction on the movie’s screenwriting, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy stated, “There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a Star Wars story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.” One tidbit about the story Horn was willing to let go was that the events of Star Wars: Episode VII would take place 35 years after Return of the Jedi.
The news of Star Wars: Episode VII moving full steam ahead for release in 2015 was the first official news on the project for a while. During the panel, in which Horn revealed that the film has already begun production ahead of schedule, he also revealed that casting for the film is nearly complete, saying, “We have a lot of them [in place]. We’re just not completely done yet.” In a humorous impression of Yoda, Horn also added, “Patience you must have,” in regards to casting rumors, which for months have circulated about the cast of the lauded original trilogy, including that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher would all return to reprise their famous roles for Episode VII. Thus far, Walt Disney Studios has yet to make any official casting announcements or laid any of the rumors to rest. While Disney and Lucasfilm are still mum on the casting details, two other franchise alums are definitely confirmed to return. Academy Award-winning sound designer, Ben Burtt, will be back to create the sounds of the film. John Williams, who has composed all of the six previous Star Wars films, will be back on the conductor’s podium as the film’s music composer.
Regardless, fans at least know now that Star Wars: Episode VII is moving full steam ahead for release in 2015. Walt Disney Studios will be releasing Star Wars: Episode VII in theaters on Dec. 18, 2015.
By Jeffrey Harris