Development of Star Wars Episode VII
|Star Wars Episode VII|
|Directed by||J. J. Abrams|
|Produced by||J. J. Abrams
|Written by||J. J. Abrams
|Story by||George Lucas
|Music by||John Williams|
|Editing by||Maryann Brandon
Mary Jo Markey
|Studio||Walt Disney Pictures
Bad Robot Productions
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios
Star Wars Episode VII is an upcoming American space opera film and the seventh film in the Star Wars film series. Filming will begin in May 2014, and it is scheduled for release on December 18, 2015. It forms part of the planned third trilogy of Star Wars films, following chronologically in the series after 1983's Return of the Jedi. It will be the first Star Wars film produced under Disney's ownership of production company Lucasfilm.
J. J. Abrams is attached to direct the film based on a screenplay by himself, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt, and Lawrence Kasdan, who acted as writer on two films of the original trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Producers include Kathleen Kennedy and Abrams' long-time collaborator Bryan Burk. Star Wars creator George Lucas will act as creative consultant on Episode VII (and other new Star Wars films). It appears likely that cast members Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher from Episodes IV, V, and VI will appear in the film.
Lucas had story treatments for Episode VII (as well as for VIII and IX) which he turned over to Disney chairman Bob Iger around the time Lucasfilm was sold to Disney. No plot details of the film have been officially released; however, during the previous 35 years Lucas had given many hints about the content of the sequel trilogy, including the following (sometimes contradictory) possibilities relevant to Episode VII:
- Episode VII would begin roughly 20 (or perhaps 30-40) years after the end of Return of the Jedi (according to Lucas in 1980 and 1982).
- R2-D2 and C-3PO would be the only characters who might continue through all nine films (Lucas in 1980, 1981 and 1983).
- The trilogy would deal with the rebuilding of the Republic (Lucas in 1980).
- "It's like a saga, the story of a group of people, a family" (Lucas in 1980).
- Luke would have a romantic relationship with a female love interest (Lucas in 1988).
- The main theme of the trilogy would be moral and philosophical problems, such as the necessity for moral choices and the wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong, justice, confrontation, and passing on what you have learned (Lucas in 1983 and 1989).
- The key actors, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, would appear, in their 60s or 70s (Lucas in 1983).
Interviewed in 2012 after the announcement of the new trilogy, Lucas biographer Dale Pollock said that he had, in the 1980s, read the outlines to 12 Star Wars episodes planned by Lucas, but had been required to sign a confidentiality agreement. Pollock said:
- "The three most exciting stories were 7, 8 and 9. They had propulsive action, really interesting new worlds, new characters. I remember thinking, 'I want to see these 3 movies.'"
- The next film in the series would involve Luke Skywalker in his 30s and 40s.
- That he had little doubt Disney would use Lucas' outlines as the basis for the sequel trilogy. "That's in part what Disney bought."
Author Timothy Zahn, whose Star Wars novel series, the Thrawn trilogy, is set in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, was also interviewed in 2012. Zahn confirmed the sequel trilogy would not be based on the Thrawn novels, but said he had been briefed years before on Lucas' plans for the sequels (Zahn had discussions with Lucas before the first Thrawn novel was published in 1991). Zahn said, "The original idea as I understood it—and Lucas changes his mind off and on, so it may not be what he’s thinking right now—but it was going to be three generations. You’d have the original trilogy, then go back to Luke's father and find out what happened to him, and if there was another 7th, 8th or 9th film, it would be Luke's children."
In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek in March 2013, Lucas as much as revealed that Fisher, Ford and Hamill would appear in Episode VII. "We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison—or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation. So I called them to say, 'Look, this is what’s going on [with the Disney-Lucasfilm sale],'" Lucas said, before adding, "Maybe I’m not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them. I won’t say whether the negotiations were successful or not." Hamill confirmed similar information to ETOnline.com in February 2013, saying, "They're talking to us. George wanted to know whether we'd be interested. ... we haven't signed any contracts." Hamill said he knew nothing about the storyline. In March 2013, Fisher apparently said she had been signed for the film, but when this was reported, her representative said that Fisher had been joking and nothing had been announced. In September 2013, Robert Englund, actor and longtime friend of Mark Hamill, said that Hamill was currently working out in the gym. Englund stated "Mark now — they’ve got Mark in the gym, because Mark’s coming back as Luke Skywalker. They’ve got him doing his sit-ups." It was previously reported that both Hamill and Fisher had been assigned nutritionists and personal trainers to work with ahead of production. Producers were said to be fine with the shape that Ford was currently in.
In September 2013, casting calls were held in the UK for "Male, 7 ft. to 7.3 ft. tall with a slim/thin build and upright posture. Not too worked out or too 'thick set' especially in the shoulders. Broad facial features would be a bonus" leading to speculation that the calls were for a new actor to play the role of Chewbacca. However, Chewbacca's original actor Peter Mayhew has expressed interest in reprising his role, despite medical conditions relating to his gigantism.
Numerous other actors, including Ewan McGregor, Leonard Nimoy, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, when asked by interviewers whether they (hypothetically) would be interested in appearing in Episode VII, have said they would.
On October 1, 2013, 19-year-old actress Saoirse Ronan confirmed that she auditioned for a role. However, she also said "so has everyone" when asked about her audition and that the producers would "chop off her head with a light-saber" if she revealed any more information. The actress later said she did not get the role she auditioned for. On October 10, 2013, actor Michael B. Jordan also confirmed that he auditioned for a role in the film.
As of January 2014, many websites have been reporting that actor Jesse Plemons, best known for his work on Breaking Bad, has become a strong frontrunner to be one of the main new stars of the upcoming trilogy possibly playing Ben Skywalker, Luke's son. On January 19, 2014, Plemons denied the rumors during an interview at the SAG Awards saying "Yeah, I think it's just one of those crazy rumors".[better source needed] Abrams however confirmed that he personally met and read with Plemons, something he rarely does. Abrams said "He is one of the actors that we’ve talked to. It’s not often that I read about actors that i’m going to be meeting. I get to read articles about actors who were going to come in, so I get to see someone and say, 'Oh, I read that I was going to see you. It’s very nice to see you.' It’s usually agents talking to people about what’s happening. It’s just a lot of noise"[better source needed]
Abrams stated in a January 19, 2014 interview that casting would be announced "soon" and indicated that "I look forward to that so that we can get past it and we can get on with it."
On January 21, 2014, in an interview with TV Guide, Carrie Fisher further confirmed the involvement of the original cast by saying "as for the next Star Wars film, myself, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill are expected to report to work in March or April. I'd like to wear my old cinnamon buns hairstyle again but with white hair. I think that would be funny."
As creative consultant on the film, George Lucas' involvement includes attending story meetings. "I mostly say, 'You can't do this. You can do that,' ” he told Bloomberg Businessweek. "You know, 'The cars don't have wheels. They fly with antigravity.' There’s a million little pieces. Or I can say, 'He doesn’t have the power to do that, or he has to do this.' I know all that stuff."
On the film's official website, it was announced that both Abrams and Kasdan would be rewriting Arndt's script. Also, several other film crew members were confirmed on October 24, 2013, including sound designer Ben Burtt, director of photography Daniel Mindel, production designers Rick Carter and Darren Gilford, costume designer Michael Kaplan, special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, re-recording mixer Gary Rydstrom, supervising sound editor Matthew Wood, visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, and executive producers Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin.
In May 2013, it was confirmed that the production of Episode VII would take place in the United Kingdom. Representatives from Lucasfilm met with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne to agree to produce Episode VII in the U.K. The producers plan to use Pinewood Studios in England for studio shooting. Beginning in September 2013, production spaces in the Bad Robot facility were converted for shooting of Episode VII, for the benefit of shooting a minor portion of the film in the United States.
In August 2013, it was announced that cinematographer Daniel Mindel will be shooting the film on 35 mm film (specifically Kodak 5219), and that the film would rely on the employment of real locations and scale models over computer-generated imagery, in order to make the film aesthetically similar to the original Star Wars trilogy.
In November 2013, the film was given a release date of December 18, 2015, which is the second consecutive film not to be released in May, a month that is common with the first six films, following Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which was released in August 2008.
On February 11, 2014, Abrams planned a six-month shooting schedule.
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