STAR WARS: EPISODE VII Takes Place 30 Years After RETURN OF THE JEDI; Starts Filming in May

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Disney CEO Bob Iger decided to drop some big news during this morning’s earnings call.  In addition to revealing that sequels to Pixar’s The Incredibles and Cars are in the works, he provided a brief update on Star Wars: Episode VII, revealing that the sequel will take place 30 years after the events of Episode V: Return of the Jedi.  Moreover, and possibly even more surprising, Iger confirmed that filming on Episode VII begins in May despite the fact that not a single castmember beyond R2D2 has been officially announced.  Hit the jump for more, including the official press release.

star-wars-mark-hamill-harrison-ford-carrie-fisherWhile speaking during today’s earnings call, Bob Iger said that Star Wars: Episode VII will take place 30 years after Return of the Jedi and will star “a trio of new young leads along with some very familiar faces.”  He then went on to say that filming on the J.J. Abrams-helmed follow-up begins in May.  30 years is not a major timegap in between the original trilogy and this new trilogy of films, which makes it quite easy to involve Luke (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in the central plot of the film.

We know there was tension between original screenwriter Michael Arndt and Abrams over how much the original cast would be involved in the Episode VII story, with Abrams favoring a Luke/Leia/Ha-focused Episode VII before handing the reigns over to the younger characters in episodes VIII and IX.  Arndt was replaced by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan as screenwriter, which suggests that Luke, Han, and Leia will have a significant presence in Episode VII.

star-wars-return-of-the-jedi-posterVery little is officially known about the film at this point, which makes the May production start-date kind of shocking.  Adam Driver is the closest to a confirmed cast member we have right now, with multiple trades reporting that the Girls actor is in negotiations to play the villain.  Most recently, 12 Years a Slave actress and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o has been mentioned in connection with a role and a shortlist surfaced for the male lead, but again, nothing official.  If filming does begin in two months, expect more official press releases to start flowing soon.  That said, I also expected the official leads to be announced before the holiday break last year, so who knows at this point.

Read the most recent official press release below (via StarWars.com), followed by links to all of our recent Star Wars coverage:

Disney and Lucasfilm are excited to announce that principal photography on Star Wars: Episode VII, directed by J.J. Abrams, will commence May 2014, and will be based at London’s historic Pinewood Studios.

This will be the first Star Wars film to start shooting in the month of May. Lucasfilm has documented the first day of principal photography for every installment of the Star Wars saga:

  • March 22, 1976 – The first day of principal photography in Tozeur, Tunisia, for Star Wars. A crew of 130 ventures into the desert in 42 trucks and cars, including eight army trucks full of equipment. The first shot was completed at 9:35 a.m.
  • March 5, 1979 – The first day of principal photography in Finse, Norway, for The Empire Strikes Back. The crew endures the subzero temperatures, frostbite, heavy winds, and avalanches to pull off the first shot within 65 minutes of setup.
  • January 11, 1982 – The first day of principal photography at EMI Elstree Studios outside of London for Return of the Jedi. Although inside a studio, the set must weather a sandstorm in a scene that would ultimately be cut from the film.
  • June 26, 1997 – The first day of principal photography at Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire, England, for The Phantom Menace. Ending a long absence from the director’s chair, George Lucas shoots a sequence in a bluescreen-lined set with actors Ian McDiarmid and Ray Park.
  • June 26, 2000 – The first day of principal photography for Attack of the Clones at Fox Studios Australia. In their new home Down Under, the production crew once again photographs actor Ian McDiarmid three years to the day after Episode I started shooting.
  • June 30, 2003 – The first day of principal photography for Revenge of the Sith at Fox Studios Australia. The first scenes shot feature Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor as Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, respectively, along with R2-D2.

It has also been confirmed that Star Wars: Episode VII is set about 30 years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, and will star a trio of new young leads along with some very familiar faces. No further details on casting or plot are available at this time.

Star Wars: Episode VII will release in theaters on December 18, 2015.

jj-abrams-star-wars-episode-7To catch up on all of our Star Wars coverage thus far, click here. Peruse the recent links below.

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  • Jan

    Like Bigfoot, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • Obi Tangin Wann

      Like Bigfoot even when I see it I won’t believe it. ITs still amazing were actually getting a new Star Wars by JJ Abrams. The lack of any information makes it all the more unbelievable.

  • MrE

    Return of the Jedi is Episode VI, not V.

    • Runk Rambs

      Beat me to it.

  • http://www.youtube.com/somejackball somejackball

    so their characters will be 60ish, opposed to say, 80ish.. hope they got some amazing makeup artists!

    • brNdon

      What are you talking about? The furthest from 60 is Ford at only 71.

      • Doug

        And Han is about ten years older than Luke and Leia anyway.

  • spoilerdirector

    Harrison Ford may finally get his wish to die in a Star Wars movie.

    • Arthur Dent

      If he does, they better not make him go out like a bitch. Should be one last run for Han and the Falcon doing something highly important or something like that.

      • Lance

        The title of the movie will be “Greedo Strikes Back,” so that should be a clue…

  • Tom

    Filming begins in May. With so many actors in cast it will be such a minimalistic movie.

    • The Flobbit

      Looking forward to the first Star Wars movie to be a single-set, existential analysis of the complex relationship between man and robot. Expect Luke to turn up and muse on the fragility of life.

  • Cosmourge of Collider

    Pfft. Absolute stomach-bug diarrhea. Should’ve hired Nolan and his closet-gimp Goyer.

  • etguild2

    So what does this mean for the EU? Does this keep everything pre-Del Rey Books alive? Does the New Jedi Order stay intact? Or does everything go kablooey? I want to know how much of my childhood I wasted!

    • 80sRobot

      “Alternate timelines,” my friend. :)

    • Adam Brown

      pretty much all of it im afraid- i think we can now consider the eu is now-non canon

    • Doug

      There was a big thing a few months back from Lucasfillm that said they were going through all the EU and deciding what will be canon and what will be thrown out. (They didn’t say what was what yet.)

  • 80sRobot

    The original SW had 11 main characters: Luke, Leia, Han, C3PO, R2, Chewbacca, Vader, Tarkin, Ben, Uncle Owen, Aunt Beru.

    So let’s speculate that there may be a similar number of main characters in Episode VII: Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, C3PO, R2. That’s six. So, we may have 4 to 5 “new generation” characters…

    A young bad guy, as rumored that Adam Driver could play.

    Some young guy that Meth Damon or another actor could be in the running for.

    A female character that Lupita is in the running for, and rumored to be Ben’s child.

    Saoirse Ronan auditioned (though sadly she didn’t get offered a part, she said) where she was asked to pick up a light saber and look at it. Which female character is this? (Is this character still in the Abram’s script?)

    So that could leave one or two more: Perhaps at least one could be a child of Han and Leia, as was an early rumor from the Michael Arndt screenplay draft.

    • Faptain America

      Meth Damon: The Movie! I’d buy that for a dollar.

      • The Flobbit

        Meth Damon is the danger.

    • etguild2

      The script called for 2 more, Biggs Darklighter and Jabba the Hutt, that thankfully ended up on the cutting room floor back when Lucas believed in having an editor. Episode I had, what 16 or 17 major players? It spent a lot of time on unlikeable blobs like Gunray and Watto and was bloated as hell. The more contained storyline is much better, I agree, at least at this stage, and if fans respond to background players (like Wedge or Boba Fett), great, they can be built upon. Or almost totally ignored, like Mon Mothma.

      • 80sRobot

        I’m working with the number of around 11 major characters based on the theory (hope) that Abrams is going back to the more streamlined story telling of Episode IV and V.

    • Fahad Ali

      Actually Lupita is playing the child of Han and Leia.

      • ʝoe ßloggs

        You got the father wrong.
        Lupita is the love child of Lando and Leia.
        Triple L always wins!

        P.S. Funnily, she keeps her real name Lupita as the name of the character.

      • Fahad Ali

        Works for me. :P Lando’s the man!

    • Fahad Ali

      Actually Lupita is playing the child of Han and Leia.

  • God’s Diamond

    Dammit I thought it would take place immediately after return of the Jedi and they would use cgi to make Mark Harrison Carrie look younger. The ewoks would be celebrating and skeletor would pop out and kill them and say,”I told you I’d be back!” They would all look at him confused.

    Skeletor: “Eternia?”

    Han: “endor”

    Skeletor to Luke: “Adam?”

    Luke: “Luke Skywalker of tattooine.”

    Skeletor grabs leia and runs off.

    Obi wan “he must think you are a woman named Teela! ”

    Leia: “I’m not Teela!”

    Skeletor: “ass is ass!!!!!!”

    • bidi

      where do you get your pot?

  • The Destroyer

    My guess is all the actor’s have been cast, they are just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, and will announce them all at once at some big media thing. I won’t be surprised if some of the actors announced have never been on the “radar,” but they have said that almost every actor and actress in Hollywood has auditioned or met with producers.

  • Strong Enough

    i think tension might be the wrong word.

  • MathMan

    Takes place 30 years after Return of the Jedi, cost 30 times it did for the ticket.

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