Get the Facts About "Star Wars: Episode VII"

Photo Credit: © 2013 - Lucasfilm
February 7th, 2014

"Star Wars: Episode VII" is the seventh installment in the Star Wars film franchise. It is to be directed by J.J. Abrams. The screenplay is written by Michael Arndt, Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams, and it has a budget of at least $200 million. This episode will not be an adaptation of any "Expanded Universe" stories; instead, it will have an original story. George Lucas remains involved as a creative consultant on the new "Star Wars" feature films.

Scheduled Release

Following the acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company in 2012, Disney announced that "Star Wars: Episode VII" is scheduled for release on December 18, 2015, just in time for the holidays. "Episode VII" will be followed by Episodes VIII and IX, and Lucasfilm intends to release one film in the trilogy per year. On November 9, 2013, Lucasfilm confirmed that pre-production had already begun on "Star Wars: Episode VII." The film is to be shot on regular film, as opposed to digital or IMAX, to more closely resemble the original trilogy than the excessive CGI in Episodes I, II and III.

Stars of the Show

R2-D2, the beloved, beeping, blue and white robot, was the first confirmed character for the new film, announced in November 2013. Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams are all confirmed to appear in Episode VII. In March 2013, Fisher announced her return as Princess Leia. On January 20, 2014, in an interview with "TV Guide," she mentioned that she, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill will all be reporting to work in March or April. Hugo Weaving is slated to play an Imperial Commander.

Other actors who have been linked, but not confirmed, include Jesse Plemons from "Breaking Bad," Saoirse Ronan and Michael B. Jordan. Leonardo DiCaprio declined a part in the space opera, while it is rumored that Disney still has an eye on Ryan Gosling and Zac Efron.

The Story

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the new episode has been revamped to focus on the iconic characters of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo. Arndt had planned to center the story around the children of the characters played by Hamill, Fisher and Ford, who then would have appeared in supporting roles. Kasdan, who also wrote "The Empire Strikes Back," has created a script set 20 to 30 years after "Star Wars: Episode VI" that centers on original stars, so viewers can enjoy them one final time before saying goodbye. The new characters, the children of the main characters, will play supporting roles in "Episode VII" and take center stage in the subsequent episodes. The new trilogy will supposedly bring closure to the Skywalker saga.

Behind the Scenes

"Star Wars: Episode VII" is being directed by J.J. Abrams, who is known for his work on the television show "Lost" and the more recent "Star Trek" films. As a creative consultant, George Lucas' role generally entails attending story meetings. Working with Lucas as consultants are Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan, who are slated to co-produce all three films of the upcoming trilogy. Kasdan also wrote "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." Costume designer Michael Kaplan, who worked with Abrams on the "Star Trek" films, is returning for "Episode VII." Film editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey have signed as film editors and also have a history with Abrams.

On the official website, it has been announced that both Abrams and Kasdan are rewriting the script written by Arndt, who left the project before filming began. Sources say his exit was based on difference of opinion, with his preference being to focus on the children of the three main characters.

The Music

After making several vague comments about his return, John Williams has been confirmed as the composer. During a February 9, 2013 concert with the Young Musician's Foundation Debut Orchestra, he expressed his desire to write the musical composition for the entire new trilogy. On July 27, 2013, a video of Williams confirming his part in the new film was released at Star Wars Celebration Europe II.

In January 2014, Lucasfilm announced that the movie is deep in pre-production and that the full cast is to be announced soon. Filming for "Star Wars: Episode VII" is slated to begin in April or May 2014. While rumors about the details of the new movie have been flying for months, Abrams keeps as much as he can shrouded in secrecy to maintain a sense of anticipation for the latest trilogy.