Update: Disney has just announced a final release date for Star Wars: Episode VII: December 18, 2015. Start planning your entire year accordingly. Here's the official press release:
With preproduction in full swing, a confirmed release date of December 18, 2015 has been set for Lucasfilm's highly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII.
"We're very excited to share the official 2015 release date for Star Wars: Episode VII, where it will not only anchor the popular holiday filmgoing season but also ensure our extraordinary filmmaking team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture," said Alan Horn, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios.
Star Wars: Episode VII will be directed by J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek) and is being scripted by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi). Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, with Tommy Harper (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Jack Ryan, Star Trek Into Darkness) and Jason McGatlin (Tintin,War of the Worlds) serving as executive producers. John Williams is returning to score Star Wars: Episode VII.
Shooting is scheduled to begin spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios.
Previously: Whoa: 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Has Assembled a Hollywood Dream Team
News hit today Star Wars: Episode VII screenwriter Michael Arndt is stepping aside, with scripting duties now falling to Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back) and J.J. Abrams. Considering we know nothing about the actual script, it's silly to speculate what kind of impact this will have on the movie. Replacing Arndt with, say, the guys who wrote The Starving Games would be cause for alarm. But Arndt, Kasdan and Abrams have all already been working on the movie for months now, and while this may indeed have a huge impact on a script none of us will ever have access to, it currently has no impact on our understanding of what the movie might be like.
What does give fans a considerably better picture of what Star Wars: Episode VII will look like is the second part of today's news: the department heads.
These roles aren't nearly as glamorous as screenwriter, director or cast announcements, but these are the people who make the movie magic happen. And judging by the dream team producer Kathleen Kennedy has assembled, Star Wars: Episode VII is going to squeeze every ounce of movie magic there is from some of Hollywood's most unsung heroes. Just check out their list of credits:
Director of Photography: Dan Mindel (Star Trek Into Darkness, Spy Game, Enemy of the State)
Production Designers: Rick Carter (Avatar, War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park) and Darren Gilford (Oblivion, TRON: Legacy)
Costume Designer: Michael Kaplan (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Star Trek Into Darkness)
Special Effects Supervisor: Chris Corbould (Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception)
Sound Designer: Ben Burtt (all of the past Star Wars movies)
Rerecording Mixer: Gary Rydstrom (Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan)
Supervising Sound Editor: Matthew Wood (The Master, There Will Be Blood)
Visual Effects Supervisor: Roger Guyett (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Saving Private Ryan, Star Trek)
Composer: John Williams (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Jaws--basically everything great, ever)
Wow! Now that is a list of names to get truly excited about, and it actually tells us a bit about the movie. Those are all artisans who have proven time and time again that they are masters of blending practical filmmaking techniques with cutting-edge digital technologies. Obviously there was never any doubt that a new Star Wars movie was going to be a spectacle, but isn't it a little reassuring to know that the guy who conceived the rotating hallway in Inception is overseeing the special effects? Or that the person who thought to use a projection system for the best set piece in Oblivion is on board?
This is a roster of geniuses who have made their careers by thinking outside of the box and delivering audiences things they've never seen or heard in a movie before. These are the kind of names that reassure us that a new Star Wars movie is unquestionably something to be excited about. Maybe the script will be garbage, maybe it'll be absolutely brilliant. It is far too early to tell. The only thing guaranteed at this point is what you're actually seeing and hearing on-screen is going to be assembled by the filmmaking equivalent of the Avengers. And we think that's damned cool.
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