STAR WARS: EPISODE VII Update - Shooting Dates, Timelines, and More

Jason Gorber, Featured Critic
It's been some time since there's been solid information about the latest film in the Star Wars series, but we've now received information directly from the studio itself. 

It's been more than a year since the big announcement that J.J. Abrams was taking over the series, and yet details have been pretty sparse. Since that time, original screenwriter Michael Arndt left (or was asked to leave) the project, with his script replaced by one supposedly being written by Abrams himself along with The Empire Strikes Back / Return of the Jedi scribe Lawrence Kasdan.  

Casting rumours have swirled around the original cast playing roles in the film, with the inclusion of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford perhaps the worst kept secret of all. We also know that R2-D2 will be back; apparently, it'll be a model built by a couple of fans, but that's also in the realm of rumour.

As for new cast members, everyone from Adam Driver to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o have been mentioned, as well as the likes of Breaking Bad's Jesse Plemons and Attack The Block/Imperial Dreams' John Boyega causing much speculation.

For now, however, we know little more than what was presented yesterday at StarWars.com. First, we learned that the film will begin shooting this May. Starting in that month is unique for any Star Wars film, but it's hardly surprising given that the release date is set for December 18, 2015. Rather than a summer film, this will be set up to serve as a winter blockbuster, like the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit series, freeing the post-Memorial Day cinema season for a slew of comic book movies that Disney and others have planned for what promised to be a very busy year of films indeed.

The site also let us know the following:

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.

We don't yet know who will play this trio -- expect it be another boy-boy-girl setup, echoing the previous two trilogies -- but that hint about familiar faces once again isn't exactly subtle. My own expectation is that the old guys will show up briefly to provide a kind of continuity to those events of 30 years prior, but the vast majority of the film will occupy revolve around the new characters.

As shooting begins, expect more and more news to be carefully doled out - rumours will continue to fly, of course, and we'll continue to try to sort fact from fiction. It's a credit to the production that they've managed to keep the lid on quite a bit thus far, hopefully resulting in a film that will both surprise and entertain when it hits screens in about 21 months.
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