Star Wars

Disney’s upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII will take place 30 years after the events of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The timeframe was officially unveiled by Disney CEO Bob Iger during an earnings call on Tuesday. The gap between the two movies will leave room for old cast members to return, though nothing has been made official just yet. Principal photography is expected to begin this May, so more formal announcements are likely over the next few weeks.

According to Iger, Episode VII will feature a trio of fresh new leads, but also feature some “very familiar faces.” That’s a pretty good indication we’ll see Luke, Leia and Han return; scriptwriter and director, J.J. Abrams, apparently wants Episode VII to heavily feature the three familiar cast members before handing the reins over to younger faces in episodes VIII and IX. Some names have been attached to the project, but so far no cast members have been named. Including older cast members would make for a nice transition for the newer generation of Star Wars fans, and also act as a nice sendoff for the old guard.

In addition to the cast members being a complete mystery, we don’t even know what the next movie will be about. A new villain will be introduced, we know that. But how will everything be tied into the Star Wars universe? Will the lead Jedi be offspring of one of the previous characters? The film isn’t scheduled to hit theaters until Dec. 18, 2015, so we still have a long time until we find out. With principal photography expected to start in May, however, more information will likely start trickling out soon enough.

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.