Star Wars Episode VII is an upcoming American epic space opera film, produced by Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm, and Bad Robot Productions, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is intended to be the seventh installment in the Star Wars film series. The film stars John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Lupita Nyong'o, and Gwendoline Christie, with Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker reprising their roles from previous films.
It is planned to be the first of the third trilogy of Star Wars films, following chronologically in the series approximately 30 years after Return of the Jedi. J. J. Abrams is directing the film from a screenplay he co-wrote with Lawrence Kasdan, who acted as co-writer on The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. They replaced Michael Arndt, who left the project after initially being attached to pen the screenplay and previously writing the story treatment.
After The Walt Disney Company acquired ownership of Lucasfilm in 2012, plans for a sequel trilogy to the Star Wars films were announced. Episode VII will be the first film to be produced since the acquisition. The film is produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Abrams, and Abrams' long-time collaborator Bryan Burk. Star Wars creator George Lucas will act as creative consultant on Episode VII and other new Star Wars films. Second-unit filming began in April 2014 in Abu Dhabi and Iceland, with principal photography beginning on May 16, 2014, in Abu Dhabi, and will be primarily based at Pinewood Studios near London, England. The film is scheduled for release on December 18, 2015.
George Lucas turned over the story treatment for Episode VII (as well as for VIII and IX) to Disney chairman Bob Iger around the time Lucasfilm was sold to Disney. The treatment was written by Michael Arndt, who was also hired to write the screenplay. Brad Bird was considered as a director and had even been approached, but he was already committed to Tomorrowland. J. J. Abrams was announced in January 2013 as the director of Star Wars Episode VII, with Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg as project consultants. The production announced the exit of Arndt from the project on October 24, 2013, and script duties were taken over by Kasdan and Abrams.
Abrams cited time concerns over the change of writers. Abrams expressed relief that the release date was announced for December 2015 instead of the earlier spoken about Summer release time period. He said that the key to moving forward with the film would be for it to return to the roots of the first film and be based more on emotion than in explanation.As creative consultant on the film, George Lucas' involvement includes attending story meetings. "I mostly say, 'You can't do this. You can do that,'?” he told Bloomberg Businessweek. "You know, 'The cars don't have wheels. They fly with antigravity.' There’s a million little pieces. Or I can say, 'He doesn’t have the power to do that, or he has to do this.' I know all that stuff." In January 2014, Abrams confirmed that the script was complete. In April 2014, Lucasfilm clarified that Episodes VII–IX will not feature any of the storylines from the Expanded Universe, though other elements could be included as with Star Wars Rebels.
In May 2013, it was confirmed that the production of Episode VII would take place in the United Kingdom. Representatives from Lucasfilm met with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne to agree to produce Episode VII in the U.K. Beginning in September 2013, production spaces at the Bad Robot facility were converted for shooting of Episode VII, for the benefit of shooting a minor portion of the film in the United States. Costume designer Michael Kaplan, who worked with Abrams on his Star Trek films, will be working on Episode VII. Film editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, also long-term collaborators with Abrams, have also been signed for Episode VII. After several off-hand remarks on returning, John Williams was confirmed to compose the score for Episode VII.
In August 2013, it was announced that cinematographer Daniel Mindel will be shooting the film on 35 mm film (specifically Kodak 5219), and that the film would rely on the employment of real locations and scale models over computer-generated imagery, in order to make the film aesthetically similar to the original Star Wars trilogy. In October 2013, other crew members were confirmed, including sound designer Ben Burtt, director of photography Daniel Mindel, production designers Rick Carter and Darren Gilford, costume designer Michael Kaplan, special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, re-recording mixer Gary Rydstrom, supervising sound editor Matthew Wood, visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, and executive producers Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin.
In February 2014, Abrams said that filming would begin in May and last about three months. Sources told Hitfix that filming would wrap in September 2014. The official announcement came on March 18, when Disney and Lucasfilm announced that principal photography would commence in May and be based at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. In March 2014, it was revealed that pre-production filming would be taking place in Iceland prior to the start of official filming in May, consisting of landscape shots which will then be used for scenery in the film.
On April 2, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn confirmed that filming had already begun, filming in secret in the U.A.E. emirate of Abu Dhabi by a second-unit. Later in the month, it was revealed that in addition to 35mm film, segments of the film are being shot in the 65mm IMAX format. In early May 2014, the studio posted a selfie taken by Iger with Chewbacca. Iger stated the photo was taken while visiting Pinewood Studios two weeks earlier to discuss the shoot "which was just about to start" with Abrams, Kennedy, and Horn: "The cast was just assembling. We were looking at costuming and there was Chew[ie] and, of course, I had my iPhone in my hand." When asked about the ongoing rumors over the film's full title, Iger said "when we're ready, we'll tell everybody what the name of it is."
Principal photography first began in Abu Dhabi on May 16, 2014. Abrams and members of the cast went to Abu Dhabi in early May, where massive sets were built at the location, including a shuttle-like spacecraft, a large tower and a big market, and explosives have been used to create a "blast crater". Cast members have also been spotted around the location practicing driving vehicles they will use during the filming at the location. Production later moved to Pinewood Studios in June. On June 12, Ford fractured a bone in his leg while filming at Pinewood after a hydraulic door fell on him, and was subsequently taken to a hospital to receive treatment. Filming is expected to continue as planned as Ford receives treatment. Ford's son Ben released details on his father's injury saying that his ankle will likely need a plate and screws and that filming could be altered slightly with the crew needing to shoot Ford from the waist up for a short time until he recovers.[7