‘Star Wars: Episode 7′ to Film in the UK; Draws Inspiration from Original Movies

Published 2 years ago by , Updated May 12th, 2013 at 7:15 am,

Star Wars Episode 7 Returning Cast Members Pros Cons Star Wars: Episode 7 to Film in the UK; Draws Inspiration from Original Movies

Walt Disney Pictures, over the past few years, has reaped hefty profits by banking on nostalgia – with the purchase of Marvel and properties like The Muppets – while also successfully introducing beloved characters (be it Iron Man or Kermit the Frog) and their stories to a younger generation, in order to ensure the cash keeps on flowing in for years to come. The studio is hoping to achieve a similar outcome, after having purchased Lucasfilm and the rights to make Star Wars: Episode VII (for the price of $4 billion).

Disney announced from the very beginning that its intention is to release Episode VII by 2015, and the project – being directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness) from a screenplay by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) – remains on course to begin filming by the early going of 2014. That keeps it on track to become a heavily-favored bet in the 2015 Summer Blockbuster Season derby, along with the other Disney-backed tentpoles (The Avengers 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean 5, to be exact).

Filming on Episode VII will, in part, take place in the United Kingdom. The previous six live-action installments were all partially shot at Elstree Studios in London – except for Episode I – The Phantom Menace, which filmed at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden – with additional sound stage work taking place in famous locations like Shepperton and Pinewood Studios. Shepperton is also where director James Gunn will conduct green screen photography on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy this summer.

Here is the official statement from the Lucasfilm president and head producer on Episode VII, Kathleen Kennedy

“We’ve devoted serious time and attention to revisiting the origins of Star Wars as inspiration for our process on the new movie, and I’m thrilled that returning to the UK for production and utilizing the incredible talent there can be a part of that. Speaking from my own longstanding connection to the UK with films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun and recently War Horse, it’s very exciting to be heading back.”

star wars episode 7 uk Star Wars: Episode 7 to Film in the UK; Draws Inspiration from Original Movies

‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ was filmed at Elstree Studios in London

Kennedy’s line about “revisiting the origins of Star Wars as inspiration” is probably meant to be taken more literal than figurative here. Nonetheless, it’s in keeping with previous comments made by Abrams about his “indescribable, guttural passion” for Star Wars, as well as those by Episode VII consultant Simon Kinberg about his approach to scripting a spinoff film. Basically, the unspoken idea is that everyone is looking to the original trilogy (not the prequels) for inspiration.

Similarly, last week at the CapeTown Film Festival 30th anniversary screening of Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker himself (Mark Hamill) made an appearance and once again said that he is pushing for a retro approach on Episode VII:

“I’ve only had one creative meeting about the new films, but I do remember saying, ‘We’ve got to find a proper balance between CGI and old school [FX]. [Applause] That’s what the challenge is, is to try and meet expectations of what [the fans] want. I think there’s nothing wrong with CGI, but I think you have to have a balance, because the camera perceives the width and the depth and the weight – even if it’s a miniature model, the camera just realizes that. So when you have too much CGI and the clouds are CGI and the trees are CGI and the buildings are CGI, you’re getting to a point where the figure in the shot is like a hybrid of an animated film and live-action. And I want it to have an organic look so that we don’t get into Roger Rabbit territory. [laughs] But I don’t imagine that the priority is what I want!”

Fortunately, with Abrams directing, the expectation is that Episode VII will combine practical sets (ex. spaceship and building interiors) with CGI used more sparingly and when necessary (ex. vast landscape panoramas and outer space shots), like in Abrams’ Star Trek movies. So, Hamill may get that wish granted after all.


Star Wars: Episode VII is expected to open in theaters by Summer 2015.

Source: IGN

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: Star wars
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  1. Unfortunately this is JJ, and we’ve all seen what homage and originality means to him. A nearly shot for shot remake like Into Darkness ended up being with certain certain lines switched to different actors.

    • Star Trek isn’t the only movie he has done…

      Havent seen Into Darkness yet, but Im more confident with Star Wars in his hands than almost anyone else.

    • If your screenname is a spoiler, then you suck.

      • darn you for pointing out his name!!

        • It’s not my fault that your vision isn’t good. And, again, the op deserves the blame, not me.

          • maybe thats why the lens flares ?
            He wears glasses !

  2. SOOOOOOOOO… Is this article suggesting that this director is drawing inspiration from the original movies (“not The Prequels”)based on what the director actually said, or is this just hopeful speculation on behalf of someone who hates the prequels? Because, really, the prequels aren’t as bad as people say. In fact, they aren’t bad at all. Like the originals, they have flaws. The prequels mainly get hate from people who refuse to look beyond their nostalgic perspective, and I hope those peoples’ wishes aren’t prioritized over others when making this movie.

    • That’s JUST your opinion that the prequels weren’t bad. Many people, like me, think differently. I think the first two were pretty crappy, especially compared to the first trilogy. I thought that the third one was pretty good.

    • The prequels are terrible man. They have some great visual effects and well choreographed fight scenes, but they fail at a basic storytelling level. The dialog is awkward and boring. The first two movies don’t even have any kind of character arc, just brief hints that Anakin will become Darth Vader eventually. I mean, can you tell me who the protagonist of the Phantom Menace was? Honestly, I think you have it backwards: the only reason anybody likes the prequels is because they have the Star Wars name on them. The only appeal in the movies is that you can see things building up to the story told in Star Wars (albeit this is executed very clumsily). If you really think the prequels are as good as the originals, can you point out a character in the prequels as memorable as Han Solo. Or a moment as powerful as “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”?

      • @ not Zura…

        Actually I can point out a character as memorable as Han Solo. Anakin. This character (whether you like it or not) is famous for either destroying the prequels or adding drama to them. You also aren’t stating any true facts at all (about the prequels) so your argument isn’t valid. I like the prequels (not as much as the originals) but I don’t like them because Star Wars is in the title. The protagonist is obviously Obi Wan Kenobi because he alone vanquishes the sith Darth Maul, overcomes his own arrogance and trains Anakin as his padawan. I am merely stating that if you wish to prove that the originals are better (because they are) at least use facts and not your own opinion.

      • I can rise to your challenge: Memorable character? Ja-Jar. Rolling Stone put the actor that played him on the cover and titled it: “A Star in the Making.” Boy, did they hit the nail on the head. He’s done so many great films since then and has changed the landscape of Hollywood. For your quote challenge, I’ve picked a couple of special ones for you: “I’ll try spinning. That’s a good trick. Whoa-ah!” and, “Now that I’m with you again, I’m in agony. My heart is beating, hoping that that kiss will not become a scar.” Bam!

  3. Fundamental to the fun in the originals was the casting of relative unknowns in
    lead roles who clicked with the audience creating characters that carried later films.

    My concern is the how these original characters are used and to what extent
    because another new set of fresh faces is needed to give a fresh restart.

    • Couldn’t agree more with you !

  4. They better use real sets like he did with Star Trek 2009, rather than green screen every freaking thing like George Lucas.

    • I concur with your opinion.

    • No. J.J. will want to bet James Cameron.

  5. I can’t help but think how much money the actual sequel to Return of the Jedi is going to make at the box office!

    Definitely use real sets with CGI for backgrounds and aliens/creatures. Limited Jedi. Realistically, I don’t want a pantheon of Jedi running around like the prequels. A council of 5 maybe 7 Jedi including Luke and Leia or even smaller. Let Luke be finishing training on a student while investigating some disturbance in the Force when he is killed, ala Obi-Wan/Gandalf and let the adventure begin!

    I cannot wait for this movie! JJ or not, real sets or not, this movie is going to do serious business.

  6. Even in a Sci-Fi film where everything is based off imagination and suspension of disbelief using practical effects helps the viewer and even the actors ability to immerse themselves in what’s happening on screen.
    Of course there times when you have to use CGI but using it for everything makes it feel like your watching animation and that was one of the biggest issues with the prequels.

    • You nailed it kevin7. Practical affects always looks better only use cgi when you need to. The sky rescue scene in ironman looked amazing because it was a sky diving team

      • Practical affects doesn’t always look better. I’ve seen movies that had terrible practical affects.

    • Practical effects and models do look fantastic, but I hope you are not serious about that prequel comment. Yes the prequels had more CGI than the original trilogy (what modern epic sci-fi film doesn’t have more CGI than a film from the 70s/80s?).

      Say what you will about the films,But, EACH individual prequel film had more models/miniatures/practical effects than the entire original trilogy COMBINED. CGI was added to the environments, etc., particularly in space/battle scenes. To say that the prequels somehow used less models/practical effects than the original trilogy is just a patently false statement. So no, the prequels did not use CGI for “everything,” they used CGI in combination with more models and miniatures than the originals ever did. Many of the alleged “CGI animation” shots are actually models.

      • Say what?

        The practical sets in the original trilogy. Everything was built, Falcon, Cloud City Sets, Death Star interior, Death Star exterior shots of battle, Hoth Base.

        Real locations, real elements. That is what the ORIGINAL THREE Had, not the prequels.

        They froze their butts on Glacier in Norway. That was a real forest in Return of the Jedi.

        So, how can you say the prequels used more Practical sets, than the original when it took three years of production to get the feel right.

        • I said the prequels used more miniatures/models and practical EFFECTS than the original trilogy. Location shooting is in a different category. Location shooting was about even for most of the films, with the notable exception of Episode III, which due to the sheer number of different locations depicted in that film, obviously most of it was not done “on location” so to speak.

          As for Episodes I and II, there were massive amounts of location shooting. Tunisia, Italy, specifically The Royal Palace of Caserta were parts of MASSIVE location shoots for huge portions of Episodes I and II. Hell, the entire podrace scene was basically destroyed by a massive desert storm during the production of Episode I. The similarities to problems faced during the production of the original Star Wars are notable.

          My point is that people assume there is some vast chasm between how the prequels and originals were constructed. The models/miniatures were not just haphazardly replaced by CGI elements, they were used alongside them, and as I pointed out, the prequels uses more of said models/miniatures per film than the originals did.

        • True. It’s a lot easier to act like you’re freezing your butt off when you ARE freezing your butt off.

    • On that note, I just re-watched Attack of the Clones this week, and a lot of the integration of live actors, sets, backdrops and CGI characters is actually rather appallingly bad. It really has not aged well. That film looks very roughly cobbled together in parts. Great in some other parts, but my point is that all of the cutting-edge digital techniques used did not actually work together as well as I assumed that that had from memory.

      Frankly, I would rather just have a completely CGI film (or of course, one that uses CGI sparingly, and only when actually neccessary) than to have combinations of live and digital characters. It’s just visually noncohesive.

      The main thing is to put the storytelling first. Scenes should be shot to drive the plot and elicit emotion and so forth, not to showcase visual effects.

      • Cgi does not hold up over time, that is a part of why everyone loves 4,5,6. What you can do with Cgi always gets better so then what your left with is 2nd rate.

      • Which is funny when you compare films like the Lord of the Rings trilogy whose many effects still look great today( I literally just saw them for the first time a few months back). Its all due to the level of balance.

        The Avenger’s did well with much done in camera but some of its CGI would not age well in parts. Jurassic Park’s effects still look fantastic and in my opinion the standard to be matched, honestly.

        All is due to the amount of CGI effects in the screen along with its relationship to any physical or practical uses.

  7. So glad that Mark Hamill said that because why I too have nothing against CGI even feel that when properly used it really enhances the scope of the movie should not be featured in every single shot like George Lucas did with the prequels!!! I for one liked the prequels especially Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith!!! I actually like the foreshadowing of Anakin because it really brings all of the elements together!!! What bothered me the most about the prequels was really The Phantom Menace by making Anakin a little boy biggest mistake of the prequel trilogy!!! One other thing that bothered me was Padme’s Death for I feel it was not true to her character!!! She should have been given a heroic death like Anakin in Return of the Jedi not to simply lose the will to live after his tranformation into Darth Vader!!! That being said I think with J.J. Abrams as the helm Star Wars Episode VII is going to be fantastic with Mark Hamill Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford presumbly returning you cannot beat that trio!!! Michael Arndt writing with Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinsburg consulting and you have a great storyline whatever it is!!! My only concern is that it not be too kid friendly even though 12-15 year olds will always be the target audience Kathleen Kennedy has to remember adults like Star WArs also and has to have those elements which made Empire Strikes Back and Revenge Of The Sith so great!!!! You can have little Jedi Padawan’s in training scenes but do not have any of them as main characters ala Phantom Menace Anakin!!! With filming back at EMI Elstree Studios in England Star Wars has finally come back home!!!

  8. We need jobs here. UK gets the filming and first release. Obama and the Liberal Socialists really do have this country in a downward spiral!

    • Wes, I don’t think that your criticism is legitimate in this case. SW filmed every single prior SW movies in England, at least in part, except for phantom menace. So, the decision to film some of the scenes in England has nothing to do with either President Obama or liberals.

      • Our technical expertise is second to none where filming is concerned and Disney know this. They want to make sure the film is as successful as possible to spawn a whole new franchise, filming it here means that the phantom menace will be a distant memory, I’m with you – it’s got nothing to do with Obama etc or our tax breaks – it’s just that we make better films and have much better actors.

        • Woah there, sparky. I strongly disagree with your assertions. I don’t think that you Brits make better movies, have better actors or more technical expertise. It’s pretty implausible that a country of your limited size would have as many good actors as a country with 350 million people. .

          • Everyone has their own opinions of course but mine is valid. You name me a better actor than Daniel day Lewis and I’ll give you a dollar haha. Or perhaps a fairly modest comedien becoming the highest paid actor on TV, Hugh laurie, or perhaps Alec Guinness and Ewan Mcgregor? Perhaps a country of 350 million could not find a batman (bale) or a superman (Caville).

            • I forgot to even mention chris Nolan

            • Ha, no, my opinion is valid. There are numerous American actors who are better, overall in their careers than DDL, Alec and Ewan: De Niro, Redford, Pacino, Brando, Jimmy Stewart, Duvall, Douglas, Hackman, Hanks and Newman (I could name a lot more).

              As for younger American actors that are currently better than DDL and Ewan: Denzel, Leo, Damon and RDJ. Even if you disagree, simply bringing up DDL doesn’t mean that proves your point that there are more good British actors than American actors.

              Laurie isn’t the hugest paid tv actor. That goes to Ashton.

              • We will have to agree to disagree

              • And laurie was the highest paid – between sheen getting the boot and the dreadful kurcher getting the job.

            • Nolan is a solid director. But, he’s not as good as Scorsese.

              • Not a patch on Alfred Hitchcock

                • And of course Ridley Scott

                  • Nolan is 43 years old and has already done well, I think you’ll see the guy getting better and better as his experience grows.

                • Hitchcock is overrated. Scorseses’s films are better than his and definitely better than Scott’s.

                  • Hitchcock is overrated?? Man, that’s a bold statement. If he was a US citizen I’m sure that statement would not have been made

                    • And that is your opinion, to me Blade Runner is one of the greatest movies of all time

                    • Nah, I wouldn’t have a problem writing that if he were American. I think that Woody Allen is overrated, and he’s an American.

          • I find your arguement flawed as it seems a bit petty to assume one country has better actors or expertise, especially if you are going to base that on the size of countries and populations.

            But if really are going to go down that road, the influx of British and european actors working on US film and television is pretty astounding. If you are going to bring populations into the equation then Britain is punching well above it’s weight and winning.

            Do I really have to start listing actors names, movies and awards, because I hate typing long posts. (^-^)

            I know everyone likes to think their country is the best. Best at everything, but don’t let that blind you to obvious facts that other countries can hold talent to match and exceed your own.

            • So, you have no problem with Chris, who started this whole duscussion when he opined that the best actors come from the UK? Interesting…. I wonder why..,.. If you want to attempt at coming across as objective, you should write something to him.

              It’s not petty. A country of 350 million with a rich history of cinema will likely have better actors than a country with a much smaller population. But, even putting that aside, I strongly believe that there have been a lot more excellent American actors than British actors over the past 50 years.

              And, it’s stupid for you to throw in Europe as a whole, since Chris SPECIFICALLY mentioned “our”, so he was referring to the UK, not the entire continent of Europe.

              That’s just merely your opinion that Britain is winning. I strongly disagree, and nothing you dare to write will change that.

              If you want to waste your time by conjuring up a long list, go ahead.

              I am not blind at all. I’m not a jingoist. Britain is better at certain things, like making fish and chips.

              While the current crop of British actors, collectively, might have narrowed the gap with American actors to a certain extent, I think that, overall, there have been a lot more very talented American cinematic actors compared to very talented British cinematic actors.

              And, if you were objective tube, which I doubt, you’d instantly join me in criticizing Chris’s indefensible blanket statement that the best movies are made in Britain with British actors.

              • Not indefensible, it’s an opinion that I agree with strongly hence why I said agree to disagree. Having been to USA several times I love it over there but I’m very proud that British actors (at the moment) seem to get all the good parts in the face of 350 million people in competition. Walking dead is another one, Andrew Lincoln used to be in a drama called this life, not all that popular but I liked it, it got cancelled.

                • Oh and by the way – there are plenty of things we do better than the USA and fish & chips is only one of those

                • All of the good parts? That’s a massive exaggeration.

              • I never said Britain was the best, that’s why I included Europe, when really I should have said worldwide. British actors are as capable of giving great performances just as well as actors from any other country. British studios are equally as cutting edge as anywhere from the rest of the world. If it wasn’t they wouldn’t make such massive films here.

                You’ll find very often that the talent is worldwide and it’s the money that’s American. Hollywood is I believe the second or third largest producer of film worldwide, but No.1 in the west. Tax breaks issued by governments towards movie studios helps swing the balance when it comes between choosing between equally capable studios.

                By “winning”, I didn’t mean the best. As you pointed out how small Britain was, it certaily is winning in terms of the number of movies and tv shows with British actors in leading and supporting roles. Pretty good for such a small corner of the world. Now Australia is a huge country with quite a small population in comparison and their actors are doing really great at the moment.

                Many Hollywood films are set in America, about American life, so you’d expect American actors to outweigh Brits. However, it’s pretty surprising just how many Brits play Americans in many of those movies. Even Abe Lincholn was played by a brit, a role you really would think would have gone to an American.

                God, I’m actually boring myself with this post. Sorry anyone that may read it.

                It can be a bit of aknee-jerk reaction when someone says “I’m the best” to say.. “No I am!”

                • Like

  9. Inspired…? HA HA HA Hardly. More like LucasFilm is being cheap again and chasing after UK Tax Breaks like Marvel and Universal’s Fast 6.

  10. LucasFilm also failed to mention that the VFX work will be done in London and not at ILM. They’ve already started to layoff the staff in San Francisco and telling them if they want to work on the new Star Wars films, they’ll have to quit and move to London. They failed to tell them they need to apply at whatever VFX House gets awarded the project. But alas, the tax breaks are only viable if you hire the locals.

    That is not inspired like the original Star Wars films now is it?

  11. If nothing else, simply the fact that George Lucas is out of the picture (mostly…hopefully) suggests that the new films will hearken back more to the original trilogy. I cannot imagine that anyone else who might be involved with directing or writing can possibly be as detached from and/or disredarding of reality as Lucas.

    Yes, any Star Wars film, regardless of quality, will probably make tons of money, and appeal to young children. But a genuinely good film will also appeal to adults AND still appeal to young children. And it needn’t be hard to pull off.

  12. The best films are made here with British actors

    • That’s insane. The best movies ever made were largely made in the good ole USA.

  13. Just wanted to say, as a guy who really didn’t like Into Darkness at all, i sincerely hope that JJA will allow himself to be a bit more involved with the universe he’s trying to direct into. My point being.

    He openly states that, in the case of his Star Trek flicks, he’s not an original fan and wanted to make films that appeal to fans BUT mostly to people just like himself who aren’t really fans to begin with. That not essentially bad but this time around i really felt out of touch. I really don’t know why but the whole time sitting there in the cinema had me really annoyed with the movie. I couldn’t really connect with it. It’s something that was also there with the first movie but this time it was so much worse.

    Anyway, i really hope he will forego his twitch action style of directing in favour of a more traditional and well-informed style. Which is to say, eve if he’s not a fan he should REALLY do his homework for what Star Wars is. The very second i see a twitchy hand-camera take or lens-flare eye-cancer inducing shots of reflective hardware i’m gonna scream bloody violence.

    Some food for thought.

    • Did you see IM III too? If so, which one did you like better? And, no spoilers since I haven’t seen the new ST yet.

      • “Star Trek” for sure.

      • Iron Man 3, by far. You can tell that the actors really had a blast with this one. It’s remarkably vivid, much like part 1 for that matter, and i felt thoroughly entertained at the end of the credit roll and the teaser.

        On that note, i love what they did with the pre-credit rolls slideshow. The one that plays “Can You Dig It”. Absolutely fantastic.

    • Really?

      I’m a bit of a casual Star Trek fan, but I loved “ST Into Darkness”. There was a couple of cheesy “flipped” parts, but otherwise it was great. Chekov was really wasted though. What I really loved was for the first time on anything “Star Trek”, you actually got to see what life on earth is actually like. Star Trek used to do it so little, and when they did, it usually came across pretty cheesy. The world STID is set in seems realistic for once.

      In a way being a fan or reading too many fan speculations online will spoil the movie for you because somewhere along the line someone always posts a theory that is pretty much spot on.

  14. No matter how many things they do in pre-production, production or post-production in hopes to tie these 3 films to the first three….. no one can convince me these have any hope of rocking my socks off like George tried to promise the prequels would…..

    As I try to make fairly clear in my open letter and quiz @ http://rmcmillen.hubpages.com/hub/An-Open-Letter-To-All-Star-Wars-Geeks ….. they are bound to screw this up somehow….

    I hope I’m wrong, but I just don’t see it happening.

    • That has got to be the worst “Open Letter” i have seen in a long while.

    • I stopped reading when said you thought The Avengers blew chunks. You opinion is now invalid to me on any further topics.

  15. I like Mark Hamill’s comment about Roger Rabbit. Whatever happened to him? Now that Disney has the rights to SW, don’t be surprised if Roger shows up as a funny sidekick for the children. (Come on, it’s Disney – you don’t really think they WON’T throw a Jar Jar-esque character in there, do you?) :P

  16. More like the Originals than the prequels? More practical sets and miniatures than the prequels?

    Man, count me back into Star Wars.

    • Okay, okay… I read that open letter to Star Wars fan. I think I better damp my enthusiasm. I’ll keep an open mind, but… we’ll see what happens.

      There’s always video.