When George Lucas directed Star Wars back in 1977, the franchise wasn't yet a known entity and the movie's budget was a paltry $11 million - an amount that, even when adjusted for inflation, is far dwarfed by the $200 million+ production budget that Star Wars: Episode VII is estimated to have.
Director J.J. Abrams is no stranger to large-scale revivals of popular science fiction franchises, having directed both Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, and it's to be expected that he will bring a lot of what he learned from those films into the making of Star Wars: Episode VII. One filming format that Abrams has previously used and expressed a lot of admiration for is IMAX, since the large and weighty cameras enabled him to capture "huge and crazy-looking" images.
Last year, IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond mentioned that the company was in talks with Abrams' team regarding Star Wars: Episode VII being shot partly using IMAX cameras, and a new set photo tweeted by Abrams' production company Bad Robot has revealed that these plans were followed through. Showing an IMAX camera scanning the Abu Dhabi landscape (which is being used for scenes set on Tatooine), Bad Robot accompanied the image with the caption "#bestformatever."
Abrams is bucking current film production trends by shooting Star Wars: Episode VII on 35mm film stock rather than digital cameras. Using film cameras is more expensive and time-consuming than shooting on digital, but it's Abrams' preferred method. IMAX comes with its own share of limitations that would prevent it from being appropriate for use in all of the movie's scenes, as Abrams himself explained to press at the Television Critics Association earlier this year:
"The problem with IMAX is it's a very loud camera, it's a very unreliable camera, there's only so much film that can be in the camera. You can't really do intimate scenes with it. It's slow. They break down often."
So, #bestformatever, but also best used in moderation. Star Wars: Episode VII's director of photography is Dan Mindel, who also worked with Abrams on both Star Trek movies and whose other recent credits include The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Oliver Stone's crime drama Savages. All lens flare jokes aside, here's hoping that Abrams and Mindel have what it takes to revive the magic of the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars: Episode VII opens in theaters on December 18th, 2015.
Source: Bad Robot