Star Wars: Episode VII rumors have begun to spread like wildfire, in the absence of concrete information being made available; all the more so, because Episode VII executive producer/Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams are hunkered down in development on the project. As such, we've spent the past few weeks discussing casting rumors, possible returning characters and when, exactly, the next Star Wars live-action movie will open in theaters.
The latest word on Episode VII's theatrical premiere date is that the film could be arriving by mid-December 2015, despite Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn having reaffirmed a planned Summer 2015 release date for the blockbuster as recently as the 2013 D23 expo. However, a fresh rumor concerning the potential start of production date corroborates with claims that Abrams' Star Wars flick will be arriving later than originally expected.
Pre-production on Episode VII is said to be already underway in the UK at Pinewood Shepperton's Pinewood Studios just outside of London; meanwhile, Latino Review's sources are currently reporting that filming will begin on January 21st, 2014 (the day after next year's Martin Luther King holiday). This information aligns with what producer Bryan Burke said a few months ago, back when he first revealed that the project is progressing on a schedule to begin filming by early 2014.
The January date would (in theory) allow enough time for Episode VII to make a Summer 2015 theatrical premiere date. However, LR's sources are claiming that Disney/Lucasfilm has fallen behind on development with Episode VII, which is why the studios are now considering a Winter Holiday 2015 launch date instead. If so, that could explain the lack of any Star Wars updates or new information being provided at D23, despite the chance that principal photography could begin in the foreseeable future. (Meanwhile, WB is confirming Ben Affleck's casting as Batman in the Man of Steel sequel, almost two years ahead of the film's release.)
Truth be told, none of this feels out of the ordinary for a tentpole being directed by Abrams. Star Trek fans may recall that Star Trek Into Darkness (back before it had been officially-titled) was originally supposed to land during Summer 2012, but ended up being pushed back an entire year. Likewise, Benedict Cumberbatch wasn't announced as being the Star Trek reboot sequel's antagonist until (literally) less than a month before production got underway. Finally, Abrams - upon being hired as director on Episode VII - was reported to have made it absolutely clear to Lucasfilm that he isn't committed to a Summer 2015 release date at the expense of the development process (read: the movie's quality).
In other words, there's little reason to believe that Episode VII is in trouble, assuming that the release date delay claims are true. After all, Abrams' film will be kicking off the next era of Star Wars entertainment, so Disney and Lucasfilm have all the more incentive to allot the director enough time to make sure that Episode VII gets things started on the right foot.
Moreover, as others have pointed out, a December release date has proven fruitful for popcorn genre blockbusters like Avatar, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol; not to mention, it would allow Episode VII to bypass the competition in Summer 2015 (which already includes new installments in The Avengers, Jurassic Park, Terminator and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises, in addition to Man of Steel 2, among others). So, all in all, a change in release date strategy doesn't sound like a bad idea, as far as being something that Disney and Lucasfilm ought to consider (if they haven't already).
Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams, based on a screenplay by Oscar-winner Michael Arndt (Oblivion). It remains tentatively slated to reach theaters sometime in 2015.
Source: Latino Review
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