Putting rumors aside that Star Wars: Episode VII might be titled A New Dawn and that Benedict Cumberbatch may be playing a Sith villain in the new trilogy, we do know that Disney, Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams will be shooting the first new live-action Star Wars installment next year for a 2015 release.
We also know that after it releases, the Star Wars franchise will expand into new territory with spinoffs based on screenplays in the works by Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg according to Lucasfilm and Disney boss Bob Iger. Episode 7 is just the beginning in what we can now confirm will be annualized releases, and the first non-episodic project might be an origin story for Han Solo.
At the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, Disney CFO Jay Rasulo spoke on the topic of Star Wars explaining that the the market is "extremely hot" for any form of media pertaining to the brand from a galaxy far, far away.
In addition to increased revenue from licensing and expanding internationally with that avenue - and increased merchandising in various forms - Disney plans to make their first priority the crafting of a great live-action feature film to bring the saga back to theaters. According to Variety, Rasulo confirmed that the plan for Lucasfilm is to indeed have one Star Wars film per year, beginning with Star Wars: Episode VII and followed up by "origin story films" in between the trilogy installments.
The official word, although not specific, coincides with previous statements from Disney execs and reports claiming that characters including Han Solo and Boba Fett would get their own spinoffs, telling stories of their younger adventures. Bleeding Cool claims that Disney has already begun the casting process for a young Han Solo for what would likely be the first of the origin stories, a monumental task for the simple reason that it's almost impossible to picture another actor stepping into Harrison Ford's iconic Han Solo shoes.
If Star Wars Origins: Han Solo is in development for 2016 and casting has already begun, we can expect many announcements on the official Lucasfilm website in the coming year since production would need to begin in the next Star Wars film before Episode VII even hits theaters. More Millenium Falcon and Chewbacca the better, right?
In other confirmed and official Star Wars news:
- John Williams is returning to score Episode 7.
- Cinematographer Daniel Mindel will not be shooting Episode 7 digitally.
Star Wars: Episode VII is tentatively slated to reach theaters by Summer 2015, though it could wind up delayed until the Winter Holiday Season.
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