Holiday movie season 2015 is going to belong to “Star Wars” fans.
After vague references to when the upcoming “Star Wars” installment, “Episode VII,” might appear, Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn confirmed on Thursday that the movie will be released on December 18, 2015.
“We’re very excited to share the official 2015 release date for ‘Star Wars: Episode VII,’ where it will not only anchor the popular holiday filmgoing season but also ensure our extraordinary filmmaking team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture,” Horn said in a statement.
Given the recent screenwriting shakeup, it’s not wholly surprising that “Star Wars: Episode VII” might have needed a little more wiggle room. In late October, it was announced that director J.J. Abrams and writer Larry Kasdan, who co-wrote “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” have taken over screenwriting duties from Michael Arndt.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy didn’t downplay Arndt’s effort, saying in a statement that she was “very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script. There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a ‘Star Wars’ story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. … Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point.”
Abrams, during a conference call with press about his new Fox show “Almost Human,” echoed Kennedy’s remarks.
“Working with Michael was a wonderful experience, and I couldn’t be a bigger fan of his … he was incredibly helpful in the process,” the Hollywood titan said.
It’s just that “working with Larry Kasdan, especially on a ‘Star Wars’ movie, is sort of unbeatable,” Abrams continued. “It became clear that, given the time-frame and given the process, the way the thing was going, that working with Larry in this way would get us where we needed to be and when we needed to be. That doesn’t preclude working with Michael again in the future at all, and I couldn’t say enough good things about him.”
“Star Wars: Episode VII” is currently in pre-production, and is expected to begin shooting in spring 2014.