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The new 'Star Wars' films: can Disney restore the franchise to its former heights?

Star Wars

The Walt Disney Corporation rocked the science fiction world when it announced it would produce a brand new trilogy of Star Wars films; purchasing the franchise, along with the rest of Lucasfilm Ltd, for $4.05 billion. Since the word first came down, we’ve learned that the first film, slated for 2015, will be written by Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt. We then learned that the subsequent two, spaced roughly two to three years apart, would be penned by The Empire Strikes Back co-author Lawrence Kasdan and the writer of X-Men: The Last Stand, Simon Kinberg. Finally, the big shocker: JJ Abrams, the director behind the recently-rebooted Star Trek franchise, would be directing the first film in the new Star Wars trilogy, simultaneously controlling the destinies of two of the genre’s biggest properties.

Hopes run high among the Star Wars faithful that Disney will be able to restore the franchise to its earlier heights. For its part, Disney has already moved to distance itself from the George Lucas-directed prequels: the company put off Lucasfilm’s plans to re-release Episodes II and III of the saga in 3D in order to focus "100 percent" on the new films.

30 updates and 2931 comments below.

Mar 18 2:21p

'Star Wars: Episode VII' will take place 30 years after 'Return of the Jedi'

A new Star Wars film is getting closer by the day, and Lucasfilm and Disney have just announced some new information on the status of the production. Episode VII — co-written and directed by J.J. Abrams — is set to begin shooting this May at Pinewood Studios in London. For the first time, however, the team is giving an indication of what fans can expect to see when the film hits theaters in 2015. According to today's release, it will take place 30 years after Return of the Jedi, which capped...

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Feb 26 4:10p

'Star Wars: Episode VII' may have found its villain: 'Girls' star Adam Driver

Star Wars: Episode VII may have found its villain. According to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, Girls star Adam Driver is nearing a deal to become the villain of J.J. Abrams' upcoming Star Wars film. Variety reports that the role will be akin to Darth Vader's throughout the original trilogy, and it seems that the villain will be expected to return in future installments. Though a deal is said to be close, it's worth noting that Driver's name has popped up a number of times recently for...

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Feb 24 8:30p

Liam Neeson returns to 'Star Wars' in this trailer for the final season of 'The Clone Wars'

In the wake of Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, many current Star Wars projects were cancelled, including the animated series The Clone Wars. The 13 final episodes will be debuting on Netflix instead, and in this new trailer we get a sense of what's in store. In the final season — dubbed "The Lost Missions" — actor Liam Neeson returns to the franchise to reprise his role as the slain Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn, where he directs Yoda to visit Dagobah, the same swampy planet that Luke Skywalker visits...

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Feb 12 10:49a

'Star Wars: Episode VII' expected to shoot from May to September

Star Wars: Episode VII will begin shooting in mid-May, according to HitFix, with filming expected to wrap by September. Director J.J. Abrams has already confirmed that work on the script is complete, and also hinted at a May start, but now we know the full shooting schedule. The director still hasn't revealed who will star in Episode VII — aside from R2-D2, anyway. Abrams did confirm that he's held discussions with Jesse Plemons of Breaking Bad about a potential role, and Michael B. Jordan,...

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Jan 20 7:12a

J.J. Abrams confirms 'Star Wars Episode VII' script is complete

J.J. Abrams' vision for a Star Wars sequel is one step closer to theaters today, as the director reveals the script for Star Wars Episode VII is complete. "We're working really hard and we've got our script and we're in deep prep," Abrams tells The Wrap, "full steam ahead, y'know."

Speaking at a press event for his new NBC series Believe, Abrams confirmed Jesse Plemons is being considered for a role in the sequel, saying he "is one of the actors that we’ve talked to." Plemons has long been...

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Dec 02 4:21p

'Star Wars' launches official Instagram account with Darth Vader selfie

Star Wars: Episode VII is still two years away, but Disney isn't wasting any time in ramping up marketing for the anticipated film. An official Star Wars Instagram account has popped up today, and its first photo is all too appropriate for the medium: it's a selfie of Darth Vader. No, it's not a photo from the film's set — shooting isn't slated to begin until next spring. But the Instagram account is a fun taste of Disney's plans to introduce the Star Wars universe it now controls to a new...

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Nov 19 4:37p

'Star Wars' fans hired to build R2-D2 for 'Episode VII'

J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy pose with R2-D2 builders Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples.

Lucasfilm has brought on a pair of Star Wars fans and enthusiast droid builders to create R2-D2 for a role in Episode VII. Lucasfilm's president, Kathleen Kennedy, spotted builders Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples at an R2-D2 Builders Club conference in Germany over the summer. "[Kennedy] posed for pictures with us, looked at all the droids we’d built and was very complimentary," Steeples tells...

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Nov 07 4:19p

'Star Wars: Episode VII' is coming December 18th, 2015

It took a while, but we finally have a date: Star Wars: Episode VII is coming December 18th, 2015. The date was announced in a blog post on the official Star Wars website, and it comes more than a year after Disney announced that it was acquiring Lucasfilm — and that more films would be on the way.

When Episode VII was first announced 2015 was pegged as the year, while the broad assumption was that the film would follow in the footsteps of other Star Wars films, and be released in May....

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1:50p

J.J. Abrams reveals reasons behind 'Star Wars' writer switch

Update: Disney has announced the official release date for Star Wars: Episode VII.

Last month J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over as the writers of Star Wars: Episode VII, leaving original screenwriter Michael Arndt behind. Reports surfaced soon thereafter that Lucasfilm was struggling with Disney's mandated 2015 release date, and it appears making that deadline may have played a role. Deadline reports that J.J. Abrams addressed the change during a media call promoting the new Bad...

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Oct 31 3:11p

Lucasfilm and Disney struggle over 2015 'Star Wars' release date

J.J. Abrams' new Star Wars trilogy has been widely anticipated among fans, but apparently no one is more eager for the film to hit screens than Disney. After the departure of screenwriter Michael Arndt last week, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the Episode VII script isn't close to ready, and much of the creative team has asked to push the release date to 2016 to accommodate the change. (The film was also a no-show at Disney's recent D23 conference.) But despite the widespread pleas,...

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Oct 24 3:31p

J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan taking over as writers of 'Star Wars: Episode VII'

Since the project's early days, the screenwriter for Star Wars: Episode VII was pegged as Toy Story 3's Michael Arndt. The Star Wars website has announced this is no longer the case, and that the film will now be written by director J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan. Fans of the saga know Kasdan's name well; he was one of the writers on The Empire Strikes Back as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark, and had previously been earmarked as a writer and consultant for other new films in the Star Wars s...

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Sep 12 8:17p

Disney says the spinoff 'Star Wars' movies are origin stories

Disney's CFO Jay Rasulo has shed a little more light on the spinoff Star Wars movies set to be released between entries in the new trilogy. In comments at an investor conference reported by Variety, Rasulo referred to the films as "origin stories," which could add credence to earlier rumors that they would focus on the characters of Yoda, Han Solo, and Boba Fett. The spinoffs were previously described as "standalone films... derived from great Star Wars characters that are not part of the...

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Aug 23 2:42a

Analog strikes back: next 'Star Wars' to be shot on film, not digital

Director J.J. Abrams, who recently signed on to direct the next installment in the Star Wars series, has shot his movies exclusively in film — and it turns out that won't be changing any time soon. Boba Fett Fan Club reports that cinematographer Dan Mindel discussed the use of Kodak film on the set of Episode VII at an industry event in Los Angeles this week, a bold move more than a half-decade after 4K digital shooting first became practical. Episodes II and III were shot digitally, so...

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Aug 11 3:25a

'Star Wars' fans left wanting after 'Episode VII' no-show at D23

It was Friday morning in Anaheim, California, and Disney CEO Bob Iger had just kicked off the company’s biennial fan festival: D23 Expo. "Now I know both from my own instinct, and from the applause that I heard earlier, that there are a lot of Star Wars fans out there," he said. The reaction was instantaneous: just that brief mention and the crowd was roaring.

"Now we’re just as excited as you are about Star Wars: Episode VII. In fact, we’re speechless. At least we’re going to be somewhat...

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Aug 05 9:47p

ABC and Lucasfilm in early talks about live-action 'Star Wars' TV series

Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm is already leading to a new trilogy of Star Wars films and an animated series, and it appears a live-action television show could be next. Reuters reports that the president of ABC Entertainment Group, Paul Lee, stated that ABC is in early discussions with Lucasfilm about bringing such a project to life. "We've started conversations with them," Lee said Sunday during the Television Critics Association press tour.

Disney has moved quickly to capitalize on the...

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Jul 28 1:18p

Take a first look at concept art from 'Star Wars Rebels' animated series

Less than two months after it announced the development of a new Star Wars Rebels cartoon, Disney-owned Lucasfilm is ready to share new details for the upcoming animated series. At a Star Wars Celebration Europe event in Essen, Germany on Saturday, Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni showed off new concept art, including a first look at the "Ghost" — the spaceship of the yet-to-be-named main character that will "play a big part in the series."

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Jul 27 4:54p

Famed 'Star Wars' composer John Williams confirmed to score seventh movie

John Williams, the Grammy and Oscar-winning composer who scored all six Star Wars films, will return for the seventh installment in the series. Star Wars: Episode VII has no name yet and is set to come out in 2015. Williams has not been briefed on the storyline, but he's still excited to work on the movie, which will be directed by J.J. Abrams. "I've loved doing the Star Wars films with all the fanfare and flourish," Williams, who also wrote the music for Jaws, Indiana Jones, and E.T., said...

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Apr 30 8:13p

J.J. Abrams expects John Williams to score 'Star Wars: Episode VII'

J.J. Abrams, director of the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, believes that legendary composer John Williams will reprise his role for the much-anticipated sequel. In comments made at a press conference for Star Trek Into Darkness, Abrams praised the work of current collaborator Michael Giacchino, but said that Williams is likely to return to Star Wars.

Apr 17 3:15p

New 'Star Wars' films to be released every summer, beginning with 'Episode VII' in 2015

Are you ready for a barrage of Star Wars films? Disney hopes so: according to multiple outlets, the company has just announced at CinemaCon that it will be releasing a new film in the universe every summer, starting in 2015. We had previously heard that Episode VII was destined for a 2015 release, but with today's development plans have become much clearer. Episode VIII should come out in 2017, followed by Episode IX in 2019. Meanwhile, the standalone films that will focus on particular...

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Mar 07 9:11p

George Lucas confirms 'final stages of negotiation' with original 'Star Wars' actors

Last October, George Lucas sold his production company Lucasfilm to Disney — and along with it, every piece of the Star Wars saga. Bloomberg Businessweek has a compelling look at the process behind the purchase, and what it meant to both Lucas and Disney CEO Bob Iger.

As the director moved toward selling the company, he tried to position Lucasfilm to continue successfully without him. Part of that involved opening discussions with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher to do new Star...

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Mar 05 7:31p

Carrie Fisher to return as Princess Leia in 'Star Wars: Episode VII' (update)

We've heard word that Harrison Ford will return as Han Solo in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, but that wouldn't be quite the same without his partner Princess Leia. There's good news, though — it looks like Carrie Fisher has told Palm Beach Illustrated that she will indeed reprise the role of Luke Skywalker's sister. When asked what kind of part she envisaged the character playing in the new movie, Fisher said:

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Feb 15 1:18p

Harrison Ford rumored to return as Han Solo in new 'Star Wars' film

Star Wars film rumors are flying hard lately, ranging from the now-confirmed reports that J.J. Abrams will be directing Episode VII to the refuted claim that Zack Snyder would be helming a film. The latest, if true, is big: according to Latino Review, Harrison Ford will "officially" return to play Han Solo in an upcoming Star Wars movie. Latino Review isn't a huge name in media, but they've broken major news before: among other things, they published a credible review of a planned Halo script...

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Feb 05 6:03p

Disney CEO confirms spinoff 'Star Wars' films are in the works

It's well known at this point that Disney and Lucasfilm are actively working on a new entrant in the Star Wars film franchise, known as Episode VII, as well as planning to continue the series beyond that. But in addition to keeping the linear Star Wars movies going, Disney CEO Bob Iger has confirmed that the much-rumored standalone movie is also in development. Speaking to CNBC, Iger said "I can confirm to you today that in fact we are working on a few standalone films, Larry Kasdan and Simon...

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Jan 31 12:02a

'Star Wars' producer: 2015 release not certain, 'the timetable we care about is getting the story'

Since word first broke of Disney's $4.05 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm, the estimated release date for the forthcoming Star Wars: Episode VII has been 2015 — but according to Lucasfilm co-chair Kathleen Kennedy that may not be set in stone. The Hollywood Reporter has an extensive profile on Kennedy, covering her long-standing collaboration with Steven Spielberg and including how she convinced director J.J. Abrams to take the Episode VII job. She describes a clandestine meeting with the...

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Jan 30 7:41a

J.J. Abrams wants 'Star Wars' sequel to tell 'personal, intimate, and emotional' story

Now that Lucasfilm has confirmed J.J. Abrams as the director of Star Wars Episode VII, fans everywhere are wondering what direction the Star Trek director will take the beloved sci-fi franchise. Star Wars Blog has collected some of Abrams' comments from the past six years, reminding us of the deep appreciation that the director has for Star Wars and sci-fi in general.

Back in 2008, Abrams said that his favorite thing about the films is their "ability to tell an incredibly personal, intimate,...

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Jan 28 3:58p

Lucasfilm reportedly nixes remaining 3D 'Star Wars' prequels to focus on new trilogy

While the focus this past week has been on what new Star Wars movies are coming, today it's on what won't be making it to theaters: 3D versions of the rest of the prequel trilogy. Deadline Hollywood is reporting that plans for a theatrical release of 3D editions of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith have been scuttled as Disney turns its attention to the new trilogy it has in the works.

The 3D version of The Phantom Menace was released in February...

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Jan 26 12:12a

Lucasfilm confirms J.J. Abrams will direct 'Star Wars: Episode VII'

The rumors were true: Lucasfilm has announced that J.J. Abrams will be stepping behind the camera for the latest entry in the Star Wars saga. The news comes via a lengthy blog post at the official Star Wars website, with producer Kathleen Kennedy stating that "It's very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie." Kennedy goes on to call him "the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an...

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Jan 24 4:56p

J.J. Abrams will reportedly direct the next 'Star Wars' film

Despite the fact that J.J. Abrams said he would not direct the forthcoming Star Wars films, The Wrap is now reporting that he will indeed take control of the next movie in the lucrative franchise. Lucasfilm and Bad Robot (Abrams' production company) have both refused to comment on this, but The Wrap claims that insider sources with "knowledge of the production" say the Star Trek director will take over the first Star Wars movies since Disney purchased Lucasfilm. Also reportedly in contention...

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Nov 21 5:44p

'Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi' writer hired for new 'Star Wars' trilogy

According to The Hollywood Reporter, writers Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg have agreed to write installments of the new Star Wars trilogy, and they will write either Episode 8 or Episode 9. Kasdan's already got some serious credentials under his belt: he previously co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Kasdan's counterpart Kinberg has written titles including X-Men: The Last Stand, Sherlock Holmes, and Jumper. The Hollywood Reporter says that...

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Nov 09 10:23p

Lucasfilm confirms 'Star Wars: Episode VII' will be written by 'Toy Story 3' scribe Michael Arndt

It seems Lucasfilm's forthcoming installment in the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: Episode VII, has found a writer. In a blog post today, Lucasfilm confirmed that Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine writer Michael Arndt would be penning the script. According to Lucasfilm, producers Kathleen Kennedy and George Lucas have already begun development discussions with Arndt. Late last month, Disney announced its acquisition of Lucasfilm for roughly $4.05 billion in cash and stock, with plans to...

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Oct 30 4:04p

Disney buys Lucasfilm, plans to release 'Star Wars: Episode 7' in 2015 (update)

Star Wars fans, you might want to sit down for this one — The Walt Disney Company just announced its plans to purchase Lucasfilm Ltd from George Lucas, with plans to release Star Wars: Episode 7 sometime during 2015. While there aren't any release dates yet for Episodes 8 and 9, those films will be coming as well — and the studio has even more beyond a new trilogy planned for the future.

The deal is a stock and cash transaction, with Lucas receiving about half of the $4.05 billion value of...

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