Disney CEO Alan Horn gave a few new updates regarding Star Wars: Episode VII to Bloomberg's Jon Erlichman, which were first twitted out by Variety's Brent Lang. Alan Horn confirms that second unit production is under way in Abu Dhabi, while revealing that he is meeting with director J.J. Abrams in London this week to go over the script, and that future Star Wars sequels may revert back to the franchise's traditional release platform in May.
About the casting, Alan Horn reveals that the studio is not yet ready to announce though it is nearly finalized.
"We're not prepared to announce it yet but we will be very shortly announcing what we're doing....We did some second unit work in Abu Dhabi and other places, because we have all these locations we have to film and we have to give it that "Star Warsian," if I can use that as an adjective, look. So we needed to go to different places that give us the right look and feel and we did have second unit work shooting already but we haven't commenced the main part of principle photography yet."
About the release dates reverting back to May, the Disney CEO explains,
"No, we're not sure yet, we may revert. The Star Wars dates have been May, and we may revert to that at some point, it depends on the readiness of the screenplays or where we are, but this first one will be December 18th of 2015, so we'll start with that and we'll see."
He then went onto discuss the film's actual budget.
"We actually don't even have the completed budget yet. But it will be in that range. These large, tentpole kinds of movies, on the expensive side, are in the neighborhood of $175-200 million, that kind of a number -- some are more, some are less. We need to give the audience, essentially, a full meal in return for their affection and devotion and love for these properties."
Ever since Disney purchased LucasFilm in October 2012, franchise creator George Lucas has been considered a consultant on the new project, so the fact that this is being brought up now could suggest he has had a bigger role in the production than previously imagined.
"George Lucas is a consultant. The understanding is when he sold the company -- and he did sell the company to the Walt Disney Company -- so he's very aware of that. So we now are the primary drivers behind this property. But he is a very valued person. He's the father of all this. [Kathleen Kennedy] interacts with him, back and forth I think."
When Disney announced in November that Star Wars: Episode VII would be released on December 18, 2015, many fans were upset, since this is the first movie in franchise history that isn't being released in May. Alan Horn himself revealed in a statement that the release date shift was done to "ensure our extraordinary filmmaking team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture," while placing it in the lucrative holiday movie season. Star Wars: Episode VIII and Star Wars: Episode IX don't have confirmed release dates at this time, but it seems Disney is considering a return to the May release frame.
Earlier this month, we reported that production would start in Abu Dhabi in mid-May, but just last week, photos surfaced that appeared to show the foot of a massive All Terrain Armored Transport, a.k.a. AT-AT in Abu Dhabi.
We have heard that casting is "almost done" before, but, of course, it isn't known when Disney and LucasFilm plan on confirming any cast members. Many speculate that the cast will be announced on Star Wars Day, May 4 (May the Fourth Be With You), but that hasn't been confirmed either. With principal photography set to begin in just a few weeks at London's Pinewood Studios, it isn't known how many roles have yet to be filled. The only character that has been confirmed is R2-D2.
Do you think we'll finally get a confirmed cast in the near future? Do you thin all Star Wars movies should come out in May? Chime in with your thoughts below. You can watch the comments being made in the embed videos.