Almost no Bothan Spies were injured or killed bringing you this report.
At least, I hope that’s true. No one should get hurt over simply verifying some shooting dates, even on a film as highly anticipated as “Star Wars Episode VII: There’s Still Not A Title”.
Multiple sources now have confirmed for us that “Star Wars Episode VII” is set to start shooting mid-May and will run through September of this year, and most principal casting on the film is complete, with many announcements still to come. While Abrams had mentioned May during the TCA press tour and there had been speculation about the summer date, the full production schedule was finally confirmed for us.
If they wrap in September, that gives them over a year of post to build out the world that Abrams says he wants to make as close to the feel of the Original Trilogy as he possibly can. The thing that is most exciting to me about production dates is that extra added anticipation that we’ll have any time during those four months as we try to imagine what the cast and crew are doing at that particular moment. Is today the day they shoot that full-sized Millennium Falcon they’ve built? Is today whatever lightsaber battle you know Mark Hamill’s going to have to participate in? Are they shooting a scene with the ghost of Yoda today?
This goes back to my earliest thoughts as a film fan, those years between when I was seven and when I was ten, and between then and when I turned thirteen. Knowing that somewhere, there was a new “Star Wars” film being made, it simply made me almost permanently happy. It gave me permission to spend months dreaming about all the things that might happen.
What do we really know about the new film at this point? In terms of concrete verified fact? Very little. I hear pretty much everyone who could make a return will make a return. While I haven’t had it confirmed conclusively, I think that even includes Lando. Honestly, I am doing as little digging on this film as possible because I spent every single minute the prequels were in production soaked in spoilers, actively uncovering every bit of information I could, and I knew waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much about those films before they came out. That was my choice. That was my fault. I had waited 16 years for new “Star Wars” movies at that point, and I was basically insane at the thought that they were coming.
This time around, I’m sure I will hear things and see things, but I’m doing my best to wait. I want the box under the tree. I want to open it on Christmas morning. I’d like to be surprised. Right now, Lucasfilm’s full attention is on “Episode VII,” and while I’ve seen a number of outlets basically write off their coverage of this movie already, I think that’s crazy. I wouldn’t bet against this team. They all know what’s at stake here, and how much expectation there is on this moment. The prequels were a momentous occasion for “Star Wars” fans, but they were frustrating in so many ways that it’s hard to even get past the frustration to talk about what does or doesn’t work. The main thing that I think the audience struggled with, and more on a subconscious level than anything, was that they really wanted to be watching sequels, and there’s just nothing that can be done about that. What they really wanted was the continuation, not the backstory. And now, that’s what we’re getting, and if you think Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford aren’t actively involved in making sure that if they do this, there’s nothing “Holiday Special” about it. This is a chance to course correct in a way that few franchises ever can, and I love knowing I’ve got almost two years of that slow drip ahead.
Keep in mind, I’m saying this as a kid who was so bad at waiting for Christmas that one year my parents realized I had not only found my toys but opened them and played with them already, leading them to cancel Christmas essentially. Patience has never been my strong suit.
But starting about a week before my 44th birthday this year, I’ll be able to tell my little “Star Wars” fans that somewhere in the world, at that very moment, new “Star Wars” stories are coming to life in front of the camera, and they can pick up that manic excitement and get crazy and dream from now until we finally head back to that galaxy far, far away.
“Star Wars Episode VII” opens December 18, 2015.