Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams appears to be further along on Star Wars Episode VII than anyone thought after Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn offered up one of the most revealing updates thus far regarding the secretive project at Disney and Lucasfilm that kicks off a new Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Horn was recently interviewed at the Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television in Los Angeles, CA as part of The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood Masters series. Interviewer Stephen Galloway did not shy away from asking the chairman the Star Wars Episode VII questions that Disney and Lucasfilm have purposely shunned to date.
When asked what the greatest challenge thus far in bringing Star Wars Episode VII to the big screen, Horn said that it was the “screenplay, screenplay, screenplay.” Michael Arndt penned the first draft, with Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams coming in after Arndt was dismissed to reshape the story and characters. After much work, Horn admits that the screenplay is finally where it needs to be.
Regarding the cast, Horn confirmed that most of the main cast is already in place, but that they are “not completely done yet.” Casting announcements are expected between now and May when shooting is scheduled to begin based on an official announcement by Lucasfilm and Disney.
However, Horn let slip that some shooting is already underway for the film. This is most likely background plate location shooting, but could theoretically involve something else, such as in-house visual effects photography.
Horn went on to say the story picks up where Return of the Jedi left off, which was 35 years ago in real-time. We already know the film will be set 35 years after Jedi, but the story in the opening crawl could theoretically fill in the 35-year gap to bring audiences up to speed.
Watch the Alan Horn interview Star Wars Episode VII portion below.