Disney Chief Alan Horn Gives Update on ‘Star Wars: Episode VII,’ Talks Budget, George Lucas’ Involvement, and More

By April 22, 2014

It’s been a little while since we’ve written about Star Wars: Episode VII. There have been the usual rumors flying around, but the team that hosts our Far, Far Away podcast covers all of those so wonderfully each week, we figured we’d ease up on demanding some answers from J.J. Abrams, Disney, and the rest of the team. Clearly they’re working on their own timeline, and no amount of internet ink spilled will get them to reveal information any faster than they want.

But Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn spoke to Bloomberg TV today and gave the outlet a few tiny hints as to what we can expect, so instead of mindless speculation, let’s dig into Horn’s quotes and see what we can find out.

On the subject of casting, Horn (predictably) said, “We’re not prepared to announce [the cast] yet, but we will be very shortly.” OK, no surprise there. They’re starting principal photography next month, and they refuse to announce anything officially yet. At this point, I have to wonder if they’re going to wait until this year’s Star Wars Day, which is coming up very soon on May 4th, to make their announcement. It would certainly make a splash on the unofficial holiday.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the production would film in Abu Dhabi and Morocco in order to recreate Tatooine. You may have seen the set photos floating around over the past week or so that seemed to imply that AT-ATs would be stomping around the sandy planet; I refused to run them because I don’t like posting paparazzi photos and long lens shots captured out of context without the production’s consent, so that’s why you didn’t see them on GeekNation. Anyway, word came out a while back that filming had already begun, but Horn indicated that it was only second unit filming to capture that “Star Wars-ian” look. “We need 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 principal photography yet,” he said.

And not that this matters that much, but what about the budget? “These large, tentpole kinds of movies, on the expensive side, are in the neighborhood of $175-200 million – that kind of a number,” Horn said. “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.” Sounds a little like pandering to me, but I shouldn’t really expect anything less.

Alan Horn

One other interesting point to note: historically, the Star Wars films have been released in May, but this upcoming movie was bumped to a December release to give Abrams some more time to hone the script to a workable place. When asked if this December release will now become the norm for future Star Wars films, Horn said, “We’re not sure yet. We may revert – the Star Wars dates had been May, and we may revert to that at some point, but it depends on the readiness of the screenplays and where we are.”

And finally, Horn referred to George Lucas as “a very valued person” when it comes to Star Wars. That’s obvious, considering this whole franchise sprouted from his brain, but we haven’t really heard too much after word initially came out that Lucas would be consulting on the new films. Horn reiterated Lucas’ position, saying that Kathleen Kennedy (the new head of Lucasfilm) still interacts with him on a regular basis.

Again, not a ton of new information really being revealed here, but at this point, it’s noteworthy to hear anything official from someone in the know. What do you make of this Star Wars info? Are you getting tired of Disney withholding information about the production, or are you just over it at this point? Let us know below!

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at ScreenRant.com, FirstShowing.net, MySpace.com, GeekTyrant.com, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.