‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ to open Dec. 18, 2015

LOS ANGELES – It’s official – “Star Wars: Episode VII” has a release date: J.J. Abrams’ new film will open Dec. 18, 2015.

The news appeared in an announcement Thursday on StarWars.com.

“We’re very excited to share the official 2015 release date for ‘Star Wars: Episode VII,’ where it will not only anchor the popular holiday filmgoing season but also ensure our extraordinary filmmaking team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture,” said Alan Horn, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, in the announcement.

Late last month, word came that director Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan were taking over screenwriting duties on the newest “Star Wars” film from Oscar-winner Michael Arndt.

Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine,” “Toy Story 3”) had been announced as the original screenwriter for “Episode VII” last November, shortly after word surfaced that he had written a lengthy treatment for a trilogy of new “Star Wars” films.

Abrams was tapped to direct “Star Wars: Episode VII” back in January; Kasdan, of course, has a long history with Lucasfilm, as a screenwriter on “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.”

Shooting on “Episode VII” is scheduled to begin in the spring at Pinewood Studios.

Abrams and Bryan Burk are producing, with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers.

John Williams is returning to the “Star Wars” universe to write the score.

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