Lucasfilm Announces ‘Star Wars’ Will Return to the UK for Production of ‘Episode VII’

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

Lots of changes have taken place in the "Star Wars" universe in the past year – George Lucas sold his Lucasfilm company to Disney, 3-D reissues of the prequels and the "Clone Wars" TV series were both cancelled, and a new series of movies is in the works. But one thing will remain the same: Lucasfilm has announced that "Star Wars: Episode VII," on track to open in 2015, will be shot in Great Britain.

The studio work for the original "Star Wars" trilogy was done almost entirely in the UK, and for the prequels, interior shooting was divided between England and Australia. With shooting on "Episode VII" now in the planning stages, Lucasfilm has confirmed that they'll be heading back to England for work on the next film in the upcoming trilogy.

In a press statement, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said, "We've devoted serious time and attention to revisiting the origins of 'Star Wars' as inspiration for our process on the new movie, and I'm thrilled that returning to the UK for production and utilizing the incredible talent there can be a part of that. Speaking from my own longstanding connection to the UK with films like 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' 'Empire of the Sun,' and recently 'War Horse,' it's very exciting to be heading back."

Many in Britain are excited as well – not only is 'Star Wars' a prestige project, but it should mean lots of work for British technicians and actors, and will pump money into the local economy. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, met with Lucasfilm executives months ago about the possibility of the production coming to England, and it's believed that an agreement to give the company tax breaks helped seal the deal.

"I think it is a real vote of confidence in Britain's creative industries," Osborne told a reporter at a meeting of the G7 group of industrialized nations. 'And a big movie like that – one of the most famous, perhaps the most famous movie franchise in the world – brings with it not just jobs for actors and directors and so on, but for all the other people who have put together an enormous movie."

(Osborne also revealed his favorite character in the "Star Wars" universe: Han Solo. Note to Harrison Ford –don’t be surprised if the Exchequer's office invites you over for lunch at some point.)

And Warwick Davis, the Surry-born actor who played an Ewok in "Return of the Jedi" before moving on to the "Leprechaun" franchise and playing Filius Flitwick in the "Harry Potter" films, is happy to hear the "Star Wars" pictures are coming back to England. "I think that it's 'Star Wars' coming back to its roots, it's where it started all those years ago in 1976," Davis said. "It's really where 'Star Wars' was kind of born I suppose, and it's nice that it's coming back."