The next chapter in the wildly successful “Star Wars” movie franchise will be produced in Britain, Disney’s Lucasfilm announced.
Original cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are expected to return to the UK to shoot the seventh film in the blockbuster series.
“Star Wars: Episode VII” will be the first in the series since Disney bought the studio from George Lucas in 2012 for $4 billion. It is scheduled for release in 2015.
The official confirmation by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy prompted the British Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) George Osborne to claim the force is strong with the British film industry.
In a statement, Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm president, 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.”
The company said representatives from Lucasfilm met with Mr. Osborne “to establish an agreement to produce Star Wars in the UK”.
Mr. Osborne said: “I am delighted that Star Wars is coming back to Britain.
“Today’s announcement that the next Star Wars film will be shot and produced in the UK is great news for fans and our creative industries, and it is clear evidence that our incentives are attracting the largest studios back to the UK.
“I am personally committed to seeing more great films and television made in Britain.”
Britain, as well as France and other European nations, offer tax credits to attract movie production, especially work from Hollywood studios.
Filming on previous Star Wars also took place in Britain at studios including Elstree, Shepperton and Leavesden.
Warwick Davis, who played an Ewok in 1983′s Return of the Jedi, said the announcement was great for the British film industry, and for British actors.
“I think that it’s Star Wars coming back to its roots, it’s where it started all those years ago in 1976,” he said.
“It’s really where Star Wars was kind of born I suppose, and it’s nice that it’s coming back.”
Last month Mr. Osborne hailed the UK’s creative industries, which generated more than $50bn a year for the economy and employ 1.5m people. as “massively important”, informs the Telegraph.
Director by J.J. Abrams will oversee production of Star Wars: Episode VII at studios and locations across Britain. Abrams most recently made Star Trek into Darkness and also directed Super 8.
The latest installment in the Star Wars franchise is based on a screenplay by Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt and is scheduled for a 2015, says the Daily Mail.
George Lucas – who launched the saga in 1977 and directed four of the six films to date – will serve as a creative consultant for the three new films, which are expected to come out every two to three years.