Star Wars: Episode VII Rumors: Lucasfilm & Disney Duel Over Release Date

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Moff Kennedy: Lord Iger, this is an unexpected pleasure. We are honored by your presence… 

Darth Iger: You may dispense with the pleasantries, Commander. I’m here to put you back on schedule.
Moff Kennedy: I assure you, Lord Iger. My men (and women) are working as fast as they can.
Darth Iger: Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them.

It doesn’t take much to get Star Wars fans riled up. The Hollywood Reporter posted a story on their website on Thursday that will appear in their November 8th issue. “Star Wars: Disney CEO Bob Iger’s Firm 2015 Date Leaves ‘Episode VII’ Team Scrambling” by Tatiana Siegel gives us a glimpse into the behind the scenes drama surrounding the filming and release of Episode VII.

Coming hot on the heels of the news of director J.J. Abrams and consultant Lawrence Kasdan taking over screening writing duties on the film, THR’s report plays into the all to easy to believe narrative that the wheels are coming off the production.

While it is quick for fans to react to the news and begin to panic over the future of their beloved franchise, this is a good time for fans of Jedi to remember to act like Jedi. Take a moment, take a breath, calm yourself and let us look at this news logically.

Disney has been rather open about their road-map for the Star Wars franchise’s film schedule. It is a very aggressive schedule given the visual effects that traditionally go into the films as well as the amount of time Lucas devoted to production before the release of the Prequel Trilogy.

Disney’s Star Wars Calendar:

  • 2015: Episode VII
  • 2016: Spin-off/Stand-alone film #1
  • 2017: Episode VIII
  • 2018: Spin-off/Stand-alone film #2
  • 2019: Episode IX

It has long been mentioned by Disney that they are looking at a summer 2015 release for Episode VII.  This timing would follow the Star Wars fan convention Celebration Anaheim in April of 2015 and be close to the traditional May release for Star Wars films.

There have been some rumblings that the film could be delayed until December 2015, but THR’s report goes farther saying the Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy wanted to delay the film until 2016. THR’s story indicates that while a possible delay of the project to 2016 was broached, the idea was quickly quashed by Disney’s CEO Bob Iger.

“According to those close to the project, producer Kathleen Kennedy and most of the film’s creative team have asked Disney to push the release to 2016, but studio CEO Robert Iger is adamant that Episode VII — perhaps the franchise’s most anticipated installment since 1999′s The Phantom Menace — not budge.”

Jeremy Conrad, editor of Furious Fanboys makes a good point regarding the motivation behind Disney’s timeline:


The fact of the matter is that a compressed production schedule doesn’t mean that Episode VII will suck.  The fact that Kennedy reportedly wanted to delay the film a year may be because she wants to make sure she gets it right and is being overly conservative.  Perhaps this is all spin to make a delay to a Winter 2015 release more palatable to fans.

In all likelihood this is a lot of histrionics about the normal give and take that goes on between studios, production companies and creative talent involved in making films. THR ends their story with the following quote from a “project insider” :

“It’s nothing out of the ordinary,” says the insider. “Almost every big movie changes writers at some point. There’s no drama here.”

I tend to think we will still see a summer 2015 release. Disney has this positioned perfectly to gobble up holiday shopping sales in the winter of 2015 and get the bonus of box office sales in the summer and home video sales before and during the holiday shopping season. After spending over $4 billion on the franchise, I can’t really blame Iger for wanting to maximize the productivity of the franchise for Disney.

We just hope that the pressure of a compressed production schedule creates a positive frenetic energy that leads to creative solutions to problems and innovations that deliver a great movie. If it leads to a less than stellar addition to the franchise, then there is always 2016 and the first spin-off film to turn things around.

 SOURCES: The Hollywood Reporter, Huffington Post, Hitfix