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Star Wars: Episode VII: Disney Head Talks Casting, Production, And Release Dates

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Star WarsBecause we can never hear enough news about J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, and because at times it feels like we’ll never know anything, it’s nice to finally have something pretty solid to report. Disney chairman Alan Horn recently ventured to London and dropped a few bits of news about shooting, casting, the budget, and potential future release dates.

It was Horn himself who, a few weeks ago, surprised the world by saying that the film has already started filming, and now, in an interview with Bloomberg, he offered up a few more details. Principal photography hasn’t started, which we all sort of figured, but the second unit has in fact been shooting in Abu Dhabi. We recently learned that the island nation-state will serve as the new stand-in for the traditional Skywalker home world of Tatooine—it was Tunisia in previous films. Horn also confirms that in addition to this location, the bulk of the shoot will take place at Pinewood Studios in London, England.

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Will Star Wars: Episode VII Explore The Expanded Universe?

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Star WarsWhen it comes to J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, all we have is an endless list of questions. We know when it will take place, that Chewbacca and R2-D2 will appear, and that it is reportedly already filming, but beyond that, we know next to nothing. In addition to the six feature length movies, there is a glut of material that forms the Expanded Universe of Star Wars, and many fans have speculated about how stories and characters from that world could influence or appear in the new movies—both the trilogy films, as well as the standalone features that have been announced. Over the weekend at WonderCon, the subject came up, and writer and producer Simon Kinberg gave us a slightly clearer view of what to expect, without actually revealing any specific information.

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Star Wars: Rebels Concept Art Channels Ralph McQuarrie

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Star Wars RebelsOver the weekend, WonderCon went down in the City of Angels (okay, it was Anaheim, but who is really keeping score?). Over the course of a couple of days we learned all kinds of fun information about some of our most anticipated upcoming movies and television shows. We saw a new clip from Disney and Lucasfilm’s animated series Star Wars: Rebels, and hot on the heels of that little tidbit, the studio has released a ton of new, never before seen concept art from the ostensible replacement for the now-cancelled Clone Wars.

Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni said that the look and feel of the new show will draw heavily on the work of Ralph McQuarrie. A designer and illustrator, McQuarrie, who passed way in 2012, was instrumental in creating the overall appearance of George Lucas’ legendary original trilogy. Take a quick scan of these images, some of which come from Filoni himself, and you can’t help but notice the influence of his work on Episodes IV-VI.

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Star Wars: Rebels Clip Show Hera In Action

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We’re still a long, long way from seeing director J.J. Abrams’ much anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII. Hell, we know that the damn thing is filming, but aside from R2-D2 and Chewbacca, we still know nothing about the cast, and sometimes it feels like we won’t until the lights go down in the theater opening night. However, until December 18, 2015—opening day for Episode VII—we’ll to content ourselves with Disney and Lucasfilm’s new animated series Star Wars: Rebels, and now there’s a new clip to pique our interest.

This video debuted at WonderCon, but quickly appeared online. The action shows Hera Syndulla, voiced by Vanessa Marshall, the Twi’lek pilot of a ship called the Ghost. Many have remarked that this particular spacecraft is essentially the Rebels version of the Millennium Falcon, meaning that it’s the main craft that will appear throughout the series. Hera has been described as a “strong-minded character,” one that “keeps everyone together when they would otherwise fall apart.” Does that mean she’s the leader, a leader, just a badass? That remains to be seen.

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Four-Year-Old Sci-Fi Fan’s Family Gives Him A Moving Star Wars Funeral

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Star WarsYou haven’t cried enough today. We’re about to fix that.

A few months ago, Doctor Who’s Matt Smith sent an adorable personalized video to one of his biggest fans, a four-year named Jack Robinson who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. And because a four-year old kid is way braver and more ambitious than most of us can ever hope to be, Jack set out to accomplish everything on his rather extensive bucket list. Though he recently lost his fight, Jack’s parents made sure that the last item on his got checked of by throwing him the most out of this world Star Wars-themed funeral you can imagine.

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Benedict Cumberbatch Denies He’s In Either Star Wars: Episode VII Or Doctor Who

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benedict-cumberbatchOne of the most persistent casting rumors surrounding Star Wars: Episode VII has been that Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch will play some role in the film. This notion first began circulating back in September of last year. Though he’s denied any involvement, given that whole, “I’m not Khan” thing from Star Trek Into Darkness, people have been reluctant to let the matter drop. So again, the actor has gone ahead and stated explicitly that he will not appear in Episode VII. And because he was in mood to take care of business, he also set the record straight on his participation in Doctor Who.

Reports were that Cumberbatch would have a very small role in director J.J. Abrams’ new foray into that galaxy far, far away, but that the part would grow and expand in Episode VIII and Episode IX. And while he very well may have talked to Abrams and the folks at Disney and Lucasfilm at some point, it sounds like so have half of the working actors in Hollywood.