Now that we finally have official word about the cast of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII, it looks like the production is kicking into gear. We have faces, many of them still without characters as far as we’re concerned, and it appears that some of them are finally going to be committed to film. We even mean actual film, not the metaphorical kind, because they’re not going to shoot digital. And this is all going to happen soon, as the film is scheduled to begin production in earnest this week.
We’ve heard that Episode VII would film in Abu Dhabi, presumably as a stand in for Tatooine, the home world of Luke and Anakin Skywalker, Jabba the Hutt, and the Jawas. English-language newspaper The National reports that Disney and Lucasfilm have set up shop in the desert portion of the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The production has been in the process of building some massive scale sets on location, and according to the report, principal photography is slated to begin on Tuesday, as in this Tuesday, May 13, and run through at least the end of the month.
Disney head Alan Horn already revealed that there was some second unit photography underway in the location, but it sounds like there’s a little bit more to it than that. The report indicates that a “whole world” has be constructed near a salt lake. This includes a “big, centuries-old-looking market,” which definitely sounds like something a weary space traveller might encounter at spaceport like, say, Mos Eisley.
It also sounds very much like there may be some action scenes on the slate as well. There are apparently ten to fifteen “really fast buggies” that also happen to be powered by jet engines, which sound like they could be landspeeders, pod racers, or something in that family of vehicles. In addition to those, there is also a “shuttle-like” spacecraft, and two trucks full of explosives have been taken to the set. That last bit sounds especially promising, and there is reportedly a large blast crater that has been manufactured just for the occasion. This has the makings of a battle, crash, or perhaps the aftermath of some similar event.
It makes sense that Tatooine could play an important role in Episode VII. The desert planet has always formed a key part in the Star Wars universe, popping up in multiple films, and linking various characters to one another. It may not be the central location for the film, but it’s starting to sound like it will figure prominently into the story in a pivotal way.
Security is tight while they put the finishing touches on the sets. That’s to be expected, we’ve barely heard a whisper from the production after all, they like to keep things under wraps. And there are tons of explosives just laying around, you want to keep the riff raff away from that. A few cast members, all unnamed of course, have already touched down and are practicing with the new vehicles and getting used to the lay of the land before filming begins.
While this isn’t much to go on, it feels so much more concrete and real than any of the myriad casting rumors we’ve relied on for our Star Wars fix over the past year-and-a-half.
The cast of new and old faces includes Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow. Star Wars: Episode VII opens everywhere on December 18, 2015.