Star Wars: Episode VII, the highly anticipated continuation of the Star Wars franchise, has an official release date: Dec. 18, 2015.

The Star Wars saga will continue with the first new film since 2005’s Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.

“We’re very exited to share the official 2015 release date for Star Wars: Episode VII, where it will not only anchor the popular holiday film going season but also ensure our extraordinary filmmaking team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture,” chairman of The Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn said in a statement.

Fans everywhere rejoiced when Disney announced that they would be producing new Star Wars films, an accompanying trilogy, in late 2012. The film will be directed by J.J. Abrams, who most recently helmed the successful Star Trek reboot, and Star Wars creator George Lucas will serve as a consultant on the film.

“I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands,” Lucas said at the time of the announcement.

Before the official release date was announced, fans were skeptical that the upcoming film would be released in 2015, as originally planned, due to some development changes. Recently, screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) left the reboot, and it was announced that Abrams and original Star Wars: Episode V – Empire Strikes Back writer Lawrence Kasdan would be taking control of the script.

Many fans believed that the shake up would delay the release of the film, and, perhaps it has a bit. Speculators will note that all other Star Wars films have had May release dates, making this the first Star Wars film to open in any other month of the year. The move to December is partly to allow the creative minds more time to develop the script before production, and it is also due to the current box office climate.

“At one point we considered the summer of 2015, but it felt like with the changes we made in the writing team that that was going to create a bit of a rush, and we didn’t think that was optimal, for obvious reasons. So Christmas 2015 became the date. [It] happens to be the date which Avatar – which is the number one movie of all time – was released, so we like that. Certainly, hopefully that will bring some good luck even though that was not our film. And Christmas is a good time for a film like Star Wars we think, which will have obvious interest for young people and old people alike,” Disney’s Bob Iger said.

Though the release date has been announced, details on Star Wars: Episode VII are being kept quiet, and nothing is known about the main characters, plot or timeline of the films. However, news is rapidly spreading that the film is currently beginning the casting process. A Disney casting call in Chicago was recently confirmed as being for Star Wars. The casting call is for two roles only: a 17-year-old girl named Rachel and a early-20s male named Thomas.

Filming is set to begin in London in the spring of 2014.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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