‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ release date announced: Dec. 18, 2015

(Photo courtesy of LucasFilm)

(Photo courtesy of LucasFilm)

A super advanced Merry Christmas for Star Wars fans!

Disney has just announced that the J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Wars sequel will be released on Dec. 18, 2015. As Entertainment Weekly noted, the Christmas holiday release date is a first for the franchise. All the previous films were released in May. Why the change?

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

Two weeks ago, it was announced that director Abrams and Star Wars vet Lawrence Kasdan (co-writer for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) have taken over writing duties for Episode VII. “It became clear that given the time frame and given the process and the way the thing was going that working with Larry in this way was going to get us where we need to be and when we needed to be,” Abrams told Deadline.com of Kasdan. “Working with Larry Kasdan, especially on a Star Wars movie is kind of unbeatable.”

Still, Abrams had only praises for the sequel’s former writer, Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘s Michael Arndt. “Working with Michael was a wonderful experience and I couldn’t be a bigger fan of his or adore him more. He’s a wonderful guy and was incredibly helpful in the process.” Abrams also told the trade website that the change “doesn’t preclude working with Michael again in the future.”

Filming for Star Wars: Episode VII begins early next year at London’s Pinewood Studios.

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