Disney CEO Bob Iger announced Tuesday that “Star Wars: Episode VII” starts shooting in May and that it takes place 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi.”
In Tuesday’s shareholders meeting, Iger also revealed that the much-anticipated film will feature “some very familiar faces, as well as a trio of new young leads.” Six weeks out from shooting, so far the only confirmed cast member is R2-D2.
The official “Star Wars” website confirms the May 2014 start date, listing that director J.J. Abrams plans to start principal photography at Pinewood Studios in London. The film is “well into pre-production,” according to Iger.
J.J. Abrams first announced in November that R2-D2 would be back. Kenny Baker has played the role in every “Star Wars” film so far, and R2’s sounds were provided by Ben Burtt — the sound designer responsible for the lightsaber hum and Darth Vader’s heavy breathing.
Iger also said Disney’s “Frozen,” which has earned more than $1 billion in global box office, is “poised” to surpass Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” as the top-earning animated film ever. “Toy Story 3” has grossed $1.063 billion. “Frozen” is at $1.026 billion and just opened in Japan.
The CEO did not address the exit of Anne Sweeney as co-chair of Disney Media and president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, or discuss who might replace her.
Iger also announced that the next D23 expo will be held in Anaheim on Aug. 14-16.