Disney Chief On “Star Wars” Budget, Dates

Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn is in London this week to talk to J.J. Abrams about “Star Wars Episode VII,” but before he left he spoke with Bloomberg News about the upcoming sequel.

First up, Horn says that despite the planned December opening of ‘Episode VII,’ the studio isn’t beholden to that release date and subsequent films could come out in the month of May when ‘Wars’ films have traditionally been released:

“We’re not sure yet. We may revert — the Star Wars dates have been May — and we may revert to that at some point. But it depends on the readiness of the screenplays and where we are. But this first one will be December 18th of 2015. So we’ll start with that and then we’ll see.”

Horn re-confirms the script is ready and confirmed there was filming in Abu Dhabi last week, however that was only second unit shooting. Principal photography has not yet commenced. Casting is close to completion, though “we’re not prepared to announce it yet, but we will be very shortly.”

There isn’t a finished budget for the film, though he expects it to be in the range of a Marvel Studios blockbuster – “These large, tentpole kinds of movies, on the expensive side, are in the neighborhood of $175-200 million, that kind of a number. Some are more, some are less. We need to give the audience, essentially, a full meal in return for their affection and devotion and love for these properties.”

As for George Lucas’ involvement? “George is a consultant… we now are the primary drivers behind this property. But he is a very valued person. He’s the father of all this. Kathy interacts with him, back and forth I think.”