With pretty much radio silence from director J.J. Abrams and the rest of Lucasfilm, any news that suggests "Star Wars: Episode VII" is an actual movie that will eventually exist and not just fanboy daydream is greeted with gleeful enthusiasm. The latest piece of info suggested that a filming schedule for the upcoming installment spanned from this coming May to September, and as it's been the case with "Episode VII" for a while, the immediate follow-up question was "Will they finish the movie in time?"
Since Disney seems dead-set on having "Episode VII" debut within the confines of the 2015 calendar year, the purported shooting schedule allows for fifteen months of post-production work before the December premiere. Despite the relatively comfortable wiggle room for things like editing, mixing and special effects work, many "Star Wars" fans" are concerned that the first installment of a new trilogy is being rushed, instead of lovingly and patiently assembled as they believe it should be.
The reality is that having a year between the end of principal photography and the release date is usually more than a modern tentpole film is allowed. Taking a look at recent movies with comparable levels of effects and technical elements, it's easy to see that if "Star Wars: Episode VII" sticks to the reported shooting schedule, there won't be any more of a rush to lock a finished film than other big-budget movie.
8 months (September 2011-May 2012)
"X-Men: Days of Future Past"
9 months (August 2013-May 2014)
"Guardians of the Galaxy"
10 months (October 2013-August 2014)
"Star Trek Into Darkness"
11 months (May 2012-April 2013)
"Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith"
20 months (September 2003-May 2005)
Perhaps the most salient example to look at here is "Star Trek Into Darkness," considering the outer space setting, amount of set work and director. Rumor had it some months ago that production had built replica of the Millennium Falcon for "Episode VII," and Abrams used extensive sets for his second "Trek" film. While "Star Wars" movies have traditionally worked on a larger scale with more exteriors than "Star Trek," the comparison is clear enough.
What has been causing concern with fans is the last number. "Revenge of the Sith" opens almost two years after principal photography ended. That was ten years ago, though. It's not that hard to believe that in the years since "Episode III" technology has advanced to the point where they can shave off five months of post-production. Plus, a lot of the conceptual talk around the new trilogy suggests that the filmmakers want to move back toward the more practical look of the original three movies.
The lack of information is understandably maddening for fans who have waited decades for more of this story, but there is very likely a lot of work that has already started, just out of view. Effects work probably started months ago, and it sounds like the casting is closer to being complete than we've ever been told.
Maybe "Episode VII" will be an actual movie after all.
"Star Wars: Episode VII" is scheduled to open in theaters on December 18, 2015.