‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ to Arrive December 18, 2015

Disney and LucasFilm will release “Star Wars: Episode VII” on Dec. 18, 2015, the duo announced Thursday.

As a lead-up to Christmas, the mid-December launch pad has been occupied by New Line’s “The Hobbit” franchise since 2012, with the final installment, “There and Back Again,” slated to bow Dec. 17, 2014.

Also part of the dating news, Disney moved George Clooney starrer “Tomorrowland” from Dec. 12, 2014, to a pre-Memorial Day weekend launch on May 22, 2015.

The J.J. Abrams-directed “Star Wars” will begin shooting in Spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios in the U.K.

“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,” said Alan Horn, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.

Casting for the film already is underway in secret, with open call appointments in the U.K. set for this month.

SEE ALSO: ‘Star Wars Episode 7’ Holds Open Casting Call in U.K.

Abrams and “Star Wars” vet Lawrence Kasdan are penning the script, after “Toy Story 3” scribe Michael Arndt was booted from the project.

In its date, “Star Wars” joins previously announced “Inferno,” from Sony Pictures, as well as Universal’s “Warcraft.”

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