Film will hit cinemas in December 18, 2015

JJ Abrams has said that the delayed release date for Star Wars: Episode VII is a “huge improvement”.

The eagerly-anticipated next installment in the classic sci-fi franchise was originally set to be released in summer 2015, but it was announced earlier this month (November 7) that Episode VII will now open in cinemas on December 18, 2015 instead. Shooting is due to begin next Spring (2014) at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

Speaking to MTV, Abrams said that he welcomed the film’s delay and claimed it was an “infinitely better situation”. He said: “Before I even came onto the project, they were talking about 2015. And they made this announcement very early on, which I understand.

“But it didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the reality of where anything was creatively. I think that it’s a hugely important thing that [the creative process] come first. A release date is great, but you have to release something great. To me, the new release date is a huge improvement.”

Abrams will direct from a script he has co-written with Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi). At present, plot details are unknown and no cast members have been confirmed.

Harrison Ford and fellow original stars Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are all expected to be returning, though Ford claimed he has “not quite made the choice” during a TV interview last month (October).

Earlier this month (November) Oscars favourite Chiwetel Eliojor became the latest name linked to the film. Atonement‘s Saoirse Ronan and The Wire actor Michael B Jordan have both revealed they have auditioned for roles and Benedict Cumberbatch, who worked with Abrams on this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness, is rumoured to be in the frame too.