Twofour54 confirms Star Wars: Episode VII is shooting in Abu Dhabi

For the first time twofour54 has confirmed that the seventh instalment of the Star Wars franchise has been shooting in Abu Dhabi.
Star Wars Episode IV. Courtesy: Lucasfilm
Star Wars Episode IV. Courtesy: Lucasfilm

For the first time, twofour54 has confirmed what The National reported in a world exclusive five weeks ago: that the seventh instalment of the Star Wars franchise has been shooting in Abu Dhabi.

Confirmation that the emirate was the first location for Star Wars: Episode VII, which is due in cinemas in December 2015, came from twofour54, the commercial arm of the Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi, came yesterday via press release.

The film’s director, J J Abrams, and cast members – twofour54 did not name them – flew into Abu Dhabi earlier this month and have been working alongside hundreds of local and international cast and crew, with support from twofour54 intaj and the Abu Dhabi Film ­Commission.

“We were very excited to start the filming of Star Wars: Episode VII in Abu Dhabi – it has been an incredible place to commence this journey,” said Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm.

Six lucky Emiratis are working as interns on the project, with two following the production to London’s Pinewood Studios for valuable international production ­experience.

“Twofour54’s vision is to enable the development of world-class Arabic media and entertainment content,” said Noura Al Kaabi, twofour54’s chief executive. “By exposing our local young talent to international productions and prominent directors, we look forward to developing their skills and developing our next big director.”

The emirate offers a 30 per cent rebate for film productions and in the past year has attracted the paranormal thriller Deliver Us From Evil from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures’ Fast & Furious 7 and the Bollywood feature film Bang Bang from Fox Star Studios.

The desert landscape is also an obvious fit for Star Wars. It was April 15 when The National first captured and published pictures that indicated the Abu Dhabi desert would be used to recreate Tatooine, the desert-like planet that is the home of Anakin and Luke Skywalker, Jabba the Hutt and the famous hangout, the Mos Eisley Cantina, in the series.

“We are delighted that Abu Dhabi has attracted another major international production and are thrilled to have welcomed the Star Wars team,” said Al Kaabi. “Having Star Wars: Episode VII film in the emirate shows Abu Dhabi is emerging as the region’s leading media and entertainment hub.”

amcqueen@thenational.ae

Published: May 21, 2014 04:00 AM

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