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Star Wars: Episode VII to be filmed in UK

image captionStar Wars creator George Lucas sold his production company to Disney last year

The latest Star Wars film is to be made in the UK, producer Lucasfilm has said.

The seventh movie in the sci-fi series is due to start production next year and is scheduled for release in 2015.

Filming on previous Star Wars also took place in Britain at studios including Elstree, Shepperton and Leavesden.

Chancellor George Osborne met executives from Disney-owned Lucasfilm in London earlier this year to discuss the plans and the production is thought to be eligible for a tax break.

Mr Osborne said Lucasfilm's decision was "clear evidence" that incentives offered to large film studios are making the UK an attractive prospect.

Speaking at a meeting of the G7 group of industrialised nations, the chancellor - who revealed his favourite Star Wars character is Han Solo - said he was "absolutely delighted" that the film was coming back to the Britain.

He said: "I think it is a real vote of confidence in Britain's creative industries and a big movie like that - one of the most famous, perhaps the most famous movie franchise in the world - brings with it not just jobs for actors and directors and so on, but for all the other people who have put together an enormous movie."

In a statement, Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm president, said: "We've devoted serious time and attention to revisiting the origins of Star Wars as inspiration for our process on the new movie, and I'm thrilled that returning to the UK for production and utilising the incredible talent there can be a part of that."

The company said representatives from Lucasfilm met with Mr Osborne "to establish an agreement to produce Star Wars in the UK".

media captionActor Warwick Davis: "It's Star Wars coming back to its roots"

Warwick Davis, who played an Ewok in 1983's Return of the Jedi, said the announcement was great for the British film industry, and for British actors.

"I think that it's Star Wars coming back to its roots, it's where it started all those years ago in 1976," he said.

"It's really where Star Wars was kind of born I suppose, and it's nice that it's coming back."

In recent years hundreds of films have benefitted from tax relief, which require that at least 25% of the total production expenditure takes place in the UK.

Relief can be claimed on production expenditure in the UK, up to a maximum of 80% of the total budget.

Series revived

Disney announced it would be making three new Star Wars films after it purchased Lucasfilm, the company started by Star Wars creator George Lucas, in October 2012.

Star Wars: Episode VII will be directed by JJ Abrams, from a script by Little Miss Sunshine writer Michael Arndt. Lucas will serve as a creative consultant on the new films.

The six films in the series have grossed more than £2.8bn ($4.4bn) at the worldwide box office.

Pinewood and Ealing studios were also used for production of previous Star Wars films.

The 1977 original, the Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983 were shot at UK studios, as well as on location across the world.

The series was revived in 1999 for three prequels. Studio production on the Phantom Menace took place at Leavesden studios in Hertfordshire, with Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith filmed in both the UK and Australia.

Lucasfilm has not confirmed where the new film would be made but Star Wars fans website Jedi News has speculated that Pinewood studios may be one of the sites.

Earlier this month, the Sun newspaper also reported that scenes would be shot in the Highlands and the Isle of Skye.

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