Walt Disney Studios announced today that with pre-production in full-swing, a confirmed release date of December 18, 2015, has been set for Lucasfilm's Star Wars Episode VII. "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. Star Wars Episode VII will be directed by Star Trek veteran J. J. Abrams and is being scripted by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, responsible for the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. John Williams is returning to score Star Wars Episode VII. The release date has been the subject of intense discussion over the last few weeks, with Michael Arndt leaving the film and Abrams and Kasdan taking over from the Oscar-winner. Shortly thereafter, it came out that Lucasfilm had asked Disney for more time and been rejected; today, Abrams told reporters that it was a timeline issue that was decisive in he and Kasdan taking over. No cast has yet been announced, although it's all-but-confirmed via months of relentless rumors and a handful of missteps by the actors that Harris Ford, Mark Hamill and Carris Fisher will return to reprise their roles from the original Star Wars trilogy. Shooting is scheduled to begin spring 2014 at Pinewood Studios.