The force is strong in Pinewood. The eighth instalment of the Star Wars franchise will shoot at the UK’s Pinewood Studios, Pinewood Shepperton chief exec Ivan Dunleavy confirmed in a far-reaching keynote address at the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry.
The confab, which brings together employers from all sections of the British economy, had the added benefit of a guest appearance from R2-D2 on \stage with Dunleavy for the news. Filming on the seventh film in the series, the newly titled Star Wars: The Force Awakens, only recently finished at Pinewood.
In a bullish address on the importance of the creative industries to the British economy, Dunleavy noted they are worth more than £70 billion ($111 billion) a year to the U.K. economy, employing 2 million-plus people, and was growing much faster than any other part of the U.K. economy — up by nearly 10% in 2012.
“What’s really interesting about Pinewood is that when you brush away the stardust, what you find underneath is essentially a manufacturing business. But quite a special manufacturing business,” said Dunleavy, who has overseen Pinewood’s international expansion into North America, in Atlanta, and Asia, in Malaysia.
Star Wars: Episode VIII will be written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper), with Disney releasing the film in 2017.
In addition to Pinewood, Star Wars: A Force Awakens helmer J.J. Abrams also shot in Abu Dhabi and Iceland.
Pinewood next plays host again to Sam Mendes and the latest James Bond film, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as 007.