Star Wars: Episode VII is to be filmed in the UK, producers have announced.
Star Wars: Episode VII is to be filmed in the UK, producers have announced.

The first of the planned series of new Star Wars movies is to be filmed in the UK, after a tax deal was struck between chancellor George Osborne and film executives.

Shooting is to begin next year on the eagerly anticipated seventh instalment of the franchise, which is scheduled for release in 2015.

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, who all starred in the original trilogy, are due to return for Star Wars: Episode VII, with Star Trek director JJ Abrams at the helm and a script by Toy Story 3 screenwriter Michael Arndt.

Executives met Osborne earlier this year in a secret meeting to cement the the deal.

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 Osborne "to establish an agreement to produce Star Wars in the UK".

Mr Osborne said: "Today's announcement that the next Star Wars film will be shot and produced in the UK is great news for fans and our creative industries, and it is clear evidence that our incentives are attracting the largest studios back to the UK.

"I am personally committed to seeing more great films and television made in Britain."

The government offers tax breaks on up to 80% of budget expenditure to feature films and high quality TV programmes shot in the UK, and it is estimated that approximately 300 productions have taken advantage of the deal.

These include films such as Skyfall, Burke & Hare, Hugo, Inception, War Horse, The Iron Lady, The Woman in Black and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Disney announced its plans to make three new Star Wars films after buying Lucasfilm in 2012 from Star Wars creator George Lucas.

Lucas has been retained as creative consultant for the new trilogy.

It has been reported that some scenes will be filmed in Scotland.

The six Star Wars films have so far grossed £2.8 billion ($4.4 billion) globally at the box office.

Scenes from the Empire Strikes Back and the Return of the Jedi were filmed at Elstree and Pinewood studios in the UK, while parts of the 'prequels' trilogy that began in 1999 were filmed at UK studios such as Leavesden, home of the Harry Potter films.