May 21, 2014 1:30am PT by Rebecca Ford
It's Official: 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Filming in Abu Dhabi
Tatooine has a new home.
Abu Dhabi is officially the first shooting location for Star Wars: Episode VII, twofour54, the commercial arm of the Media Zone Authority, announced on Wednesday.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported in April that the seventh installment in the Star Wars franchise would shoot in Abu Dhabi.
Sources tell THR that the J.J. Abrams-led production is seeking to re-create the desert planet Tatooine, which was the home of Anakin and Luke Skywalker as well as the headquarters of Jabba the Hutt.
The original Star Wars and subsequent movies created Tatooine in Tunisia, but sources say the political climate in the North African country is currently too dangerous to house a big Hollywood production.
The Disney and Lucasfilm movie, set for release on Dec. 18, 2015, also will shoot at England's Pinewood Studio.
Abrams and cast -- which includes Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher with new additions Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow and Daisy Ridley -- flew to Abu Dhabi in early May, with the support of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission and twofour54 intaj.
Hundreds of local and international cast and crew are currently working on the production in Abu Dhabi with key production staff working closely with twofour54 intaj since January.
"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, president of Lucasfilm, in a statement.
Much of the plot of the story, which will be set 30 years after the events in 1983's Return of the Jedi, is still under wraps.