Next Star Wars movie to be shot on film; Director JJ Abrams disses digital again


posted Friday, August 23, 2013 at 2:22 PM EDT


With mega-popular director JJ Abrams set to film a trilogy of new Star Wars films, an interesting fact about the planned Episode VII has just emerged: the movie won't be shot digitally, but on traditional filmstock. Kodak film stock 5219, if you want to be precise.

This news comes from cinematographer Dan Mindel ASC, BSC, who previously worked with Abrams on the Star Trek movies, and Mission: Impossible III. Talking at the industry event "ASC Breakfast with Dan Mindel," Mindel brought up how he accidentally sparked Abrams love affair with lens flares, as well as his commitment to analog. Abrams has previously shown a preference for shooting analog, and as Slashfilm points out, he once said:

“I have not yet shot a movie digitally. Film is the thing I am most comfortable with. If film were to go away — and digital is challenging it— then the standard for the highest, best quality would go away.”

This would be a significant departure from the more recent Star Wars movies. The Phantom Menace, released in 1999, was the last of the franchise to be shot on film, with both of the other prequel titles transitioning fully to digital. Director George Lucas was always at the forefront of technological advances on the screen, and it's no surprise that he would have jumped on the digital bandwagon early.

This shift to film stock over digital probably won't mean much for the final product. Star Trek Into Darkness was shot on film stock, and it was converted to 3D, partly shot on IMAX, and filled with as much green screen and special effects as you could possibly hope for. So don't assume this means that the upcoming Star Wars films will be any less CGI dependant than the prequels — but at least it means that Kodak's film stocks will still be in demand.