“May the 4th be with you,” the chancellor will tell Star Wars fans as he tries to associate the Tories with the annual celebration of the film franchise launched by George Lucas with the ground-breaking first movie in 1977.
Osborne will announce that Lucasfilm will invest about £100m in the film, creating an estimated 3,000 jobs. It will be the fourth Star Wars sequel to be shot in the UK. Star Wars Episode VIII, to be directed by Rian Johnson, will start filming in 2016 with a release date scheduled for 2017.
Osborne will say: “This investment by Lucasfilm … is a huge vote of confidence in all elements of movie-making in Britain – from the visual effects designers to the lighting technicians and from the carpenters to the costume designers.
“The creative industries make a huge economic and cultural contribution to the UK. That is why in budget after budget as chancellor, I announced measures to support the industry.
“We are committed to backing this sector and the decision by Lucasfilm to continue to make the UK the home of Star Wars production is why we are right to believe that Britain is the best place in the world for the creative industries.”
Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said: “We are looking forward to continuing the new generation of Star Wars movies in the UK.”
There was, though, one blow for the franchise over the weekend, after it emerged that Josh Trank had pulled out of directing a Star Wars spinoff.
The director of Chronicle and the upcoming Fantastic Four movie was to direct the second Star Wars Anthology film, which is due out in 2018.
“After a year of having the incredible honour of developing with the wonderful and talented people at Lucasfilm, I’m making a personal decision to move forward on a different path,” he said in a statement on StarWars.com.
Last month, excitement surrounded the release of the trailer for Star Wars Episode VII, the first film to be released since Disney purchased the franchise from Lucasfilm for $4.05bn (£2.5bn) in 2012.
The trailer featured a glimpse of what appeared to be Darth Vader’s helmet, as well as an ageing Han Solo – played again by Harrison Ford. Both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, who starred in the original trilogy, will also return to the franchise.
The film is being directed by JJ Abrams, who – it has been rumoured – has decided to return to some of the older film-making techniques, rather than rely heavily on CGI.
He hinted that there would be more of a blend than in many contemporary sci-fi films, saying that “there are a lot of situations where we went very much old school, and in fact used CGI more to remove things than to add things”.
The chancellor’s message to Star Wars fans – “May the 4th be with you” – pays homage to the film and to Margaret Thatcher.
The famous original line – “May the force be with you” – has been delivered at least once in every Star Wars film. But in Tory minds, 4 May will always be remembered as the day in 1979 when Thatcher entered Downing Street as prime minister for the first time.
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