Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers dismisses the Episode VII talk, while Mark Hamill all but confirms his casting by hitting the gym. Also after the jump:

  • Star Wars Rebels will drop by New York Comic-Con
  • See a trailer for Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force
  • Steve Sansweet‘s Rancho Obi-Wan sets a Guinness record
  • A “lost” short with Star Wars ties will return to the screen

We know for sure that Star Wars Episode VII is heading to London’s Pinewood Studios, but now we have further reason to believe it’ll also shoot in New Mexico. Albuquerque Studios president Dana Arnold hinted as much a few weeks ago, and One Headlight Ink reports that they’ve since confirmed with Disney that the production is indeed headed west.

Los Angeles, Iceland, Jordan, Scotland, and Ireland have also been rumored as potential locations in the past. Principal photography begins this winter in England. [via On Location Vacations]

East Coasters in need of a Star Wars fix will want to head to the Big Apple next month. Lucasfilm is set to swing by New York Comic-Con, bringing an early look at Star Wars Rebels and a panel about J.W. Rinzler‘s The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, among other things. Here are the official descriptions, with dates, times, and locations.

Star Wars Rebels: The Might of the Empire
Saturday, October 12, 2013
2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m., Room 1E
What happens when the Galactic Empire takes over a planet? What if Imperials took interest in your world, and garrisoned Stormtroopers and TIE fighters to maintain order? Star Wars Rebels, the thrilling, all-new animated television series from Lucasfilm for Disney XD will ask those questions — and so will this panel hosted by Lucasfilm’s resident Star Wars expert, Pablo Hidalgo.

Details on the show are closely guarded, but fans at NYCC will get a first look at new art from the series, and learn new information about the formidable forces of the Galactic Empire. Star Wars Rebels is set between Episodes III and IV, and it is a dark time in the galaxy. In the spirit of the original trilogy, the Empire is once again the preeminent villain of the saga, and Star Wars Rebels puts the awesome might of Imperial forces in the spotlight.

The series is still a year away, so don’t miss this chance to get an early look at its development.

The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Sunday, October 13, 2013
2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m., Room 1A23
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Go behind-the-scenes of this fascinating film with author and Lucasfilm executive editor J.W. Rinzler and author Jason Fry. Hear some of the stories, anecdotes, recollections, and revelations collected in Rinzler’s new book The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and see amazing photos and video from the set. Details about the upcoming enhanced e-books for all three titles in Rinzler’s The Making of Star Wars series will be revealed.

Head to StarWars.com for more info on Lucasfilm’s presence at NYCC. [TheForce.net]

Movies are fine, but sometimes a fan yearns for more active involvement. Like, say, in the form of a game. A new trailer has been revealed for Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force, which introduces three new pinball tables.

Experience the power of the Dark Side with a special Darth Vader tribute table. Join Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Princess Leia in the fight against the Sith as you play though the most memorable moments of Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi. Finally, choose to support the Rebel Alliance Fleet or the Galactic Empire’s Armada and as you take your place in the space battle and complete missions to establish your position as an elite force in the Starfighter fleet.

The game hits Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStation Network, Steam, Apple App Store, Google Play, Nintendo Wii U, Mac App Store, Kindle Fire, and Windows 8 this fall. [Zen Studios]

Steve Sansweet‘s Rancho Obi-Wan isn’t merely a big Star Wars memorabilia collection. It’s the biggest in the world, according to Guinness World Records. Sansweet’s nonprofit museum is the first-ever winner in the category, which appeared for the first time in the latest edition of the book.

The private collection consists of 300,000 objects, housed in Sonoma County, California. Only a third of those items were actually audited, but that small portion was already enough for Guinness to deem Sansweet’s collection the largest ever. Take a virtual tour below.

To take a non-virtual tour, see the official site for visitor info. [THR]

In other Star Wars artifact news, a short that played before The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 has just resurfaced and is now set for re-release next month. The 22-minute Black Angel was considered “lost” until 2011, when a Universal Studios archivist stumbled across it. It’ll play in theaters for the first time in 33 years on October 13 as part of the Mill Valley Film Festival.

While the film isn’t related to Star Wars on a plot level — it follows a medieval knight trying to rescue a maiden — it’s nevertheless linked to the franchise in many older fans’ minds. It marked the directorial debut of Roger Christian, who served as the set decorator on A New Hope and, later, the second unit director on The Phantom Menace. [Mashable]

One of the earlier Star Wars Episode VII casting rumors indicated that J.J. Abrams had cast his Mission: Impossible III actor Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in a key role. Like Benedict Cumberbatch before him, though, the Irish actor is shrugging off the talk. “Look, I’ve worked with J.J.,” said Rhys-Meyers. “But I don’t believe rumors.” [EW]

More believable is the word that Mark Hamill has been prepping for his upcoming role in Episode VII. Actor Robert Englund let slip at the Nashville Comic Expo that his pal Hamill is getting back into shape for the film. “Mark now — they’ve got Mark in the gym, because Mark’s coming back as Luke Skywalker. They’ve got him doing his sit ups,” he commented.

While Hamill’s return hasn’t officially been confirmed, it’s pretty clear that Lucasfilm wants to bring him back, along with Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. To that end, a source says, the producers have ordered Hamill and Fisher to get back into shape. “Mark and Carrie need to be as close to their appearance in the earlier movies as possible,” explained the insider. [Metro]

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