Rogue One: A Star Wars story might be released into cinemas this week, and as much as we’re excited to see the spin-off, we have to admit it’s getting us excited for the release of Star Wars: Episode 8 which is due next year.
In anticipation of what no doubt will be one of the biggest films of 2017, we’ve gathered everything we’ve heard about the film so far.
The film is currently scheduled to arrive in theatres on December 15, 2017.
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Director J.J. Abrams was the man put in charge of laying the groundwork for what will be the future of the Star Wars saga, but he won’t stay in that position going forward. After directing The Force Awakens, Abrams will be staying on as an Executive Producer and creative consultant for the franchise, while the reins will be handed over to writer/director Rian Johnson (who landed the gig back in June 2014). The blockbuster will be the first time that the young filmmaker has taken the helm of a franchise feature, though his experience does give us a great deal of confidence in his abilities.
For a long time, we had few clues as to which cast members would be showing up in the still-untitled Episode VIII. Kathleen Kennedy though sheds some light on the situation, telling Bang Showbiz at the London premiere for The Force Awakens, “all the cast members you see here tonight will be in (Episode VIII).”
Harrison Ford is credited on IMDb for an appearance in Episode VIII, which is a little confusing. Han Solo died at the hands of Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, so the only possibility is a flashback sequence. For anyone uncertain about the fate of Captain Phasma, Gwendoline Christie is also signed on to the sequel, along with Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, and Adam Driver.
All indications suggest that Luke Skywalker will play a pivotal role in Episode VIII. However, he may not be a part of the Star Wars saga after that movie. At a recent Big Issue magazine event in London, Hamill seemed to drop a major hint about his character’s future. “I finish Episode VIII, and then I’m out of work,” said the actor, according to DenofGeek.
Of course, everyone is sworn to absolute secrecy about the Episode 8 story. But we’ve still received little tidbits to tide us over, at least until a trailer lands.
Adam Driver has compared the shift from The Force Awakens to the difference between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back – although he was forced to clarify that he wasn’t saying that the film would necessarily match the darker tone of Episode 5.
Filming resumed on the Irish island of Skellig Michael, where the closing scene of The Force Awakens was shot – defying a Star Wars tradition by having one film lead directly into the next.
Boyega has said that the new film will be “much darker”, and more physically demanding for him, so he’ll no doubt be out of his medical coma and back in action in short order.
We expect Rey to begin her training with Luke on the remote planet. Beyond that, we’re somewhat in the dark, but we’ll be ready for Kylo Ren to “complete his training” with Snoke as promised. And it looks like he might be leading the Knights of Ren against Rey and Luke, too.
A new kind of Stormtrooper is rumoured called the Executioner, who wields some kind of spinning, bladed weapon of agonising torture and death.
Even with the original cast confirmed as holdovers from The Force Awakens, there’s still room for new characters. This is further evidenced by a casting call reported by GeekNation, searching for a “strong female character” that many theorise will be Han Solo’s yet-to-be-revealed daughter. The latest news has three actresses as finalists for the role: Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), and Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl).
Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran have now been officially confirmed to join the cast of Episode VIII.
According to an unnamed source cited by MakingStarWars.net, Tom Hardy will have a cameo in Episode VIII as a stormtrooper who recognises Finn but assumes he is still working for the First Order as a Resistance infiltrator.
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One of the big questions for Episode 8 is, will Rey actually become a Jedi? Following the map provided by BB-8 and R2-D2, Rey is able to find Luke Skywalker at the end of The Force Awakens, but after everything he’s been through it’s hard to say whether or not he will be up for taking on a new Padawan.
Our heroine really doesn’t have anything to lose in the matter, because if he says no she can either go back to her life of waiting on Jakku or join the Resistance against The First Order. We can probably guess that she is on the path towards fighting for the Light Side – perhaps to finally bringing balance to the Force.
Another continuing mystery about Rey is the identity of her parents. We learn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that she was left on Jakku at a young age with no real knowledge of where she came from — so that will surely be a thread that’s picked up in Episode VIII. Fans have speculated that she could be the daughter of Luke Skywalker, but obviously, we have no way of knowing whether or not that’s true just yet.
How will it follow on from The Force Awakens
In terms of the story and its link to Episode VII, we now have a general idea of how that’s being handled. J.J. Abrams’s recent statements in an interview with Wired helped shed some light: “We wanted them to be part of the process, to make the transition to their film as seamless as possible. I showed Rian an early cut of the movie because I knew he was doing his rewrite and prepping.” He goes on to note how an early cut of The Force Awakens was shown to Johnson while providing a rare modicum of transparency to him to aid in the writing process.
We’ve also learned how the new movie will begin — exactly where it left off in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Daisy Ridley (Rey) told MTV that “Me and Mark [Hamill] have been rehearsing a lot, and it’s really amazing. When we went back to Skellig to do the opening of [Episode] VIII, it was so crazy doing the same scene with a different crew of people. He’s amazing to rehearse with, and I’m very excited to be doing the rest of the stuff.” She also noted that “It’s such a good story. Seriously. Luke is so cool in this one. Really.”
— Star Wars (@starwars) July 17, 2016
— Star Wars (@starwars) July 17, 2016
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Obi-Wan Kenobi, portrayed by Ewan McGregor is possibly returning on Episode VIII. The Independent UK has reported that a spin-off that will focus on Obi-Wan’s solo series is currently put on hold to use the character in the upcoming sequel.
Entertainment Weekly’s Anthony Breznican had previously talked about the spin-off and revealed that the Star Wars trilogy production company, LucasFilm, was discussing bringing the character back on the Saga films, either Episode 8 or 9.
He said that the reason why the producers are not moving forward with Obi-Wan’s solo spin-off, for now, is because they are not yet done with the character in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. So fans think that this might be a good reason why LucasFilm is not going to do the spin-off yet.
Star Wars: Episode IX
Episode IX is not set to hit cinemas until 2019, and despite it being two years away from potentially premiering, it appears filming could begin sooner than expected.
Project Casting is asserting that it will begin filming in April 2017 at Pinewood Studios UK. This has been one of the primary filming locations for both Episode VII and VIII, so a return is hardly a surprise.