So tonight is a big night for Star Wars fans (like me!) as Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger made some big announcements, namely the release date for Episode VIII, the title for the first spin-off and the first person cast in it.
Firstly the release date for Star Wars: Episode VIII. In a press release, Iger revealed the Episode VIII will be released on 26th May 2017, putting the franchise back to its regular May release slot. It also means Episode VIII will be released exactly forty years on from A New Hope.
JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the first in the series to break the May tradition as it will be released in December this year, but that happened after conflicting requests from Abrams and Disney. Disney wanted the film released in time for May this year, and Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy pushed for May 2016, in order to allow them to get the film perfect (it will be perfect anyway!). December was a meet in the middle agreement.
The press release also confirms that Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) will write and direct, something we already had an idea would be happening.
No story details were revealed, but here is the part of the press release confirming the news:
Bob Iger confirmed that Rian Johnson will write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII. The film, which continues the saga after the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is set for release on May 26, 2017 — forty years and a day after the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. Johnson is widely considered one of cinema’s most gifted young filmmakers, having directed the modern sci-fi classic, Looper, as well as Brick and The Brothers Bloom. He was also behind the camera for three episodes of the critically-acclaimed TV series Breaking Bad, including “Ozymandias,” which series creator Vince Gilligan named as the best installment of the show. Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman, producer of Looper, Don Jon, Brick, and The Brothers Bloom, are on board to produce, and J.J. Abrams will serve as executive producer.
Secondly there was a big announcement for Gareth Edwards’ (Monsters, Godzilla) spin-off. Again no plot details were released, but Iger confirmed the films title, and that Felicity Jones (above, The Theory of Everything, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) is the first confirmed cast member.
The title of the film will be Star Wars: Rogue One, and while no plot details have been released, my guess is that Rogue One refers to a pilot of some sort?
Anyway, here is part of the press release confirming the spin-off update:
Rogue One is the title for the first film in a unique series of big-screen adventures that explores the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga. Rogue One will be directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) and written by Oscar nominee Chris Weitz (Cinderella, About a Boy, Antz). The first actress cast is Felicity Jones, who garnered an Academy Award nomination and critical acclaim for her performance in The Theory of Everything. The idea for the story of Rogue One came from John Knoll, an Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor and chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic. He will executive produce along with Simon Emanuel (The Dark Knight Rises, Fast & Furious 6) and Jason McGatlin (Tintin, War of the Worlds). Kathleen Kennedy and Tony To (Band of Brothers, The Pacific) are on board to produce and John Swartz (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will co-produce. The film starts shooting this summer in London and is due for release on December 16, 2016.