In the battle for highest-grossing film of the year, it seems the dinosaurs may have the lead. After setting the record for largest domestic and largest global box office opening ever, Universal’s Jurassic World is on its way to joining the $1 billion+ club, which would make it the third 2015 release to do so (along with Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron). There are still plenty of capes, robots, and sequels to come, but the only other contender that truly stands a chance against the hybrid dinos–and Chris Pratt’s smolder–comes from a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is not only poised to end 2015 with a rather forceful bang, but with Episodes VIII and IX already in the works–along with several anthology spin-offs–the intergalactic franchise is also poised to dominate cinema for years to come. Following The Force Awakens, the next Star Wars installment to hit the big screen will be the quasi-prequel spin-off Star Wars: Rogue One. We have a basic plot summary and knowledge of several people involved, but not much is known about the movie’s characters; we know a fair amount about who’s playing them, though, all the more so after today’s news.
Variety is reporting that Forest Whitaker is in negotiations to join the cast of Rogue One, along with the previously-reported Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna and Ben Mendelsohn. Set for a late 2016 release date, the film will be directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla (2014)) and take place between the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
Revealed by Edwards earlier this year, Rogue One centers on a group of rebel soldiers who scheme to steal the Death Star plans. Felicity Jones is pegged to star as one of the rebel soldiers–most likely the lead–but the question remains: which side of the force will Whitaker fall upon? With his controlled and confident acting style and an impressive repertoire of diverse roles (protagonist and antagonist alike), Whitaker has the potential for both extremes, be they Imperial commander, Rebel Alliance leader, or someone else altogether.
Before Whitaker launches into the stars, though, he could appear in Corin Hardy’s remake of The Crow. Based on James O’Barr’s 1989 comic book of the same name, the premise follows rock musician Eric Draven, who is revived from the dead to avenge his and his fiancé’s murders. According to the same Variety report, Whitaker is in talks to join the cast of the film, which would begin production before Rogue One.
Even if Whitaker accepts only one or neither of the roles, he certainly won’t be lacking work. The Oscar winner is currently filming Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama Story of Your Life opposite Amy Adams, and he’ll next appear in this summer’s boxing drama Southpaw, from director Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer). Beyond acting, Whitaker boasts a producing credit on critically acclaimed Sundance Film Festival hit Dope, which begins a limited theatrical release this year on June 19th.
That said, fans can expect even more casting and production updates on future Star Wars installments in the next several weeks. We know The Force Awakens is coming to Comic-Con 2015, but with Rogue One not too far, far away, it’s possible Disney and Lucasfilm will showcase that at the convention as well.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18, 2015; Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16, 2016; and Star Wars: Episode VIII (subtitle TBD) on May 26th, 2017.
The Crow does not currently have an official release date.