In the day and age of social media, it's becoming harder and harder to preserve the secrets of a film. During production on a highly anticipated project, there will be many curious eyes checking out what's going on, trying to take a picture or video of the action on set and share it with the world. More often than not, these constitute as the first look for many fans, hitting the web before official stills or trailers are made available.
While it's exciting for moviegoers to get an early look at a new movie, set leaks are quite the nuisance for studios. There's a risk that crucial plot information could get out early, spoiling the experience of watching the film for the first time. In the case of something as massive as Star Wars, there's an onus on keeping the juicy details under lock and key until the premiere date. As Lucasfilm begins production on Star Wars: Episode VIII, they are going to great lengths to ensure nothing gets out.
According to the site Mos Croatia Spaceport (English translation via Making Star Wars), there is a team equipped with counter-drones to "remove the uninvited drones" so the general public cannot film the set. The move appears to be a response to troubles encountered while shooting at Greenham Common in England for the Resistance base, where citizens and media members attempted to snap photographs and record footage. In addition, there will reportedly be 600 guards on duty to prevent outsiders from filming. As principal photography on the sequel continues, the studio is apparently keen on ramping up security efforts.
There is no official confirmation concerning the Croatian drones, but should this pan out, it wouldn't be the most shocking development. During filming of The Force Awakens, there were set images of models for X-wing fighters and the Millennium Falcon being constructed outdoors; the bird's eye angle of the various pictures indicated that they were taken by a drone. While the knowledge that there will be spaceships in a Star Wars movie is hardly a spoiler, there's no telling what could turn up if inquisitive minds were allowed to roam (relatively) free with minimal precautions taking place. Lucasfilm did an admirable job keeping the twists and turns of Star Wars 7 a surprise for the film's debut, so the last thing they would want is an important story beat ruined while production is still underway.
It's true that these measures do seem extreme, but one can't fault the studio for being extra careful. The Star Wars franchise is their most precious asset, and Disney wants to be in charge of when certain information is revealed to the millions of fans across the globe. Their marketing campaign for The Force Awakens was top notch in its execution, so it's reasonable to assume they have something similar planned for Episode VIII. Whatever Rian Johnson and company have in store, it seems as if moviegoers will learn everything on Lucasfilm's terms - which is the way it should be.
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, and will be followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode 8 on December 15th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.