Lucasfilm has not officially closed the book on last year's Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens just yet, with the Blu-ray release of that film happening in a few weeks, but the studio has already commenced production on its direct sequel. Star Wars 8 has been filming for the better part of a month now, recently shifting gears to the Croatian city of Dubrovnik. Rian Johnson and his crew have been there for the past few days, shooting their scenes under the alleged protection of counter-drones to stop curious fans from getting too close a look.
Still, when something as massive as a Star Wars movie is filming in the area, it's going to be hard to suppress everyone with a camera hoping for a sneak peek. As fans might expect, some set photos are starting to come out, illustrating the various locations Johnson is using in Croatia. Though, if a video montage of the pictures is any indication (watch it above), nothing all that revealing has leaked at this point.
The clip, which comes courtesy of YouTube user Izuzetno .com, mainly highlights buildings around the city that have been decorated to look like places in the Star Wars universe. Doorways are modified to include special panels, and there's construction happening in the streets with cranes and other equipment. Arguably, the most interesting ones are set on a Sea Star cruise ship; the boat's top seems to have been set up for a sequence, but overall the photos are fairly pedestrian. That makes the use of John Williams' epic "Duel of the Fates" score extremely anticlimactic.
While the video doesn't offer much in terms of clues, other set photos are a little meatier. Snapped by Du List (hat tip Making Star Wars), this other batch of pictures is headlined by a speeder under a tarp and extras dressed in some kind of military/security uniform. There appears to be some Aurebesh (a Star Wars language) on their helmets, with one possible translation being "CBPD." That would make it seem like these people are part of the planet's police department and are local law enforcement - perhaps unaffiliated with either the First Order or the Resistance. But given the secrecy of the project, anything is possible.
The biggest takeaway here is that Croatia looks like it's playing an entirely new world in the galaxy far, far away. At first glance, the photos do not recall a familiar Star Wars planet the way Jakku reminded viewers of Tatooine; Starkiller base reminded of Hoth. Though The Force Awakens earned widespread critical acclaim, some felt it relied too heavily on original trilogy callbacks, so it is nice to see Johnson go for something unique in his film. The Star Wars universe is a vast place; it would be a wasted opportunity if there were not a wide range of locations featured in the films.
As exciting as it is for fans to see Star Wars 8 come together, they have a ways to wait until Lucasfilm starts providing official looks. Their top priority at the moment is this December's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with marketing possibly beginning before the summer movie season kicks off. In the meantime, brief glimpses like the ones from Croatia will have to do, and as long as they don't spoil anything, moviegoers should be happy with that.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16th, 2016, followed by 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.