Star Wars fans are still celebrating the beloved franchise's triumphant return as Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens is still playing in theaters, but the cast and crew don't have much time to bask in the glory. Lucasfilm is running a fairly tight production schedule, with Rian Johnson's Star Wars 8 slated for theatrical release on December 15, 2017. That means principal photography is going to have to start soon, so the team has ample time to piece together the final product in post.
Reports have indicated that Johnson will begin shooting in February 2016 after the schedule was moved back by a month. It would appear that the gang's getting back together in the near future, as various members of the Episode VIII cast are teasing their returns on social media.
Star Wars News Net rounded up a collection of posts from John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, and Johnson himself, all hinting that the cameras shall start rolling in the coming days. We've assembled them for viewing below.
First up, Ridley shared a letter of appreciation she received from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Part of the note is presumably about Star Wars 8; fans will notice the Roman numeral VIII in bold letters at the top, and the letter appears to start with "as we begin..." Ridley's use of the hashtag #VIII lends credence to the belief Kennedy is addressing both the tremendous success of The Force Awakens and the commencing of Episode VIII production:
Ridley's co-star Boyega let his followers know that he's training to reprise Finn. The actor has hinted previously that Episode VIII will be more physically challenging for him than The Force Awakens was, so it makes sense he'd get in the best shape possible before production started:
John's snapchat: "Just finished training and all that for the next one, and as you can see... Finn is Back." pic.twitter.com/rfoPeIk5DX
— Noah Outlaw (@OutlawNoah) January 29, 2016
Filming on Episode VIII will apparently start in England, since Fisher is in the country, accompanied by her French bulldog Gary. Those who followed the Star Wars 7 promotional tour know that Gary has become an Internet sensation, following Fisher everywhere she goes. Time will tell what sort of hijinks he'll get into this time around:
Blessed bitches & swag from most of us here in Pretty Good to GREAT BRITAN pic.twitter.com/QM8sbS5uZi
— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) January 29, 2016
The man behind everyone's favorite protocol droid, Daniels, provided the most tantalizing tease of all. He confirmed that he has read the Star Wars 8 script and (jokingly) suggested he would share the story with all who want to know. Daniels has previously commented on the great lengths Lucasfilm went to preserve the Force Awakens secrets, so it's no surprise he had some thoughts on that matter again:
Just read Ep VIII and thought I'd share the story with you because I know you can't wait to hear it too. You do want to hear it. Don't you?
— Anthony Daniels (@ADaniels3PO) January 29, 2016
Johnson evidently saw his actor's post, and provided an equally humorous response with a picture that truly says it all:
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) January 31, 2016
While nobody's sharing anything that revealing, it is exciting for Star Wars fans to consider that the ball's getting rolling on the Force Awakens sequel so quickly. The fact that the script is finished and distributed to the cast is a very welcoming sign. Some were concerned when Johnson was tasked with rewriting the screenplay to expand the roles of the returning fan-favorite Star Wars 7 characters, but it would seem that any revisions were simply minor tweaks. At no point was it reported that Lucasfilm had ordered a complete overhaul of the Episode VIII story (which had been plotted out well before the release of Star Wars 7), so there was never anything to worry about. Rewrites happen all the time in Hollywood, and getting more Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron is a fun proposition.
As alluded to earlier, Lucasfilm did an admirable job keeping the juiciest details of The Force Awakens under wraps in marketing, with a campaign that focused more on nostalgia and emotional resonance than story beats. Johnson's reply to Daniels' tweet (while all in good jest) is a sign that the studio will once again follow that template as Star Wars 8 comes together. Given how successful these methods were before, there's no reason why Disney and Lucasfilm should retool anything. In an age where more and more blockbusters spoil interesting twists and turns in trailers, Star Wars seems to be the keeper of secrets to make the theatrical experience all the more worthwhile. The rumor mill will churn up all sorts of things, but the studio should ensure viewers go in relatively clean.
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.
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