Just two months after Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened to critical acclaim and box office records, Rian Johnson began principal photography on the forthcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII. Commencing back in February 2016, the process has spanned several months, taking the cast and crew to a variety of locations around the world (including Croatia, England, and Ireland) as they work on making the next chapter of the Skywalker family saga.
Johnson recently hinted that soon he would be wrapping production, well ahead of the film's December 2017 release date. As is the case with every big budget tentpole these days, there are sure to be reshoots and pickups as the team moves along in post-production. But for now, it would indeed seem that things are coming to a close in the very near future.
Star Wars 8 star Mark Hamill, always one to engage with his fans, was asked on Twitter if there was anything he could reveal about the highly-anticipated sequel. The actor took the opportunity to announce the final date of production (July 22, 2016), rounding his post out with his trademark hashtags:
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) July 2, 2016
Johnson was recently announced to take part in the "Future Filmmakers" panel at this year's Star Wars Celebration in London, so presumably some details about Star Wars 8 will be announced there. It wouldn't be out of the question to expect an official subtitle or still image (similar to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story at 2015's D23 Convention) to get the crowd buzzing. There's also an outside chance of an Episode VIII sizzle reel (exclusively for Celebration attendees) being shown, given that there's obviously more than enough footage to cut a small teaser together. Still, with the primary focus being Rogue One, chances are Episode VIII doesn't have too large a presence at the event. Lucasfilm doesn't want to overshadow their first spinoff.
While it is exciting to consider Star Wars 8 ending a crucial part of its journey to theaters, this will be disappointing for those hoping to see the film at San Diego Comic-Con 2016; the crew will still be working hard as fans flock into Hall H. If Lucasfilm has a presence at SDCC this year (remember, Star Wars Celebration is the week before), it looks like it would be entirely about Rogue One. Since Episode VIII is roughly a year and a half away (as of this writing), there's no rush for the studio to start pushing it, but fans are always eager to learn more about upcoming projects. They'll have to wait until 2017 for the spotlight to be thrust on Star Wars 8, which is the way it should be.
Just as they did with Force Awakens, Lucasfilm was able to get through this stage of development without enduring any massive leaks about the plot. Save for minor character speculation and a potential action sequence breakdown, many of the movie's details are under lock and key. Whether it remains this way as Johnson starts to put the final film together remains to be seen, but it would appear that the counter-drones did their job and kept any amateur spies away from the set.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
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