Star Wars fans are still busy dissecting each frame of the recently released Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer, but the first spinoff film is hardly the only project in a galaxy far, far away making headlines this summer. Director Rian Johnson wrapped up principal photography on his Star Wars: Episode VIII back in July, well ahead of the film's December 2017 release date. That gives him plenty of time to handle the extensive post-production process, which will surely include any reshoots (as is customary for tentpoles these days).
After finishing about a month ago, Johnson took a short break from his high-profile job, but now he's getting back to work. On the heels of living legend John Williams announcing he will start composing the music score in the near future, Johnson has begun the Episode VIII editing process, piecing together his first cut of the anticipated sequel.
The director posted the following photo to his official Instagram account, showing himself at a desk as he commences the next phase of Star Wars 8's journey to the big screen:
Things are moving ahead quickly on Episode VIII, but it's important to keep in mind that Johnson is not locking down the final picture right now. Film editing is a marathon where the director has to go through all the footage shot and assemble the best possible film he or she can. Every movie has deleted scenes (Force Awakens was no different), and the version Johnson is constructing right now is not the one viewers will see come next December. There will definitely be similarities between the first cut and the last one, but there's still plenty to be done (including finalizing visual effects) before Johnson gets to that point.
With Johnson in the editing bay right now, one has to wonder if a teaser trailer for Star Wars 8 will be attached to Rogue One. Obviously, the anthology film remains the top priority for Lucasfilm at this point in time, so they're not going to start promoting the next chapter of the Skywalker family saga, but once Rogue One is in theaters, anything is fair game. The announcement trailer for The Force Awakens was released in November 2014, 13 months before the film's premiere. Episode VII had one of the best marketing campaigns in recent memory, so the studio may be interested in replicating that pattern as closely as they can. Time will tell, of course, but it's certainly a possibility.
In the meantime, it's exciting for fans to consider Star Wars 8 taking one more step to becoming a reality. As much pressure as Force Awakens was under, Episode VIII has incredibly high expectations of its own, having to follow the footsteps of the best-received Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back. Johnson is a talented director who can deliver both character drama and genre thrills, so chances are his installment leaves a memorable impact on the series.
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.
Source: Rian Johnson