Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens has only been in theaters for two months, but Lucasfilm is already hard at work on Star Wars: Episode VIII. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, the sequel has now started principal photography, with several members of the Force Awakens cast reprising their roles. New additions include Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran.
Weeks prior to production commencing, various stars of the franchise teased their social media followers with hints that suggested the cameras were about to roll, including Carrie Fisher. The actress is in England with her French bulldog Gary, who became an Internet sensation during the Force Awakens press tour. Today, the duo are at it again, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look and revealing the film's working title.
Fisher tweeted a photo of Gary sitting in a Star Wars 8 production chair, which has a mock logo for the film positioned at the top:
— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) February 19, 2016
As viewers can see, the movie is currently known as Space Bear: Episode VIII, complete with a panda head in place of the "o" in episode. Working titles are very prevalent in the industry; several major blockbusters film under false names before the studio officially announces the title. One recent example is Magnus Rex for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. The Star Wars franchise is no stranger to this element of the film business. Return of the Jedi was shot as Blue Harvest in an attempt to hide the fact it was the new Star Wars film.
More often than not, these working titles are rather nonsensical and exist purely to give fans a laugh. The filmmakers know that there are millions of watchful eyes carefully analyzing every aspect of a production, looking for clues about what might happen in the story. A movie's actual name can sometimes provide the strongest indicators, so it's understandable that Lucasfilm would want to keep the real title under lock and key until they are ready. After preserving the secrets of Star Wars 7 so well, the studio does not want to share too much about the next one this early.
With that in mind, moviegoers may have to wait a bit before the real Star Wars 8 subtitle is disclosed. Lucasfilm did not share the Force Awakens name until November 2014, after filming on Episode VII had wrapped. That most likely will be the case this time around. Not only is Episode VIII still a ways away, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is becoming the top priority in regards to promotion. Gareth Edwards' standalone spinoff should be front and center soon, especially with the teaser trailer rumored to debut this summer. Once Rogue One has its moment(s) in the spotlight, then attention can turn to Star Wars 8 and the continuation of the main Skywalker saga.
Until then, fans will have to make do with Space Bear and just theorize about potential official titles for the film. After what transpired in The Force Awakens, there are numerous ways Lucasfilm can go and it will be interesting to see what they choose. As long as it isn't something along the lines of The First Order Strikes Back, there shouldn't be too many complaints. There are plenty of great films with poor titles.
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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