As most of you know by now, the Star Wars saga is returning to theaters this December when J.J. Abrams' hotly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens is finally released. But Walt Disney Pictures' plans for their $4 billion investment in Lucasfilm goes far beyond producing a sequel trilogy. In between the new episodes of the core narrative, they'll be distributing standalone projects dubbed "Star Wars Stories".
The first of these, Gareth Edwards' Star Wars: Rogue One, will come out in December 2016 and is currently in the middle of principal photography. Lucasfilm has largely held off on promoting this film, preferring to concentrate their efforts on The Force Awakens, but that will all change very soon. And apparently, the studio is considering using the release of Episode VII to kick-start the campaign for Rogue One.
Schmoes Know is reporting that The Force Awakens will include an end credits tease for Rogue One, consisting of a clip and teaser. Beyond that, details are scarce, but one can see how this would make sense. Ever since Samuel L. Jackson popped up at the end of the first Iron Man, post-credits buttons have become a staple in blockbuster entertainment, to the point where the latest Marvel tease is almost as anticipated as the feature film it's attached to.
Obviously, this would break the mold for the Star Wars franchise, as none of the previous six films had an extra scene after their credits. However, Disney probably wants to use this opportunity to start raising awareness for Rogue One. There are several reasons why moviegoers are so enthused to see Episode VII, as it's a continuation of a story they've been following for decades (featuring the return of some beloved characters). Rogue One has the Star Wars brand behind it, but some may be wondering why they should be excited for the next series prequel as they bide their time for Rian Johnson's Episode VIII. A preview that reaches the massive Force Awakens crowds could do the trick.
It's true that Disney could simply put a teaser trailer that shows before any screening of The Force Awakens, but that would almost go against everything they've done up to this point. The whole year, Abrams' film has been priority number one and Lucasfilm wants everyone focused on that. That's not to say getting a tease of Rogue One prior to seeing The Force Awakens would distract audiences from the movie they're about to see, it just seems more symbolic to have it play after the credits, as it would represent the viewers (and the studio) moving on from one film to the next.
On the other hand, it could be argued that Disney would be better off waiting a bit before revving up Rogue One marketing. Once fans get to see The Force Awakens, the happenings of the film and all its potential revelations will be the biggest talking points. Even if everyone who pays to see Episode VII stays for this rumored Rogue One tease and sees what Edwards has in store, it may be overshadowed by everything in The Force Awakens. The smarter move might be to hold off a couple of months until the craze surrounding Episode VII has cooled off and then start raising awareness for the spinoff, especially since the two are not connected narratively, there's no real rush to put something out.
Still, it wouldn't be the most surprising thing if there is a tag at the end of the Force Awakens credits to give us a taste of what Rogue One is all about. After all, Disney seems to have mastered this aspect of Hollywood tentpoles, and always finds a way to keep people talking about their franchise. It's worked so well with Marvel that it certainly wouldn't hurt if Star Wars did it too.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens will see theatrical release December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to see theatrical release in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Schmoes Know