Star Wars fans are early anticipating the December 2015 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh live-action installment in the cosmic adventure series overall (as well as the first released in a decade). However, a year after co-writer and director J.J. Abrams' film reaches theaters, it will be followed by another installment in the form of Star Wars: Rogue One.
Rogue One, for those just tuning in, won't be part of the new Star Wars trilogy narrative that begins with Force Awakens; rather, it's the first 'Anthology' (read: spinoff) film set in a galaxy far, far away. The movie takes place between the events of Episodes III and IV, and chronicles the Rebel Alliance's mission to steal the plans for the original Death Star.
It's been confirmed for a while now that Rogue One will film in Pinewood Studios in London (like Force Awakens before it), with Gareth Edwards (Godzilla (2014)) calling the shots. However, at Lucasfilm's San Diego Comic-Con 2015 panel, it was revealed that principal photography on the movie will begin near the beginning of August 2015 - 'three weeks' from SDCC 2015, according to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
Here's the rundown of Rogue One cast members (potential or confirmed) thus far:
- Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), playing a Rebel soldier.
- Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), reportedly playing the main antagonist.
- Diego Luna (Elysium), as a Rebel fighting alongside Jones' character.
- Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler), whose role in the film remains under-wraps.
Rogue One has been described as more of a proper war thriller set in the Star Wars universe by Edwards, though the script - with the most recent draft penned by Chris Weitz (Cinderella (2015)) - will no doubt still fit the tone and style of previous Star Wars film installments. Similarly, although Edwards has indicated that Rogue One will be a more grounded adventure without Jedi (no good ones, anyway...), Rogue One will no doubt require an extensive post-production process. Hence, production starting almost a year and a half before the movie reaches theaters.
Lucasfilm has also made clear its intention to form clear connections between all future Star Wars projects, be they live-action movies, TV shows, comic books, and so forth. For that reason, it's feasible that Rogue One will provide interesting backstory and/or setup for developments in Episodes VIII and XI (much as the ongoing Star Wars Rebels cartoon series appears to be doing) - in addition to fleshing out the galaxy far, far away even more.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18, 2015, followed by Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX does not have an official release date yet.