Three years ago Disney paid the small sum of $4 billion to purchase Lucasfilm, and the company is now aiming to make that investment back with interest. Not only is Disney producing a Star Wars sequel trilogy to continue the core saga, there's also a series of standalone 'Anthology' films in development that will tell additional stories within the Star Wars universe.
The first of these projects is called Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One and is being directed by Godzilla helmsman Gareth Edwards for a December 2016 release. Other than some confirmed cast members and the premise of a band of Rebels stealing the first Death Star plans (setting the stage for the plot of the original 1977 film), not much is known about the film. That's why fans are sure to take an interest in new Rogue One set photos.
The pictures come courtesy of Mirror Online, and while they don't outright spoil any narrative beats, they do shed some additional light on the movie. In the photos, you can clearly see a group of actors dressed as classic stormtroopers, who we can now confirm will be shown on-screen in their original trilogy iteration for the first time since Return of the Jedi in 1983.
The gallery also depicts a bunch of Imperial officers and soldiers gathering on what appears to be a tropical locale. Without having too much information, it's hard to say which planet in the Star Wars universe this could be. Based on its sandy beach landscape, it most likely is not Yavin IV (the jungle moon that housed the Rebel base in A New Hope). One possible theory could be Dantooine (place of Rebel headquarters before Yavin), but as shown in the original Star Wars, the Empire did not know a Rebel base was located there. It very well could be a brand new planet we have never seen on-screen before.
As for what the scene in question will cover, that is anyone's guess for now. The troops appear to have landed on the planet in some form of craft and are investigating their surroundings. Since we know that the main crux of the narrative will detail the mission to steal the Death Star plans, it's possible that this squadron is tracking the Rebels in an attempt to reacquire their blueprints. There does seem to be some sort of urgency here, as there are a number of Imperial weapons present on the set. They probably didn't go there to be on holiday.
One big takeaway from the set photos is that Edwards seems to be following J.J. Abrams' footsteps and continuing the practical aesthetics of the new Star Wars films. Much like the Star Wars: The Force Awakens behind-the-scenes reel shown at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, it's clear that extras are being used to round out the ranks of the Imperial army and they are being filmed in a real location. This should please many longtime fans, who have yearned for the series to return to its old school 'real-world' look that helped make the classic trilogy so beloved. It's nice to see Abrams isn't the only director who feels this is the best way to go.
In the meantime, fans eager to learn more about Rogue One will probably have to resort to set photos like these for the foreseeable future. With Disney (rightfully) focusing squarely on promoting The Force Awakens right now, Rogue One's veil of mystery may not (officially) lift until we're well into 2016.
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.
Source: Mirror Online