While Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII won’t hit theaters until 2017, there’s still plenty for Star Wars fans to look forward to in 2016. Namely, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which arrives in theaters this December.
The first in a new standalone Star Wars anthology movie series, director Gareth Edwards’ (Godzilla) Rogue One has been keeping its cards pretty close to its chest in terms of information thus far. At present time we know a few little things about what will and won’t take place, but overall information remains somewhat scarce.
Fortunately, the recent Disney shareholder’s meeting in Chicago has provided a little more insight into Rogue One, thanks to the reporting of /Film reader Matthew Hansen, who was in attendance. During the meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger showed off a sizzle reel for Rogue One and confirmed that the film does in fact take place right before the classic events of Episode IV - a first after months of speculation regarding the film's precise point in between the first two Star Wars film trilogies. Said Iger:
It’s our first original standalone Star Wars story. It’s about a band of rebels who are plotting to steal the plans for the Death Star. The action takes place right before the events in the very first Star Wars movie, Episode IV, which was called A New Hope. And I can’t wait for you to see it, it’s in theaters this December.
Iger then proceeded to give the shareholders a tiny taste of exactly what Rogue One will look like with an all too brief sizzle reel, as recounted here by Edwards:
Most of it was very quick. A shot of the black stormtrooper, possibly called Death Troopers as previously reported, another pic of that same style of helmet and armor but all chrome, reminiscent of Captain Phasma from The Force Awakens, an image showed two AT-ATs that had a slightly different look with the door panel on the side of the body painted a lighter beige color. And a couple cast photos were shown, one of Felicity & Diego Luna and another of Donnie Yen. The clip featured Felicity’s character on what looked like the inside of a ship or shuttle with her arm up holding on and the hatch/ramp open behind her. I wish I could remember what she said as part of the sizzle but it went by too fast. The new stormtroopers looked great.
Hansen was also able to confirm that the footage shown “definitely” did have the classic look and feel of the original trilogy – something that is likely to be music to the ears of Star Wars fans. With an entirely new cast of characters that includes Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly), the concept of Rebels attempting to steal vital Death Star blueprints is an engaging one - but then of course, there’s the issue of how Darth Vader’s return will be portrayed in the film. If poorly executed, we could have another prequel-sized controversy on our hands.
Unfortunately, there was no sign of Darth Vader in the glimpse of footage, but Edwards’ use of practical effects paired with the responsibility of creating an original story that takes place so close to the original trilogy is inspiration enough to keep things in the same creative space as they were way back in 1977 – Vader and all.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16th, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.