While the world excitedly awaits the December launch of the first Star Wars movie under the Disney umbrella, J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Disney CEO Bob Iger just confirmed two more pieces in the franchise puzzle, announcing that Star Wars: Episode VIII will premiere May 16, 2017, while the first spin-off film, Rogue One, will begin shooting this summer.
Following the hugely successful Marvel Studios formula (which Disney also owns), Rogue One will take place outside of the main story arc so familiar to fans of all ages.
Little is known about the plotline for Rogue One at this point, but Disney did confirm the film will star Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) in the lead role. The story is reportedly based on an idea by VFX supervisor John Knoll, and will be written by Cris Weitz (Cinderella).
Another spin-off is also in the works, and it is believed that both ancillary films will focus on early story lines involving Han Solo and Princess Leia, while there has also been speculation that Boba Fett will make his way into the tales.
The plot for Episode VIII is also under lock and key at this point; not surprising considering Episode VII is still largely in the dark, and Disney is no doubt keen on protecting its new franchise, the rights for which reportedly cost upwards of $4 billion. However, we do know that Looper‘s Rian Johnson will take over directorial and writing duties for Episode VIII.
For now, Star Wars fans will simply have to speculate as to where this rebirth of one of the most beloved franchises in the history of movie lore will lead. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens premieres December 18, 2015.