Godzilla director Gareth Edwards and The Walking Dead: The Game writer Gary Whitta are set to direct Lucasfilm’s first spin-off feature to follow Star Wars: Episode VII. It’s the first in what the press release refers to as “multiple stand-alone movies that will offer new stories beyond the core Saga.” The Edwards/Whitta collaboration is set to hit theaters on December 16, 2016, two days shy of a year after director J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII kicks off this new chapter for the series.
Edwards is all over the news in recent weeks as the director of Godzilla, his modern take on the 1954 classic. He won the gig after making his debut in 2010’s Monster, a giant creature feature with a human focus.
Whitta, a self-described Star Wars fan, is perhaps best known in the gaming community for his work on Telltale Games’ Walking Dead series, based on the Robert Kirkman comics. Like Edwards, he made his big screen debut in 2010. He wrote the Denzel Washington/Mila Kunis-starring sci-fi action flick The Book of Eli.
“Ever since I saw Star Wars I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life – join the Rebel Alliance! I could not be more excited & honored to go on this mission with Lucasfilm,” Edwards said in a statement.
Whitta shares the director’s excitement. “From the moment I first saw the original movie as a wide-eyed kid, Star Wars has been the single most profound inspiration to my imagination and to my career as a writer,” he said in a statement. “It is deeply special to me, so to be given the opportunity to contribute to its ongoing legacy, especially in collaboration with a film-maker as talented as Gareth, is literally a dream come true. I’m still pinching myself.”
Word of the spin-offs has been circulating for some time, most recently with three confirmed to be in development by Disney — Lucasfilm’s owner — CEO Bob Iger during an earnings call. Bounty hunter Boba Fett, Jedi Master Yoda, and a younger take on series lead Han Solo are all rumored to be a focus for one or more of the spin-offs, but the Edwards/Whitta announcement offers no additional details. We will have to wait to find out which spinoff will come first.