Director Rian Johnson’s take on the Star Wars anthology, Episode VIII, may seem like a distant point in a galaxy far, far away, but make no mistake: December 15, 2017 will be here before you know it. And while there’s no doubt the actual premiere is the big pay-off, all the rumors leading up to the film are what make the Star Wars universe … well, the Star Wars universe.
As such, we’re loading up this bastion of Star Wars lore with all the news, rumors, and clandestine whispers we can find to help you analyze the details and get you geared up for the big night. Keep in mind that this post does contain some spoilers, so if you’re looking to head into theaters in blissful ignorance, turn back now. It’s all Episode VIII from here on out, so stop searching your feelings, and follow us below.
Brick by brick
Johnson — the director of Looper, Brick, and three episodes of Breaking Bad — signed on in 2014 to write and direct Episode VIII, as well as to provide a film treatment for Episode IX (to be directed by Jurassic World‘s Colin Trevorrow). Though legitimate leaks from Disney or from the film’s set are few and far between — in fact, the Star Wars team reportedly hired out drone operators to prevent unauthorized drones from capturing on-set footage in Croatia — Johnson’s Tumblr page provides some photographic insights into the film’s production timeline.
In particular, one photo shared by Johnson stirred up conversation and controversy. Shared on June 8 with the not-so-cryptic caption, “In the home stretch,” Johnson’s snap of (ostensibly) a Jedi robe in front of a rocky backdrop drove fans to wild conclusions about the robe’s owner and the potential hidden meaning behind the photo.
Principal photography for Episode VIII began on February 15, per the official website. After nearly five months of filming, Daisy Ridley (Rey) confirmed that the movie was finished shooting via her Instagram account.
On July 22, the official Star Wars account on Twitter posted a brief video confirming that filming had indeed concluded on Episode VIII.
— Star Wars (@starwars) July 22, 2016
As with The Force Awakens, it appears Episode VIII will be a mysterious affair with intrigue swirling around every facet. Legendary composer John Williams, a 50-time (!) Academy Award nominee and five-time winner, told Variety in a June interview that “… if I can do [the music for Episode VIII], I certainly will.” Williams scored Episode VII, and is confirmed to be scoring the next installment in the Indiana Jones franchise as well. It appears the musical mastermind has developed an affinity for aspiring Jedi Daisy Ridley. “I’m happy to do it,” said Williams, “but the real reason is, I didn’t want anyone else writing music for Daisy.”
Though Episode VIII was originally slated for release in May 2017, the studio’s decision to push the movie back to December appears to have had some far-reaching effects on the film industry. Though it’s unclear if Episode VIII is primarily responsible, following the news of the Star Wars delay, 20th Century Fox announced that James Cameron’s Avatar 2 would not be ready in time for its tentatively scheduled Holiday 2017 release.
It seems likely that Fox doesn’t want to compete with Episode VIII, as Episode VII broke domestic box office records and currently stands as the third-highest grossing film of all time, behind Titanic and the first Avatar.