Director Rian Johnson’s addition to the Star Wars canon, Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, may seem like a distant point in a galaxy far, far away, but make no mistake: December 15 will be here before you know it. And while there’s no doubt the actual premiere is the big payoff, all the rumors leading up to the film are what make the Star Wars universe … well, the Star Wars universe.
To that end, 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 The Last Jedi from here on out, so stop searching your feelings, and follow us below.
The first trailer
As many fans (and industry pundits) predicted, Disney and Lucasfilm premiered the first trailer for Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi during 2017’s Star Wars Celebration event in Orlando, Florida.
Packed with ominous imagery and suggesting that the time of the Jedi could indeed be nearing its end, the trailer hinted at dark things to come for Rey, Finn, and the rest of the franchise’s current cast of characters.
An ominous title
All of the speculation regarding the film’s full title was finally put to rest on January 23, 2017, when the project’s official title was revealed to be Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
The announcement was made on StarWars.com, and although it answered a long-standing question about the film, it also prompted even more guessing games among fans.
Could the titular last Jedi be Luke? Per Yoda’s dying speech in Return of the Jedi, “When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be.” Maybe the title refers to Rey, who is poised to study under Luke in the upcoming film?
As Jedi is both the singular and plural form of the word, there is a lot of ambiguity in the title. If foreign translations of the title are accurate, however, it seems there will be more than one Jedi in the film. The Spanish translation of the title is Los Últimos Jedi; unlike in English, adjectives in Spanish match the noun they modify in number, and “últimos” is the plural form of the word.
— Star Wars España (@StarWarsSpain) February 17, 2017
The other foreign translations of the title, such as the French and Italian, also use plural adjectives, so the evidence seems overwhelming. Exactly how many Jedi can fans expect to see? For now, we must wait to find out.
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 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 in June 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 in February, per the official website. After nearly five months of filming, Daisy Ridley (Rey) confirmed that the movie was finished shooting via her Instagram account.
— Daisy Ridley (@_DaisyRidley_) July 13, 2016
In July, the official Star Wars account on Twitter also 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.