“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hasn’t even been in theaters for 24 hours, but fans are already waiting for their next trip to a galaxy far, far away. There is no official title for “Star Wars: Episode VIII” yet, but fans are desperate to know what’s next. In typical mega-franchise fashion, everyone is keeping their mouths shut. However, we do know a few important details.
Release Date: “Star Wars: Episode VIII” will hit the big screen on May 27, 2017. (Fun fact: the 40th anniversary of “Star Wars: Episode IV” is just two days before.)
Director: J.J. Abrams will step down to make room for Rian Johnson. The former “Breaking Bad” director has written the script and collaborated with Abrams. “When Rian, who I admire enormously and adore, came on board, we met and talked with him about all the things we were working on and playing with,” Abrams told /Film. “And he as a spectacular writer and director has taken those things and has written an AMAZING script that I think will be an incredible next chapter, some of which incorporating things we were thinking of and other things are things we could never of dreamed of.”
— Star Wars (@starwars) December 16, 2015
Returning Cast: A specific cast list hasn’t been released, but Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy revealed that all the major players from “The Force Awakens” will return. “There will be a handful of new cast members in ‘Episode VIII’ but also all the cast members you see here tonight will be in it as well,” she told BANG Showbiz (via the Daily Mail) at the European film premiere.
She didn’t specify which members of the large cast would be back, but it seems like all the fan favorite characters will return. Daisy Ridley (Rey) confirmed she read the new script, while Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) was seen on set in Ireland. Casting calls for the movie also indicate that Leia (Carrie Fisher), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) and Finn (John Boyega) will return.
New Cast Members: “Episode VIII” will likely involve a few new characters, including one that will be played by Benicio Del Toro, who revealed to Entertainment Tonight that he isn’t sure if he is playing a villain. The casting call mentioned above also revealed that a female between the ages of 20-35 would play a lead role, but no details about her character were given.
Filming Location: The movie began shooting before “The Force Awakens” hit theaters. Crews were spotted in Ireland with Hamill in September for what many thought were reshoots for the December film, but Entertainment Weekly confirmed that it was actually the eighth movie that was filming.
Before “Episode VIII”: “Star Wars” fans will get to see another adventure before they watch Rey and Finn’s journey continue. “Rogue One” is a standalone film that will be released on Dec. 16, 2016. The movie, starring Felicity Jones, will take place between Episodes III and IV. The film follows a group of rebel fighters who want to steal the plans for the Death Star.