It’s been a colossal week for “Star Wars” fans as the annual Celebration event in California continues to bleed spoilers and details about Disney and Lucasfilm’s upcoming projects. The latest news focuses on the studio’s bold idea for three standalone movies, the first of which now has a title, release date and unofficial plot synopsis.
At the "Star Wars" Celebration in Anaheim, members of the creative team behind the film, Kathleen Kennedy, Kiri Hart and Pablo Hidalgo, were joined in a panel discussion by director Gareth Edwards and Industrial Light & Magic’s John Knoll. They revealed everything that they realistically could about the movie, set for release in December 2016.
Disney head Bob Iger previously revealed at an annual shareholder’s meeting that the title for the first standalone movie will be “Rogue One” and it will hit theaters just a year after J.J. Abrams' highly anticipated "Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens.” The standalone movies are meant as a “Star Wars” buffer that will see a new non-saga-related movie premiere between each chapter of its latest trilogy, which kicks off with “The Force Awakens” this December. At the panel event in Anaheim, it was revealed that the three standalone films would be collectively called the “Star Wars Anthology.”
Edwards revealed at the panel that "Rogue One" will take place between the end of the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy and the beginning of the original trilogy (that is, between “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope”). The movie will focus on rogue Rebellion soldiers hatching a daring plan to steal the plans for the original Death Star. Fans may remember seeing these plans in the hands of Count Dooku at the end of the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” but they seem to have vanished after that.
“I couldn’t sit in a cinema and know that someone else made this film,” Edwards said, according to the official “Star Wars” website.
Those in the audience at the Anaheim event saw exclusive teaser footage and concept art from the movie. Those snippets don’t appear to have leaked their way online -- yet.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the panel let some details about Felicity Jones’ character slip as well. Jones, who is the only actor cast in "Rogue One" to date, will play a soldier on the side of the Rebellion – seemingly ruling out the possibility that the “Theory of Everything” Oscar nominee would be a villain.
However, you shouldn’t consider the lines between hero and villain or right and wrong as clearly drawn as they are in other “Star Wars” movies. EW reports that Edwards' movie will be about characters who embody the gray area between good and evil. IGN notes that the team is aiming for a “Star Wars” movie steeped in realism. In fact, many on the production team have worked on serious war movies such as “Saving Private Ryan,” “Black Hawk Down” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” If the teaser footage is any indication, it looks like they’ll be drawing heavily from these experiences to make “Rogue One” work.
But fans will just have to wait until “Star Wars: Rogue One” hits theaters Dec. 16, 2016, to find out exactly what Disney and Lucasfilm have in mind for the "Anthology" films.