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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

While the world is still reeling from the success that was STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, Disney knows that the only place to look is forward. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is almost completely in the can, but coming out of THE FORCE AWAKENS, most fans are itching to see what happens next in the overall saga in STAR WARS EPISODE VIII.

Yes, the film may have recently been pushed from May of 2017 all the wayto December, but that hasn’t done a whole lot to delay the picture’s shooting schedule. According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, the filming of EPISODE VIII has already begun, with director Rian Johnson at the helm.

“There is no better way to propel this franchise into the future than producing quality products. Filming of STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII, the next chapter of the legendary saga, has just commenced and it will be in theaters December 2017. And production of EPISODE IX, a 2019 release, has also begun.”

It goes without saying that Rian Johnson has some big boots to fill for the next chapter. While some had some huge gripes with THE FORCE AWAKENS, most seem to agree that director J.J. Abrams succeeded not only in capturing the spirit of the original trilogy, but in setting the foundation for a solid trilogy. Now the table has been set for Johnson to take the story in a decidedly darker direction. After all, Johnson isn’t really known to make feel-good pictures, and given that the second films in trilogies tend to be the darker ones, it would make sense to get someone with his cache in the director’s chair.

One of the bigger question marks, however, is EPISODE IX. Colin Trevorrow successfully helmed last year’s surprise hit JURASSIC WORLD, but in retrospect, a lot of people are having second guesses on whether or not that was a film really deserving of its box office haul. In addition, of the three episodic directors of STAR WARS, Trevorrow is the one with the least amount of experience. Despite having JURASSIC WORLD under his belt, his only theatrically-released feature apart from that was 2012’s SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, a low-key indie sci-fi starring Aubrey Plaza. Given his lack of experience, some wonder if he’s had enough time to discover his true voice as a director. We’ll have to wait and see.

But in addition to EPISODE VIII starting its principal photography, the Han Solo spinoff movie — which is set to be directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the geniuses behind the 21 JUMP STREET movies — has had a release date officially set.

“[ROGUE ONE] is the first of a set of planned stand-alone stories and we’re already in preproduction on our next one, for release in May of 2018.” 

This comes as a bit of a surprise to this writer, as I assumed Disney would be shooting to release every one of their STAR WARS films in December, given the success THE FORCE AWAKENS had. 

What do you hope to see from STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII, and what do you think of the May 2018 release date for the Han Solo film? Let us know in the comments down below!

SOURCE: EW, Disney

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.