Now that Writer and Director Rian Johnson is now officially on the helm of the next episode of the Star Wars franchise, the cast and crew of the US$ 2 billion box office hit may have to quickly move on from relishing their success and start filming once more. Initially slated to hit the screens on May of 2017, unconfirmed reports says that Disney might push back on a later date sometime in December of the same year.
Such attention to pre-planning, and meticulous attention on how the stories should be interwoven with one another shows how serious Disney and Lucasfilm is in ensuring the strict continuity of the canon’s storyline. Even with an anthology spin-off slated this December and a host of television series, comic books, and novels, producers are keen on the fact that the Star Wars universe must remain cohesive and intact.
So it doesn’t come as a surprise if the film giants have already hired Rian Johnson as early as June of 2014 to write and direct the next sequel: a good year and half earlier before ‘Episode VII: The Force Awakens’ even hit theaters. Johnson actually worked closely with ‘The Force Awakens’ Director J.J. Abrams to ensure that certain key elements and plot points introduced in the trilogy’s first installment will eventually build up to the characters arcs of the next episodes.
Rob Keyes, writing for ScreenRant, succinctly described Disney’s eagerness to prepare early on. “An example of how crucial this pre-planning process can be is in how Johnson was able to already shoot some scenes for his Star Wars 8, using the same Irish island of Skellig Michael where the final scenes and Luke Skywalker introduction take place at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He shot that in September, many months before today, the actual official start of principle photography on Star Wars 8,” says Keyes.
Top brass seems to be hands on as well, with Disney CEO Bob Igar announcing some possible adjustment on Episode VIII’s release dates prompted by reported script rewrites and revisions. “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,” Igar explains.
Early preparation jitters seem to catch on with the stars of the movie, with John Boyega hinting on early collaborations with other cast through his most recent tweet.
Time to bring out my Han Solo figure for everyone on set to sign. Sigh** can't help it.
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) February 10, 2016
The next two installments promises to be ‘much darker’ as described by Boyega, who is now preparing himself for a more physically demanding role despite of the severe injuries that were dished out to his persona (Finn) by Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. Check out his tweet that says it all.
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) February 4, 2016
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.