Its release date may have just been pushed back by a significant amount, but production on the next proper Star Wars installment has gotten underway only a few weeks after originally scheduled. During an earnings call with investors (via EW), Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that filming on Star Wars: Episode VIII is now underway with writer/director Rian Johnson (Looper), presumably in London where Star Wars has its soundstage base of operations.
Cameras for Episode VIII actually began rolling last fall, as Johnson and Mark Hamill ventured to the Irish location of Skellig Michael, glimpsed at the very end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They no doubt wanted to grab the necessary footage to pick up after the events of The Force Awakens before the weather took a sharp turn into winter, so they took part in what are called “pre-shoots,” or bits of photography done before principal photography has actually begun.
But now, per Iger, filming for the highly anticipated sequel is officially underway:
“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’s unclear what he means by “production of Episode IX” given that director Colin Trevorrow’s trilogy-capping installment is far from starting filming. It’s possible Iger meant that the planning and conceptualizing of Episode IX has begun, which is taking place while Trevorrow is in post-production on his next film The Book of Henry.
Iger also added that filming of the studio’s 2016 Star Wars film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is “virtually completed,” (ie. reshoots notwithstanding) saying that they “love” what they’ve seen thus far of director Gareth Edwards’ standalone film. He also mentioned that they’re in pre-production on the next standalone feature, the untitled “young Han Solo movie” directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, so things are moving full-speed ahead.
What we don’t know, however, is who exactly is in Star Wars: Episode VIII. Most expected Disney to officially announce the cast sometime in January, after folks had had the opportunity to see The Force Awakens and realize some characters definitely won’t be continuing on. The only actors we know for sure that are returning are John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie, and Hamill, and while we can assume that Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Andy Serkis are all back, Disney has yet to officially announce the entire lineup.
We also don’t know which new actors will be added to the mix, with names like Benicio Del Toro and Gugu Mbatha-Raw surfacing over the past few months. So, all in all, while filming on Episode VIII is underway, we still know very little about the movie. Although I imagine that will change as the no doubt massive production continues through the summer. Will Johnson lift the mystery box veil, or will he continue the trend that J.J. Abrams began with carefully released teases and tidbits over the next couple of years? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
As a refresher, here’s Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars release schedule thus far:
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – December 16, 2016
- Star Wars: Episode VIII – December 15, 2017
- Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film – May 25, 2018
- Star Wars: Episode IX – 2019