‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’: 10 Things We Learned at Star Wars Celebration

     July 17, 2016

One of the last panels of this year’s Star Wars Celebration was a “Future Filmmakers” panel, during which Star Wars: Episode VIII writer/director Rian Johnson and Young Han Solo directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller took the stage to tease their upcoming films. While we didn’t get any huge news like an Episode VIII title or poster, the panel was chock full of insight from Johnson about some of the inspiration behind his take on Star Wars: Episode VIII as well as a couple of enticing story details.

Collider’s own Perri Nemiroff was in attendance for the panel, and we’ve compiled a list of the biggest takeaways with regards to Episode VIII, which stars John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Benicio Del Toro, and Laura Dern, among others. Take a look.

  • rian-johnson-star-wars-episode-viii

    Image via Sony Pictures

    Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said that when they began discussing who might direct Episode VIII, Johnson was immediately at the top of the list due to his work on Brothers Bloom and Looper.

  • Kennedy had high praise for Johnson, going so far as to compare him to her longtime collaborator Steven Spielberg: “I don’t say this about many people—I think Rian moves the camera as well as Steven Spielberg.”
  • Johnson went to San Francisco and spent six weeks figuring out the story for Episode VIII while The Force Awakens was shooting, going off the Force Awakens script and dailies to inform his story.
  • During development, Johnson and his team watched these films for inspiration/influence: Twelve O’Clock High, Letter Never Sent, Bridge on the River Kwai, Three Outlaw Samurai, Gunga Din, Sahara. Upon looking back at the film now that production has wrapped, Johnson said there’s a lot of Twelve O’Clock High in Episode VIII.
  • For the first time in Star Wars history, Episode VIII picks up immediately where Force Awakens left off; no time jump. Johnson wanted to explore what happened next, hence the pre-shoot period at Skellig Michael last September where they shot the opening scenes for Episode VIII.
  • star-wars-the-force-awakens-rey-daisy-ridley

    Image via Lucasfilm

    Johnson got choked up when he walked on the Millennium Falcon set for the first time.

  • “You come into it with feelings of deep nostalgia, but then you realize your responsibility, ultimately, is to get beyond that very quickly and ultimately tell a story that feels alive right now.” – Johnson on balancing nostalgia for the original films while making a new Star Wars movie.
  • Johnson says while Force Awakens is an explosion of adventure and excitement, Episode VIII “is where you start kind of zooming in on the characters, getting to the heart of them, challenging them, pushing them deeper.”
  • Johnson says “the amount of sets we’ve built for this movie is outrageous,” stressing the immense amount of practical effects on the film, including full exterior/interior sets.

  • Johnson was coming up with the story for Episode VIII at the same time as director Gareth Edwards was coming up with the story for Rogue One down the hall. Johnson has a cameo in Rogue One and Edwards has a cameo in Episode VIII. 

Star Wars: Episode VIII opens in theaters on December 15, 2017. Click here for all of our Star Wars Celebration coverage, or peruse the recent links below.

Here are some extras from Episode 8 … #swce

A photo posted by Perri Nemiroff (@pnemiroff) on

Dave Filoni on the set of Episode 8 … #swce

A photo posted by Perri Nemiroff (@pnemiroff) on

This is the image Rian said he thinks features Billie Lourd … #swce

A photo posted by Perri Nemiroff (@pnemiroff) on

Rian’s assistant playing a TIE fighter pilot … #swce

A photo posted by Perri Nemiroff (@pnemiroff) on

Rian made a cameo in Rogue One though! #swce

A photo posted by Perri Nemiroff (@pnemiroff) on


Image via Lucasfilm


Image via Lucasfilm

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