StarWars.com shared major, official details Thursday of the next two "Star Wars" films set to follow this year's "The Force Awakens." The title of the first planned "Star Wars" standalone spinoff film has been revealed as "Rogue One," to be directed by the previously announced Gareth Edwards ("Godzilla") and written by Chris Weitz (reported in January as joining the film). Felicity Jones, a recent Academy Award nominee for The Theory of Everything and reported last month to be in talks to star in the film, is official as the first performer cast in the standalone, which has a release date of Dec. 16, 2016. Production is planned to start this summer in London.
While no "Rogue One" plot details have yet been revealed, StarWars.com relayed that the idea for the story came from John Knoll, Chief Creative Officer of Industrial Light & Magic. He's set to executive produce, along with Simon Emanuel and Jason McGatlin. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Tony To will produce, and John Swartz is on board as a co-producer.
Also, "Star Wars: Episode VIII," the next installment in the sequel trilogy that starts with "The Force Awakens," now has a release date of May 26, 2017, which is 40 years and a day after the original "Star Wars" premiered in theaters. Rian Johnson, attached to the film since last year, was confirmed to write and direct.
The announcements were made by Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger at a shareholder meeting held at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, near Lucasfilm headquarters. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is scheduled for release on Dec. 18, 2015.