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Whats next for the Star Wars movie universe
Rey (Daisy Ridley) and BB-8 in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Ridley is set to star in "Star Wars: Episode VIII," which is scheduled to be released December 2017. - photo by Jeff Peterson
Now that the furor around J.J. Abrams Star Wars: The Force Awakens is dying down, that can only mean one thing: Its time to start getting riled up for all the Star Wars movies still on the horizon.

With plans to release a new movie set in George Lucas galaxy far, far away every year for the foreseeable future, Disney is definitely doing its part to keep fans busy. But theyre also doing a regrettably good job at keeping all the juiciest information under wraps.

Heres what we know so far about the upcoming Star Wars movies, including a look at some of the more plausible rumors. Consider this a very mild spoiler warning.

'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'

Director: Gareth Edwards (Godzilla)

Writers: Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli), Chris Weitz (Cinderella) and possibly Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible 5 Rogue Nation)

Cast: Felicity Jones, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Jonathan Aris

Release date: Dec. 16, 2016

The rest: Set shortly before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, Rogue One follows the group of Rebel spies that stole the plans for the original Death Star prior to the events of Lucas original 1977 film.

In other words, yes, this is a prequel lets hope that doesnt automatically doom it.

Edwards has described Rogue One as more grounded than previous Star Wars installments, comparing it to gritty war movies like Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down.

Its called Star Wars, he said last April during a Star Wars celebration in Anaheim, California (via Entertainment Weekly).

It might be more scientifically grounded, too. Weitz publicly approached Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter to ask him some astronomy questions for the movie, although the conversation was quickly taken to private messages.

Beyond that, we also know a few details about what kinds of characters some of the cast will be playing. Felicity Jones character, for instance, is a soldier of the Rebellion; Mads Mikkelsen a go-to actor for villain roles, thanks to films such as Casino Royale and Hannibal is definitely not a bad guy (according to Cinemablend); and according to, Alan Tudyks character will be done using motion-capture performance.

The biggest news of all, though, is just a rumor albeit a pretty plausible one, given Rogue One's setting within the timeline of the Star Wars saga namely that Darth Vader could play a not-insignificant role in the movie, as well. Of course, including Vader, aka Anakin Skywalker, might make this less a spinoff and more a full-fledged prequel Star Wars: Episode 3.5 so it will be interesting to see if Disney does go in that direction, or if they opt instead to use less iconic characters like the late Peter Cushings Grand Moff Tarkin.

More information should be forthcoming as the release date draws near. The first trailer is expected to screen with Captain America: Civil War this May.

'Star Wars: Episode VIII'

Director: Rian Johnson (Looper)

Writer: Rian Johnson

Cast: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro, Kelly Marie Tran and possibly Harrison Ford

Release date: Dec. 15, 2017

The rest: Now that production is officially underway on the Force Awakens sequel, new tidbits are popping up on an almost daily basis. Unsurprisingly, that does not include major plot details. One thing we do know, thanks to John Boyega (via ScreenRant), is that, mirroring the tonal evolution from A New Hope to The Empire Strikes Back, Episode VIII will be much darker than its predecessor.

Some of that darkness will be courtesy of a new character to be played by Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro. Although rumored to be the films villain, Del Toro isnt so sure himself, telling Entertainment Tonight, I don't know if (the character) is a villain. People are saying that, but it's like they read a different script than I read. It's nice to keep people in the dark, a little bit of mystery is good. If they want to believe its the villain, then good.

More recently, during a radio interview, he said (via, Im like the villain. But well see.

For fans that were disappointed by the almost complete absence of Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens, he will have a substantially bigger part in Episode VIII, according to Daisy Ridley, who jokingly told MTV News from the Oscars red carpet that the whole movie will be two hours of me and Mark Hamill staring at each other.

Less jokingly, she said that she and Hamill had been rehearsing a lot together and that Luke is so cool in this one.

Episode VIII also differs from its made-by-committee predecessor in that its completely Johnsons project.

When Rian came in and started writing his script, he started from scratch, other than knowing what we had done in Episode VII and projecting out where it was going," Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is quoted as saying (via Slashfilm). "He then sat down and put pen to paper; its 100 percent him.

And Johnsons script is apparently really, really good. Frequent Abrams collaborator Greg Grunberg described how the Force Awakens director read the script and said something he never, ever says. He said: Its so good, I wish I were making it.

While principal photography began Feb. 15, according to, some footage was shot as far back as September. Mark Hamill was spotted returning to film scenes on the Irish isle of Skellig Michael, which appeared at the end of The Force Awakens as a key location.

Speculation based on that detail that Episode VIII could pick up right where The Force Awakens left off seems to have been confirmed, once again by Ridley speaking with MTV News. When we went back to Skellig to do the opening of '(Episode) VIII,' it was so crazy doing the same scene with a different crew of people, the actress said.

Beyond that, though, there still isnt a lot of concrete information about Episode VIII. At one point, there were allegedly two new female leads being cast for the film. One of the roles was previously reported to have gone to British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, but that may not actually have been the case.

Other names that were supposedly in contention include fellow Brits Bel Powley and Olivia Cooke as well as Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany (most famous for her role on the BBCs Orphan Black).

However, its possible with the recent casting of Laura Dern and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran that those vacancies could have already been filled. Or, those rumors might have been completely off-base to begin with.

Untitled Han Solo anthology film

Directors: Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie)

Writers: Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Force Awakens), Jon Kasdan

Cast: N/A

Release date: December 2018

The rest: A prequel film featuring a young Han Solo cant help but sound like a potentially terrible idea, but having the comedy geniuses behind stuff like The LEGO Movie and Last Man on Earth involved is at least intriguing.

Moreover, original trilogy contributor Lawrence Kasdan, who, alongside Abrams, took over last-minute scripting duties on The Force Awakens, is making this his Star Wars swan song, and he says its definitely not an origin story.

As quoted in the U.K.s Independent, It will not be, 'Heres where he was born and this is how he was raised.' I think what it will be is what was he like 10 years earlier maybe a little earlier, youll get a glimpse."

The chief problem will be casting a young version of the character.

"Harrison (Ford) is one of a kind. He's a one-off," Kasdan told the Associated Press. "There is going to be a lot of pressure on anyone who tries to be that (younger) character. He's got to be a believable antecedent."

So far, the filmmakers seem to be looking at just about everyone of a certain age the golden number being between 20 and 25, although names reportedly under consideration range from as young as 17 to as old as 34. Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Dave Franco, Logan Lerman and Scott Eastwood are just some of the actors supposedly in the running.

'Star Wars: Episode IX'

Director: Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World)

Writer: Rian Johnson

Cast: N/A

Release date: December 2019

The rest: With nearly two years before Episode VIII even hits theaters, there really isnt much information yet on its sequel.

While in Utah for Sundance, however, director Colin Trevorrow did let slip a few very minor details, including that it will follow the precedent set by Episode VII and Episode VIII and shoot on film instead of digital cameras, according to Variety.

According to Screen Crush, he also briefly talked up his desire to shoot IMAX footage in outer space to include in the movie.

Based on earlier comments, though, it seems all but guaranteed that at least Rey will remain a prominent character through Episode IX. When asked point blank about her origin by Entertainment Tonight, Trevorrow answered that, whatever it is, it will be deeply and profoundly satisfying, adding that, Rey is a character that is important in this universe. Not just in the context of 'The Force Awakens' but in the entire galaxy, and she deserves it. And so we'll make sure that answer feels like something that was it's something that happened a long time ago far away. We're just telling you what happened."
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