‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ Now with Confirmed Release Date, Details about First Standalone Film Starring Felicity Jones Also Revealed

5:02 PM EDT 3/13/2015 by Kara Michelle, Celebeat Reporter

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Disney's LucasFilm during yesterday's shareholders meeting in San Francisco announced that Star Wars: Episode VIII has been set for release to theaters May 26, 2017. The company also confirmed that the upcoming film as well as Star Wars: Episode IX will both be directed and written by Rian Johnson and will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy. Finally, it was revealed that the first standalone film based on a Star Wars characters will be called Rogue One, that it will begin shooting in London this summer and that it is slated to open December 16, 2016.

Rogue One will be directed by Gareth Edwards from a script written by Chris Weitz based on an idea by Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor John Knoll. Kathleen Kennedy will also produce the standalone film alongside Knoll, Tony To and John Schwartz. Rogue One will star 31-year-old British actress Felicity Jones whose last performance as Stephen Hawking's wife Jane in The Theory of Everything was critically acclaimed.

Meanwhile, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the first of the third trilogy in the Star Wars epic space saga, is ready for release on December 18. Directed by J.J. Adams based on a screenplay he co-wrote with Lawrence Kadan, the upcoming next installment in the Star Wars saga is chronologically set 30 years after the Battle of Endor, the death of Darth Vader and the other events which transpired during Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Filming wrapped up November and the project is now under post-production work. Plans for the sequels have already been approved and set in motion. In fact, back in June, it was already announced that Rian Johnson will write and direct Star Wars Episode VIII. He will also write, and possibly direct as well, Star Wars Episode IX according to Deadline then.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will have the original cast of the first trilogy reprising older versions of their previous roles. Harrison Ford once more returns to the screen as "Han Solo," Carrie Fischer as "Princess Leia Organa," Mark Hamill as "Luke Skywalker," Peter Mayhew as "Chewbaca," Kenny Baker as "R2-D2," and Anthony Daniels as "C-3PO." Aside from the original lead actors of the first trilogy, other confirmed members of the cast of the upcoming episode of Star Wars include Daisy Ridley, Lupita Nyong'o, John Boyega, Max Von Sydow, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis and Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Christina Chong along with Crystal Clarke and Pip Andersen. Daisy Ridley who will play a lead role in Star War VII will also be reprising her character in Star Wars VIII and Star Wars IX.

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