December 2015 saw the long awaited return of Hollywood’s most beloved franchise (or at least one of them) with Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. The film was a commercial success, appearing on several critics’ lists one of the ten best films of 2015, and becoming the third highest-grossing film of all time with a worldwide gross of over $2 billion, as well as breaking many other box office records in the process.
Now, fans are counting the days leading to Rogue One, which will premiere on December 16, 2016, and will be the first movie of the Star Wars Anthology series. Next in line is Star Wars: Episode VIII from the sequel trilogy, with a December 2017 release date.
Plus, on July 17, at Star Wars Celebration Europe III in London, a fan gathering that began in 1999 to celebrate the Star Wars franchise, American actor Alden Ehrenreich was revealed as the new Han Solo, following the footsteps of Harrison Ford. He will appear in the upcoming solo film of Han Solo (no pun intended), the second feature in the Anthology universe, tentatively scheduled to hit theaters in 2018.
The Sequel Trilogy Awakens
In 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm for $4.06 billion and announced a sequel trilogy. The first film, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, was released in 2015. Episode VIII will premiere on December 15, 2017, while Episode IX will open on May 24, 2019.
The Force Awakens takes place approximately 30 years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi and centers on the search for Luke Skywalker, who has mysteriously disappeared from the galaxy.
The cast of the original trilogy returned: Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, and Carrie Fisher as Leia Skywalker, along Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. They joined a host of new characters interpreted by Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac.
Backed by his work at the helm of the new Star Trek series, the film was directed by J. J. Abrams and was based on an original screenplay, as it was decided that the new trilogy would mainly consist of new content instead of storylines from the Star Wars expanded the universe.
The screenplay was penned by Abrams and Laurence Kasdan, who was the co-writer of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Series creator George Lucas, meanwhile, acted as the company’s creative consultant.
Rogue One, the first stone in the Anthology Series
In 2013, Disney went even further, and its CEO Bob Iger confirmed the development of two stand-alone films. Disney CFO Jay Rasulo later described them as origin stories. Han Solo and Bobba Fett were rumored to be the first characters to have their solo debuts.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy further explained that they would not crossover with the films of the new trilogy. In April 2015, at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, she announced that these movies would be referred to as the Star Wars Anthology series.
In May 2014, the first film of the Anthology series was announced to be released on December 16, 2016, with Gareth Edwards directing. In March 2015, its name was revealed to be Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In July 2016, Kathleen Kennedy revealed at the last Star Wars Celebration that the idea for Rogue One emerged during the filming of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
Rogue One takes place between Episodes III and IV, with the following premise: “Rebels set out on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star”. The film will mark the return of fan favorite character Darth Vader, once again voiced by James Earl Jones.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) July 16, 2016
Han Solo and Bobba Fett?
In July 2015, Lucasfilm announced the origins of Han Solo as the second Anthology film. It will focus on the young Han Solo and will be released in 2018. The movie could start filming between January and February 2017, if the script is finished on time.
The film will be directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. One of the saga’s most cherished characters, fans have been given a confidence boost as the directing duo apparently want to keep Solo’s rebel without a cause attitude first played by famous actor Harrison Ford. “Han Solo doesn’t want to do anything that he’s told. When told not to do something, it makes him want to do it more. He’s very sarcastic, and at the end of the day he’s unreasonably optimistic,” Lord said.
In July 2016, at Star Wars Celebration, Alden Ehrenreich was officially announced as the new Han Solo. Ehrenreich was, in fact, the first to audition for the role and 4,000 actors later, he ultimately got the job.
The American actor reportedly did a screen test with the Millennium Falcon, Solo’s iconic spaceship, and Chewbacca, the character’s inseparable sidekick that has been rumored to appear in the film. A third Anthology film rumored to focus on Boba Fett will be released in 2020.
— IGN (@IGN) July 16, 2016