- "The second film is where we start zooming in on the characters and getting to the heart of them, challenging them, and pushing them deeper."
- ―Rian Johnson
Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, marketed as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is the upcoming eighth film in the Star Wars saga and second film in the sequel trilogy. The film was written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman along with executive producer J.J. Abrams. It is currently in post-production, and is scheduled to be released in theaters on December 15, 2017. The film will begin immediately after the events of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. It sees the return of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie and Andy Serkis. New cast members include Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran.
- "Rian [Johnson] is definitely going to places and investigating things that haven't really been done in the 'Star Wars' universe. For me, it's so fun getting to explore different things that I wouldn't have expected in this universe. In some ways it feels like we're making an independent film. Certain things we get to play with – this kind of intimacy that we get to find – it's special. It's been really fun."
- ―Oscar Isaac
Unofficial reports claimed in November 2012 that Lawrence Kasdan—who originally wrote the screenplays for both Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi—and Simon Kinberg would divide writing responsibilities for Star Wars Episodes VIII and IX, and both would co-produce all three films of the upcoming sequel trilogy. However, in February 2013, Disney confirmed that Kasdan and Kinberg were working on standalone films, not saga films.
On June 20, 2014, a spokesperson for director Rian Johnson confirmed that he would write and direct Episode VIII, as well as pen a story treatment for Star Wars: Episode IX. Ram Bergman, Johnson's frequent collaborator, was also confirmed to be brought onto the project as a producer, working alongside Kathleen Kennedy. To prepare for Episode VIII, Johnson and crew screened select classic films such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, Gunga Din, Letter Never Sent, Sahara, Three Outlaw Samurai, To Catch a Thief and Twelve O'Clock High. While writing the script, Johnson had meetings with Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, who showed him dailies as well as an edit of the unfinished film. According to Abrams's friend Greg Grunberg, Abrams was so impressed by the script that he regretted not directing it. John Boyega also claimed that the script was "darker" than the one for The Force Awakens.
On August 7, 2014, it was reported that actress Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey in The Force Awakens, may reprise her role in both Episodes VIII and IX. On October 16, 2014, at the opening of the new Industrial Light & Magic facility in London, ILM President Lynwen Brennan confirmed that Star Wars: Episode VIII would be filmed in London. On March 12, 2015, Disney chairman Bob Iger originally announced the release date for Episode VIII of May 26, 2017, forty years and one day after the release of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, but the release date was later pushed back to December 15, 2017.
Preliminary filming took place in September 2015 on Skellig Michael, an island off the coast of mainland Ireland that was first used for The Force Awakens in 2014. This sequence with filmed with IMAX cameras. Before leaving, the crew donated €10,000 to the ferry service that had transported them to-and-from the island. Production officially began in England in February 2016, under the working title of "Space Bear". From March 9-16, production took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, followed by a return to Ireland for twelve weeks in County Cork. In an interview with Polygon, Hamill described the security measures on set: "You get your pages in the morning, and they take them from you as you walk so they can shred them before it somehow leaks. You have security lines you have to walk through, both to and from set. And, not to mention, you have to wear these big monk hoods to protect your costume from drones." By June 2016, filming was "in the home stretch." Principal photography of Episode VIII wrapped on July 22, 2016. Johnson began editing on August 15, 2016. Carrie Fisher passed away on December 27, 2016, though she had completed her work on the film before her death. Bob Iger later confirmed that her character's storyline in the film would not be altered from what was shot and that her character would not be recreated digitally.
Many of the same prop-makers from Episode VII returned to work on the next film in the saga.
During a concert with the Young Musician's Foundation Debut Orchestra on February 9, 2013, composer John Williams voiced his desire to write the musical scores for all three films of the sequel trilogy. Star Wars Insider 144 implied that he would score the entire "new Star Wars trilogy," but Lucasfilm clarified that he had only been confirmed for Episode VII at the time. At a Tanglewood concert in August 2016, Williams confirmed he was scheduled to start scoring Episode VIII "in the next few weeks." Williams is recording the score from December 2016 through March or April 2017.
The Last Jedi topped polls from both Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes as the most anticipated film of 2017. Rian Johnson first publically discussed the film in a panel at Celebration Europe. The film's title, The Last Jedi, was announced on January 23, 2017. The title announcement was accompanied with a release of a logo for the film featuring the Star Wars logo in red rather than its traditional logo. This coloring change, previously seen with Return of the Jedi and with "Brothers" and "Revenge," installments of Star Wars: The Clone Wars focused on Darth Maul, led some to speculate that the film's creators may be hinting at dark events within the film. The title's announcement also launched a frenzy of online speculation in regard to the identity of the "last Jedi," with some noting that the term "Jedi" can be used plurally. (Foreign translations also had the title as plural.) However, Rian Johnson later confirmed that the title is singular and refers specifically to Luke Skywalker.
Footage of The Last Jedi was shared with Disney shareholders in March 2017, including a look at the beginning of the film, which happens immediately following the ending of The Force Awakens. Disney CEO Bob Iger, having seen the film, referred to it as a "perfect chapter" in the saga, stating "I can promise you it's worth the wait." On April 11, Hamill and Ridley appeared on Good Morning America to promote the Force for Change charity; One of the three rewards will be a trip for two to the premiere of The Last Jedi. Cast and crew featured in a Last Jedi panel at Celebration Orlando. At the end of the panel, Johnson debuted a teaser poster and teaser trailer.
Like with The Force Awakens, the months leading up to the debut of The Last Jedi will see the release of several novels, short stories, comics, reference books, and activity books entitled the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The media, written and created by several different authors, will cover various topics related to The Last Jedi as well as other aspects of the Star Wars universe.
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Notes and references
- #500 Live: Rian Johnson / Top 5 Films of FS Era. filmspotting.net (August 1, 2014). Retrieved on September 26, 2014.
- Rian Johnson (Looper) Talks with Terry Gilliam (The Zero Theorem) for The Talkhouse Film Podcast (Part 1). thetalkhouse.com (September 18, 2014). Retrieved on September 26, 2014.