During an official call about Walt Disney’s Quarterly Earnings Report (which were through the roof, surprise surprise, at a record $2.9 billion), CEO Bob Iger announced that cameras had begun to roll on the set of Star Wars: Episode VII.
Here’s the official statement, with an intriguing bit at the end:
“There is no better way to propel this franchise into the future than producing quality products. Filming of Star Wars: Episode VIII, the next chapter of the legendary saga, has just commenced and it will be in theaters December 2017. And production of Episode IX, a 2019 release, has also begun.”
Production on Episode IX has also begun?! If that means what it should technically mean, well, that’s an unexpected and possibly not-so-insignificant footnote.
In the film business, using the term “production” means to be literally filming, not pre-planning (the official term for that is, naturally, “pre-production”). So if film is already capturing some elements of Episode IX, even if only minor, that should continue to boost the regained faith of fans everywhere. It would suggest that the entire narrative arc of the full trilogy has truly been planned out, in detail (not just in broad strokes), as is the production schedule of it all.
Also of note: “pre-filming” for Episode VIII was actually done last fall, in September, before the script or pre-production was complete. Under the direction of Rian Johnson (also Episode VIII’s sole writer), pre-filming took place on the Irish island of Skellig Michael, the same location for the final scenes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. How much was shot is unknown, but it was likely done at that time to avoid any impending seasonal weather shifts.
Iger also mentioned that filming for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is “virtually completed,” and that they “love” what they’ve seen of the first Anthology installment from director Gareth Edwards. Iger also said that pre-production of the next Anthology movie – the untitled “young Han Solo movie” – is in full swing. That’s being directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie and the 21 Jump Street reboots).
The still-untitled Episode VIII – which co-star John Boyega has described as “much darker” – will hit theaters on December 16, 2017.