Exciting news for Star Wars fans!
On Thursday, at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced the news of a Star Wars stand-alone film, which, according to the press release, is expected to explore "the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga."
The film, which is titled Rogue One, has already begun casting and its first star—Oscar nominated actress Felicity Jones—was announced in conjunction with the spin-off (her casting was rumored last month).
Rogue One will be directed by Gareth Edwards, whose notable credits include Godzilla and Monsters, and written by Chris Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy). The film is expected to start shooting this summer in London and is due for release on December 16, 2016.
In addition to the Rogue One scoop, Iger confirmed that Rian Johnson will write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII. The forthcoming film, which follows the saga after the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will hit theaters on May 26, 2017, just more than 40 years after the 1977 release of Star Wars: A New Hope.
"We are working on a few stand-alone films, derived from great Star Wars characters that are not part of the overall saga," Iger previously said before promising, "The implications for Star Wars fans will be great."
Meanwhile, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is currently in post-production and is due for release on December 18, 2015.
The highly anticipated flick stars original castmembers Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew and will also see newcomers such as John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis and Domhnall Gleeson.