Principal photography for Episode 8 was initially scheduled to have begun this month, but director/writer Rian Johnson is taking his time to make sure the script lines up with Episode 7 and the casting of new characters falls into place. Good. Though the May, 2017 release date already puts The Force Awaken’s sequel at less than a year and a half away, it’s nice to hear that the film makers aren’t rushing things. Episode 7 gave us a ton of stuff to digest, and myriad plot lines and character arcs to continue. Johnson and Abrams have already had multiple meetings to ensure the story lines stay on target.
There’s also rumors going around on some new roles, specifically a new female character or two, but the producers don’t want to go too far in introducing too many new characters while fans have endeared themselves to the new cast.
The Force Awakens spent a great deal of time establishing a new core group for the franchise in Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren, so many fans would probably want Episode VIII to feature more of them and not shortchanged for more fresh faces. In addition to continuing the stories of the young characters, Episode VIII will also have a meatier role for Luke Skywalker, possibly reveal more about Supreme Leader Snoke, and have appearances by some other original trilogy heroes. The roster of characters is quite full, even before the new additions are added.
Writer Jeff Sneider from The Wrap has also reported one of the new actresses being looked at is a young Asian woman from a small agency. Despite a massive promotion campaign from Disney that included hundreds of stormtroopers lining up on the Great Wall, The Force Awakens isn’t performing quite as well as many had hoped it would in China (though it is doing well), and the inclusion of an Asian actress may bolster interest in future installments of the franchise.
With Rogue One coming at the end of this year, and Episode 8 arriving next summer, the Star Wars franchise is accelerating full throttle, attack speed!