Star Wars: Episode VIII Will Start Where The Force Awakens Left Off, More Info Revealed

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Director Rian Johnson just wrapped up filming for Star Wars: Episode VIII. They even had a party to celebrate the milestone in London last week. This weekend, Johnson appeared at Star Wars Celebration Europe, where he was joined by stars Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and John Boyega, and he revealed some details about the highly-anticipated sequel.

We've heard several rumors about Episode VIII's story online, and none of them have been confirmed, but Johnson did reveal its story will pick up where The Force Awakens left off:

"This is going to start right where the last one left off. It was a break from tradition."
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This kind of transition is new to the franchise since we've never seen a Star Wars film that started from the Episode before it. It's good to know that Johnson is bringing something new to the saga. While The Force Awakens was introducing the new trilogy's key characters, Johnson said that the sequel will further develop them:

"The second film is where we zoom into the characters, getting to the heart of them and challenging them."

We're all excited to see how Luke Skywalker has changed over the years, and what role he'll be playing in the new story. Mark Hamill recently dropped a hint about his character's fate, but we're still not 100% sure if he'll return in Episode IX. Johnson went on to talk about the shooting location where the film starts:

"Skellig Michael is an incredibly mystical place. To be there and have that be the first thing we were shooting was an appropriately surreal way to start everything off."

Johnson said that he watched a few movies as inspirations to prepare shooting the film. He said that the 19499 WWII drama Twelve O'Clock High "became extremely important. He also watched the 1959 survival adventure Letter Never Sent, and other classic such as The Bridge On The River Kwai,The Dambusters, Sahara, and Gunga Din.

The director spent six weeks at Lucasfilm developing the story for Episode VIII.

"We would watch dailies come in from VII. It was probably really healthy creating the story based on our reactions to the footage rather than the cultural reactions. It was a unique experience."

Boyega praised Johnson's filmmaking talents:

"Rian is awesome. He is doing an indie movie within a studio franchise. It is so much fun… Rian has a new energy for a new story."

Star Wars: Episode VIII is set to release in theaters on December 15, 2017.