Star Wars VIII Gets a Surprising Release Date and the Spin-Off Gets a Surprising Title

By  · Published on March 12th, 2015

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Many of us have wrongly assumed that Star Wars: Episode VIII would arrive exactly two years following this year’s Episode VII, aka Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Instead, it’s coming sooner. More than six months sooner. According to, the release date for the sequel was revealed during a shareholders meeting this morning, and that date is officially May 26, 2017.

That’s roughly the 40th anniversary of the original Star Wars and similar to the May dates of its two sequels and three prequels, so the timing does make a lot of sense. Even more than the logic of moving out of the way of Avatar 3, which is set for December of that year. In other Episode VIII news, Rian Johnson has officially been confirmed as its writer and director.

The meeting, which was led by Disney head Bob Iger, also brought some news of the Star Wars spin-off (or standalone or solo movie or sidequel or whatever is the proper term) being helmed by Gareth Edwards, written by Chris Weitz and to star Felicity Jones. This sidecar of the franchise, which begins shooting this summer for a December 16, 2016, release (competing with Avatar 2), is now officially titled Star Wars: Rogue One.

That doesn’t really sound like it’s about young Han Solo or Boba Fett or a heist plot involving multiple bounty hunter characters. Although the plot is still unknown, it apparently originates with an idea from visual effects artist John Knoll, who also played pilots in The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith. The title implies a connection to the pilot-focused “Star Wars: X-wing Rogue Squadron” comics and related video game series.

“Rogue One,” according to the Star Wars Wiki, is a term for the Rogue Squadron Leader (also called “Rogue Leader”), a position we’ve seen in the movies filled by Wedge Antilles and Luke Skywalker. Could this be a slice of Wedge’s early life? We’ve also seen the position in the now-non-canon books by Jaina Solo, daughter of Han and Leia. It’s not likely that Star Wars: Rogue One will be about her, but if so that would be an even bigger surprise than the today’s title reveal.

Let the guessing begin on what the title means for what we can expect from the mysterious Star Wars installment.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.