Star Wars: Episode 8 release date, trailers and rumors

Update: The first official trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is here.

Original article follows...

We are just three excruciating months away from the release of Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi – the eighth film in the mainline Star Wars series and one that we are itching to see. 

Here's the good news: Production wrapped on the eighth episode back in July, which means the film is definitely on track for its December 15 release date. 

Despite being less than a year away, however, there hasn't been too much said about what the sequel to one of 2015's highest grossing films has in store.

That said, we've done a bit of digging and found some information of our own.

So, what do we expect to see from Episode VIII? If you haven't yet seen The Force Awakens, a) what is wrong with you? and b) spoilers will lie ahead. Big ones. We're talking massive, planet-destroying spoilers. Got it? Good.

Let's continue.

Episode VIII title and release date

Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi will hit cinemas on December 15 2017, after being pushed back from its initial release date of May 26 the same year. It means waiting an extra seven months, but we did think that the original timeframe was a bit ambitious for a film of this scale.

The title is obviously a cryptic one. The Last Jedi could mean any number of things but chances are good that it's a reference to Luke's new padawan, Rey. 

Considering that both Luke and Leia are Jedi, there are obviously more than one of the galactic space wizards left in the galaxy but Rey, as we know from Episode VII The Force Awakens, might be the last person to carry the title Jedi. 

Scary as it might seem, it could also be a reference to the possible deaths of Luke and Leia in the franchise, making the title very literal. 

Of course, this is all just conjecture at this point as Rey, Luke and Leia are all seen in the latest trailer alive and well.

Star Wars: Episode 8 The Last Jedi poster

Trailers

The first official trailer for Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi is here and it looks smashing! You can check out the trailer but a warning- it reveals some story plots.

The most recent trailer was revealed at Disney's D23 Expo in July and you can watch it for yourself below.

The first teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi was unveiled during Star Wars Celebration 2017. Check it out below! 

Of course, then there was the Disney D23 event held in Anaheim, CA. We got a surprising amount of Star Wars news from of Disney's big fan event and although we didn't get an official story trailer, we did get a behind-the-scenes sizzle reel as has been released prior to previous films. 

At just under three minutes long, this video shows exciting clips from the film itself as well as from its shooting. There are interviews with cast and crew and an insight into Rey's continuing journey, the many exciting new aliens that are being physically crafted for the film as well as how much work goes into special effects. 

You can watch the video for yourself below:

Episode 8 casting

JJ Abrams will be hopping off the director's chair and handing over the reins to Rian Johnson, best known for writing and directing Brick and Looper (and a few episodes of Breaking Bad). Abrams will stay as executive producer, however.

It's been confirmed that all of the original cast members (barring Harrison Ford) will be making a return. Joining them this time is Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.

So who, exactly, are these new cast members going to play in Episode 8? 

Well, again, there's no confirmation here, but Del Toro was recently listed on a site called Wikiwand as Sir Vicrum Fett, a clear homage and perhaps descendent of Jango Fett and perhaps a brother to Boba Fett, the feared and very easily killed bounty hunter from the original trilogy.

As for Laura Dern, according to our sister site GamesRadar+, she's most likely going to play Admiral Holdo, a stylish New Order commander who's as smart as Leia but with a vicious twist.

Finally, newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, we actually have some good information on how she'll fit into The Last Jedi. She'll be playing the role of Rose, a member of The Resistance forces a.k.a. what became of the Rebel Alliance after the establishment of the New Republic at the end of Episode VI. 

SW

Episode 8: what we know of the story so far

Little is known about what VIII's story will hold, but we do know that it will pick up straight after The Force Awakens, with Rey having discovered Luke Skywalker's whereabouts, as confirmed by the teaser trailer.

The Force Awakens left many questions unanswered. Who is Rey really? Is Finn Force sensitive? What's with C-3PO's red arm? Why is R2-D2, the bearer of all knowledge who refuses to tell anyone anything, such a dick?

Colin Trevorrow, who will be directing Episode IX, has already promised us a "profoundly satisfying" answer to the mystery surrounding Rey's parents.

"Rey is a character that is important in this universe, not just in the context of The Force Awakens, but in the entire galaxy," he said. "She deserves it. We'll make sure that that answer is something that feels like it was something that happened a long time ago, far away, and we're just telling you what happened."

One theory is that Luke is Rey's father, but… surely it's got to be something more interesting than that, right?

The Force Awakens ended with a wounded Kylo Ren being taken to Supreme Leader Snoke to complete his training - but what does that mean? And more importantly, who is Snoke? One theory that has been floating about, courtesy of this tweet, is that Snoke is actually Vader, who didn't really die. We don't buy it for a second, but the scar is admittedly convincing.

We expect some of the film will show Luke training Rey, harking back to his own training from Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. It will also be interesting to see how Kylo Ren's character develops. He just murdered his own father, but he's still conflicted between the dark side and the light - or was Han's death the final part of his transition to Sith?

Either way, it's a script that's been well received by Kylo Ren actor Adam Driver. Speaking to Collider, he's compared the next entry to the hallowed Empire Strikes Back.

Episode 8 set photos

On April 28 director Rian Johnson celebrated hitting the halfway point in the Episode 8's filming schedule by releasing a couple of set photos.

Episode 8 Set Photo

The photos don't shed much new light on the film, but it's nice to see confirmation that Episode 8 will indeed contain the ships and shiny helmets that the series is known for.

Episode 8 Set Photo

Bonus: A Tribute to Carrie Fisher

One of the cinema world's most tragic losses last year was that of Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia). Her death came as a bitter shock and one that no one could have predicted. While many in the community mourn her loss, we feel there needs to be a heartfelt thank you given to the woman who helped inspire thousands of women to be leaders, actresses and good-hearted people. 

A fantastic tribute debuted at Star Wars Celebration 2017 which we feel has perfectly summarized the life of the actress and her contributions to the series.

Want more on Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi? Keep checking back here as we approach the film's December 15, 2017 release date. 

Episode 9?

Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi isn't even out yet, but that doesn't mean it's too early to start talking about the film's sequel – and book-end for the new trilogy – Star Wars Episode 9, which will now open on December 20, 2019. 

Recently it was announced that the film's first director Colin Trevorrow was ousted from his role, a blow lessened when, less than a day later, it was announced that J.J. Abrams would be returning to co-write and direct the 9th film. 

Given his experience with the franchise (he directed and co-wrote The Force Awakens), our take is that Abrams is a good choice to tie up new trilogy – even if that means moving the film's release date back a few months to accommodate the switch.

Joe Osborne and Hugh Langley have also contributed to this report