(NEW YORK) — Wednesday is May 4th, and thanks to a punny 1979 London Evening News headline and a legion of die-hard fans, it’s known the world over as “Star Wars Day.” The headline about the election of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher — “May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations” — inspired a grassroots movement for Star Wars junkies to celebrate George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.
It’s no secret that the most recent Star Wars adventure, J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, became an instant blockbuster, and slew a series of box office records longer than the Kessel Run. The movie, the first in a new trilogy, became the fastest film to gross $1 billion — 12 days — and highest-grossing Star Wars film, earning more than two billion and counting to date.
The movie will be followed on December 15, 2017 by Episode VIII, directed by Looper‘s Rian Johnson, and Episode IX, directed by Jurassic World‘s Colin Trevorrow, on May 23, 2019.
The Force Awakens stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver will reportedly return for VIII, as will Mark Hamill, who was only seen at the close of the film that centered on finding his self-exiled Jedi Luke Skywalker. Not much is known of the plot, save it will be darker than Abrams’ film.
The Force Awakens was also nominated for five Academy Awards, and its success paved the way for a new series of “anthology” films, the first of which will be Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Godzilla‘s Gareth Edwards will call the shots on that movie, which details the Rebellion’s theft of the Death Star plans that wind up in R2D2’s rusty innards. Those plans eventually lead to the destruction of the flying battle station at the hands of a backwater bush pilot named Luke Skywalker in 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.
Rogue One stars Felicity Jones as rebellious freedom fighter Jyn Erso, as well as Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker, and Ben Mendelsohn, and will reportedly also feature none other than the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader. It opens December 16.
Two other anthology films have been slated for release, one centering on a young Han Solo set for a May 25, 2018 release, and the other rumored to follow the early adventures of Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who eventually captures that cocky Corellian smuggler in The Empire Strikes Back. The third anthology film will supposedly bow in 2020.
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