Disney has a lot of Star Wars stuff planned over the next couple of years: it's just set a premiere date for Episode VIII, for instance, and it's busy making a spin-off film called Rogue One.

It's unclear what the story for the spin-off film is about, apart from the fact that it'll be set in the same universe as the Star Wars space opera, but it could take a deeper look at fan-favourite characters like Han Solo. Disney posted a blog post earlier today and hinted that the film will explore the characters and events "beyond the core Star Wars saga", but the company didn't add any more details.

It'll be directed by Gareth Edwards, who did last year's Godzilla, while Chris Weitz, who wrote Antz and The Golden Compass, is signed on as the film's screenwriter. Felicity Jones has already been named as the first actor to be cast, though we don't know if she is starring. She was most recently Oscar-nominated for her performance as Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.06 billion. Thus, while Disney is restarting the Star Wars franchise, it still has to make money (and not just through lucrative merchandising). It's therefore not surprising that Disney is capitalising on the franchise by making a new film that'll expand the Star Wars universe. It's even making a Lego-Star Wars TV series.

Some reports have suggested that Disney wants to give a woman the primary lead in Rogue One, but that hasn't been confirmed. The film is definitely aiming for a 16 December 2016 release date though, so it should start shooting in London this summer. Alongside news about the spin-off film, Disney also confirmed that Rian Johnson will write and direct Episode VIII.

READ: Disney and Lego team up to make Star Wars animated series

Disneydisney reveals star wars episode viii release date and says it s making a star wars spin off image 2

J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens, which is the first film in the new Star Wars trilogy, will be followed up by a second film that's subtitled Episode VIII. Disney said it will hit theaters on 16 May 2017, exactly 40 years and one day after the first Star Wars film premiered in 1977. Johnson, who has been rumoured to be writing the second film, also has experience directing films like Looper.

You can expect Disney to announce more details about both films in the coming months.