Let's talk about Star Wars for a minute.
The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 and announced shortly after the production of a sequel trilogy that includes episodes 7 through 9. More recently, it announced the production of a "few standalone" films, one of which is considered a spin-off that will tell the back story of space smuggler Han Solo.
Confused about how many films are currently being made? Yeah, we understand.
A few years ago the world collectively thought there would be no more Star Wars films ever made, but now, there are several in the works. To help you better understand what's happening with the space saga now under Disney's control, we've detailed everything you need to know about the franchise's upcoming films.
Star Wars sequel trilogy
The sequel trilogy is an upcoming set of films that Star Wars fans have been waiting for and hearing about for decades. It will consist of Episode VII The Force Awakens, Episode VIII, and Episode IX.
Both Mark Hamill (best known for portraying the hero Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy) and George Lucas (the series creator) have repeatedy claimed since the 1970s that Lucas wanted to make more Star Wars films. Hamill said that four Star Wars trilogies were planned, while Lucas said there were about seven more films.
Lucas, of course, eventually worked on and released a prequel trilogy between 1999 and 2005, which consisted of Episode 1 The Phantom Menace, Episode II Attack of the Clones, and Episode III Revenge of the Sith. He also developed treatments for a sequel trilogy, which would consist of episodes VII, VIII, and IX.
He turned those treatments over to Disney chairman Bob Iger around the time Lucasfilm was sold to Disney in 2012, though ultimately, Disney chose not to use them and created new stories for the upcoming movies instead.
Here's what we know so far about the sequel trilogy...
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes place approximately 30 years after the events of Episode VI Return of the Jedi. The Force Awaken's first trailer, which debuted last November, showed a desert planet that many assumed was Tatooine. The film's director has since revealed it is a new planet called Jakku.
The film stars a younger cast of actors (Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, and John Boyega) as well as characters from the original trilogy, including Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia,C-3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca. Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher are reprising their roles from the original trilogy.
- US release date:18 December 2015
- Directors: JJ Abrams
- Screenwriters: Lawrence Kasdan and JJ Abrams
Star Wars: Episode VIII
Director Rian Johnson confirmed in 2014 that he will write and direct Episode VIII, as well as write a story treatment for Episode IX. Not much else is known about the film at this time, but it was reported that actress Daisy Ridley, who will play a lead role in Episode VII, may reprise her role in both Episodes VIII and IX.
- US release date: 26 May 2017
- Directors: Rian Johnson
- Screenwriters: Rian Johnson
Star Wars: Episode IX
We're still in early-days territory here, so all we know about Episode IX is that it should release in 2019. Also, Rian Johnson, who is directing and writing Episode VIII, has penned a story treatment for the film.
- US release date: 2019
- Directors: N/A
- Screenwriters: Rian Johnson
Star Wars Anthology films
Disney announced at Celebration Anaheim in 2015 that it would start production on something called the Star Wars Anthology Series. It's a banner title for a series of standalone Star Wars films, which will consist of: Rogue One, an Untitled Han Solo film, and possibly a third film about Boba Fett.
Disney confirmed three standalone films would be released within the next 10 years. The company plans to release films from the sequel trilogy every two years starting in 2015 and standalone films from the anthology series in-between those years. Here's what we know so far about the anthology...
Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One
Rogue One is about a rogue band of resistance fighters who "unite to steal the Death Star plans and bring new hope to the galaxy". Disney posted a blog post earlier this year in order to hint that the film will explore the characters and events "beyond the core Star Wars saga", but the company didn't provide 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. She was most recently Oscar-nominated for her performance in The Theory of Everything.
- US release date: 16 December 2016
- Directors: Gareth Edwards
- Screenwriters: Chris Weitz
Star Wars Anthology: Untitled Han Solo film
Disney confirmed the second film in the Anthology will follow the back story of Han Solo. It'll be directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, the men behind The Lego Movie. And the script will be co-written by Lawrence Kasdan, who also helped pen The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens.
- US release date: 15 May 2018
- Directors: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
- Screenwriters: Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan