Each Star Wars movie opens with the text "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." but news coming on Thursday puts the next movies not so long from now and not so far away.
During a Disney shareholder meeting today, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger revealed details about the first Star Wars stand-alone movie as well as the next in the episodic series after J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Rogue One is the name given for Gareth Edwards' spin-off film with actress Felicity Jones. Using a script by Cinderella's Chris Weitz based on a story idea by John Knoll, the film will begin shooting this summer with plans for a release December 16, 2016. Although no details have been released on the story of this movie or even where in the Star Wars timeline it takes place, the use of the name "Rogue One" is interesting. Star Wars fans will recall that "Rogue One" is the callsign for the leader of the original trilogy X-Wing fighter pilots known as Rogue Squadron.
In the movies, Wedge Antilles was the most notable to be known as "Rogue One" although the title was also held by Luke Skyalker for a period. Although the post-Return of the Jedi continuity for Star Wars was thrown out when Disney bought LucasFilm, in the original continuity a number of people later took on the "Rogue One" moniker, including Jaina Solo Fel, the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia.
Following that will be the next in the Star Wars episodic movies with the eigth installment by writer/director Rian Johnson on May 26, 2017. There's no details on the final title or plot of that, but the release date places it coincidentially 40 years and a day after the original release of Star Wars: A New Hope.