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'Star Wars: Episode VIII' Release Date Revealed, First Spin-Off Confirmed

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Ever since the Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens teaser came out around Thanksgiving, fans have been waiting patiently for their next look at the film. Many expect a trailer to be attached to Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, while some speculate that movie-goers will have to wait even longer to catch another glimpse of Episode VII.

Of course, Disney isn't just thinking about this year's big return to theaters: no, the studio is thinking far in advance. So far, in fact, that the next two movies already have tentative release dates.

That's right, two: Star Wars Episode VIII is now scheduled for a 2017 debut, and the first-ever Star Wars spin-off is scheduled for 2016.

Following the premiere of Star Wars Episode VII this December, Gareth Edwards - the man behind the 2014 Godzilla reboot - will take the series' reigns. Edwards will be directing Star Wars' first spin-off (the Ewok Adventure movies don't count), titled Rogue One for a release on Dec 17, 2016. As of this writing, there are no real details on the film or its plot, but Rogue One does sound like a callback to the Rogue Squadron, a group of ace X-Wing pilots from the original expanded universe. The only real information that's been revealed about the project is that Felicity Jones will star as the lead role.

Following Rogue One, Rian Johnson will take over for J.J. Abrams as director of Episode VIII, which is set for a 2017 release. It's worth noting that Episode VIII will debut on May 26th, 2017, bringing the series back to its traditional May release window (Episode VII was originally supposed to debut this May, but was pushed back to help production). While it's basically guaranteed that much of Episode VII's cast will continue over to Episode VIII, no casting information has been revealed quite yet.

Between the movies, games and comics, it's clear that Star Wars is making a comeback in a big way - let's just hope that it turns out better than the Prequels did.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens hits theaters on Dec. 18.

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