"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is still four months away before it hits the theatres worldwide, but speculations regarding "Episode VIII" are already flooding online.
Rian Johnson, who is confirmed to direct "Episode VIII", is all set to work on the next untitled Star Wars film. Lucasfilm has confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that "Star Wars: Episode VIII" will begin filming in Ireland later this month on the island of Skellig Michael.
Earlier, confusion surfaced when Irish news outlet RTE reported that the studio was returning to Ireland to reshoot parts of "The Force Awakens". Given that a majority of scenes in "Episode VII" were filmed there, the conclusion was natural.
Eventually, Lucasfilm clarified that the confusion arose because they wanted to stay "low-key" by using the title Star Wars instead of a specific Episode title. Though how they planned to stay low-key with Star Wars title when "The Force Awakens" is in news everywhere these days is still a mystery.
Reportedly, "The Force Awakens" did have some re-filming in the summer including last month when the cast was gathered in California for the D23 Expo.
Lucasfilm is also gearing up to deliver a Star Wars film once a year between the episodic titles and the spin-off stories (formerly known as anthology films). Even with the planned schedules, the start of production of "Episode VIII" is well ahead of the anticipated production schedule, which was assumed to begin early next year. The most likely reason behind it may be something less dramatic like talent availability or weather conditions.
Also, there is a possibility that "The Force Awakens" might have post-credit scenes in the manner of Marvel movies to build a bridge between "Episode VII" and "Episode VIII". It might be that the studio was in Ireland to film for those parts.
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will be released in theatres on 18 December, 2015 and Episode VIII is scheduled to be released on 26 May, 2017.