Rian Johnson teases a familiar set in a new ‘Star Wars Episode VIII’ image

Rian Johnson maintains a fairly playful and open presence on social media, and while he's understandably been a little bit quieter than late while he's hard at work shooting Star Wars: Episode VIII, he has certainly enjoyed dropping tiny breadcrumbs, and I like today's breadcrumb quite a bit.

Is that the cockpit of the Falcon that cinematographer Steve Yedlin is standing in? It sure looks like it. And I'm sorry, but they're four weeks in already? It's exciting knowing that they're rolling, and I'm curious to see how tight a lid they're able to keep on things, especially considering how they're shooting on real locations like Dubrovnik in southern Croatia. I love seeing that Star Wars is willing to use real locations in the films even as they continue building sets at Pinewood Studios.



There's something lovely about just knowing that there is a Star Wars movie in production. It's a very strange feeling as a longtime fan of the series. When Star Wars Episode VIII comes out, I will have been a Star Wars fan for 40 years, and my own kids feel more ownership of the world than I do at this point. For them, this is an amazing and exhilarating time. This is their Star Wars. I was at an airport coming home from Sundance, waiting in a terminal for about three hours, and this entire tour group of kids in their mid-teens came in. One of them bought a special Star Wars edition of People magazine, and there was this crazy exuberance that just came pouring out of all of them. They all had their own theories and ideas about what might be coming in the sequels, and none of them were the same. I'd forgotten how much fun that is once a trilogy has begun. Everything's up in the air. Anything seems possible right now.

it's also exciting to hear reactions from people working on and around the film, even if no one's ready to be quoted directly. I've heard repeatedly that this doesn't feel like any other Star Wars film, how it approaches things differently, and how we're going to be surprised by the kind of story Rian Johnson is telling. The Force Awakens bought them all sorts of terrific goodwill with audiences, and that's exactly the moment where you should feel free to experiment and expand the boundaries of what a series can be. It helps that there is some great ongoing storytelling happening right now that has Star Wars fans more hooked in week-to-week way than they've ever been. Star Wars Rebels, which built off the foundation laid by the earlier series Star Wars The Clone Wars, is big emotional Star Wars stuff, and there's this air of impending tragedy that lends everything an urgency. In many ways, the animated shows have been the exact stories the fans wish had been told in the prequel films, and part of what makes the shows great is how they've taken these three deeply divisive movies and used them as the springboard for something that is rich and adult and dense and filled with great new characters that feel as much at home in this world as Luke Skywalker or Han Solo ever have.

That's the key, really, to what's fun about what's going on right now. It is new and old at the same time. We are in uncharted territory, but we know that it's Star Wars, and wherever we're going next, there are opportunities for all sorts of exciting storytelling to come. I can't believe we live in a world where we're getting a Rian Johnson Episode VIII, but I'm glad we do.

Star Wars: Episode VIII will be in theaters on December 15, 2017.