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Star Wars: Rogue One is the first Star Wars spinoff film, coming December 2016

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Star Wars: Rogue One is the title of the first Star Wars film outside the main series, Lucasfilm and Disney announced today.

Rogue One will be the first in a separate series of movies that focus on "the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga," said Lucasfilm on the official Star Wars website. Filming will begin this summer in London, directed by Gareth Edwards based on a script by Chris Weitz (About a Boy, Antz). As previously announced, Rogue One is set to premiere Dec. 16, 2016. Lucasfilm and Disney originally announced the project in May 2014.

Weitz is picking up from where Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli) left off; Whitta announced earlier this year that he left the project. Rogue One is being executive-produced by Industrial Light and Magic chief creative officer John Knoll, who came up with the idea for its story, along with Simon Emanuel (The Dark Knight Rises, Fast & Furious 6) and Jason McGatlin (Tintin, War of the Worlds).

Felicity Jones, who garnered an Academy Award nomination this year for her performance as Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything, is the first actor to be cast in Rogue One, Lucasfilm also announced.

The next Star Wars film will be Episode VII of the main saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (image above), which premieres Dec. 18. Lucasfilm and Disney confirmed today that Episode VIII, which is being directed by Rian Johnson, will hit theaters May 26, 2017, one day after the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars: A New Hope.