Star Wars news: Episode VII poster, Episode IX director, Rogue One cast, Disney park expansions

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Lots of Star Wars news out of Disney’s D23 Expo today! Let’s hyperspace-jump right into it …

The Force Awakens

Drew Struzan’s epic theatrical poster for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens was unveiled and given to many attendees. It features John Boyega’s Finn wielding a blue lightsaber (Anakin/Luke Skywalker’s?), Daisy Risley’s Rey looking stern and seeming to straddle the dark and the light, and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren with his distinctive red blade, as well as a gruff but formidable Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Other elements include X-Wing and TIE starfighters, Imperial-style light fixtures and what may be the planet Tatooine (although so far signs that the twin-sunned world would appear in Episode VII have been inconclusive; the desert world we’ve seen so far has been called Jakku).

Episode IX

Colin Trevorrow to direct Star Wars: Episode IX
Colin Trevorrow

Colin Trevorrow, who directed Jurassic World, joins J.J. Abrams (Episode VII – The Force Awakens) and Rian Johnson (Episode VIII) behind the camera of the sequel trilogy for 2019’s Episode IX. His reaction: “This is not a job or an assignment. It is a seat at a campfire, surrounded by an extraordinary group of storytellers, filmmakers, artists and craftspeople. We’ve been charged with telling new stories for a younger generation because they deserve what we all had—a mythology to call their own. We will do this by channeling something George Lucas instilled in all of us: boundless creativity, pure invention and hope.”

Rogue One

Rogue One is fully in production now. In addition to the already-announced Felicity Jones, the cast of Gareth Edwards’ Episode IV prequel now includes Diego Luna, Men Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk and Riz Ahmed. Tudyk, of Firefly and Con Man fame, will play a digital performance-capture character. Producer and Lucasfilm executive Kathleen Kennedy said: “Rogue One takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and will be a departure from the saga films but have elements that are familiar to the Star Wars universe,” says Kathleen Kennedy. “It goes into new territory, exploring the galactic struggle from a ground-war perspective while maintaining that essential Star Wars feel that fans have come to know. Gareth is such an innovative director and I’m so excited to be working with him and the extraordinary ensemble cast he’s selected for ‘Rogue One.’ ”

Star Wars: Rogue One

Rather than “Star Wars Anthology,” Rogue One is now labeled/subtitled “A Star Wars Story.” It’s due out Dec. 16, 2016.

Disney parks

Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida will both expand by 14 acres each to include dedicated Star Wars areas that will include a Millennium Falcon attraction. In addition, Star Tours: The Adventure Continues will be updated later this year with a “destination” from The Force Awakens. There will also be updates to the Jedi Academy experience and many other Star Wars events at the park, including an overlay of Star Wars vehicles, music and effects that will temporarily turn Space Mountain into “Hyperspace Mountain.” The timeline for the park expansions isn’t clear, but it’s certain to take some time.

About Jayson Peters

Nerdvana's founder and owner. A former East Valley Tribune copy editor, page designer and website editor, he is now Digital Editor for The Pueblo Chieftain in Southern Colorado, a web design instructor at Pueblo Community College and president of the Southern Colorado Press Club. He has contributed to the popular GeekDad blog and taught online media at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, his alma mater. Lifelong Star Wars fan and Trekker who also worships all things Tolkien and Doctor Who.