The movie follows after Star Wars: The Force Awakens, also known as Episode VII. The Last Jedi, or Episode VIII, features writing and direction by Rian Johnson. Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman serve as producers, and J.J. Abrams returns to the series as executive producer, alongside Jason McGatlin and Tom Karnowski.
— Star Wars (@starwars) January 23, 2017
An interview between Johnson and USA Today’s Brian Truitt gives fans a sneak peek into the world ahead. For one, Johnson notes that the film will be a fun title that avoids going too dark. “I want it to be a blast and to be funny and to be a ride the way The Force Awakens and the original Star Wars movies were,” he said.
Johnson also plans to explore Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron’s stories and personalities in a deeper way, figuring out “what really makes them tick” when faced with major problems. Rey’s connection to Luke Skywalker will also play a major role in the film, mirroring an adolescent awakening that brings Rey from a child of the Force into adulthood. He hopes to give Luke an “emotional entry point” into the story while building their relationship.
Brian Truitt also notes that the late Carrie Fisher’s work on the movie was complete before her passing at the end of 2016, which means fans will be able to see her appearance in the film in its entirety. Still, Episode XI plans to feature a major scene for General Organa, meaning the Episode XI‘s crew must come together to figure out where to take her character going forward. No news yet as to how later productions will handle Fisher’s character, although there may be a solution similar to Rogue One‘s: the use of CGI material to recreate actors digitally. Time will tell where the series goes.