Star Wars 8 has started filming, Episode 9 already in production

The as-of-yet untitled follow-up to The Force Awakens is being directed by Rian Johnson

The Force Awakens' box office dust is only just settling but the cameras are already whirring for Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed the shoot's start saying: "Filming of Star Wars: Episode VIII, the next chapter of the legendary saga, has just commenced and it will be in theaters December 2017."

Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) is taking over from JJ Abrams as director while the majority of Episode VII's cast will return. Excitingly, Benicio del Toro is joining the cast as the film's chief villain.

Episode VIII was originally due for release in May 2017 but will be now be unleashed in the December instead to reportedly account for script rewrites.

While shooting was scheduled to begin in January, the pushback handed the crew an extra few weeks of principal photography.

Iger also confirmed that production has officially begun on Episode IX which will be directed by Jurassic World's Colin Trevorrow.

The Force Awakens is the third film in history to earn global box office takings of over $2 billion. A prequel to the saga is due to be released in the intervening years between each Episode, with the first one - Godzilla director Gareth Edwards' Rogue One - arriving this December.

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