Here is the official press release:
In addition to the episodes of a new Star Wars trilogy, Lucasfilm and Disney have begun development on multiple stand-alone movies that will offer new stories beyond the core Saga. Gareth Edwards will direct the first stand-alone film, with a screenplay by Gary Whitta. The film is due out December 16, 2016.
Gareth Edwards blazed into the filmmaking forefront with his acclaimed work on Monsters, a film he wrote, directed and served on as cinematographer and visual effects artist. The skill and vision readily apparent in Monsters earned him the high-profile spot directing this year's smash hit Godzilla.
Said Gareth Edwards,
"Ever since I saw Star Wars I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life -- join the Rebel Alliance! I could not be more excited and honored to go on this mission with Lucasfilm."
Gary Whitta screenwriting credits include 2010's The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington. He is also well known as a journalist and editor in the video game industry, as well as part of the BAFTA award-winning team on Telltale Games adaptation of The Walking Dead.
Gary Whitta states,
"From the moment I first saw the original movie as a wide-eyed kid, Star Wars has been the single most profound inspiration to my imagination and to my career as a writer. It is deeply special to me,so to be given the opportunity to contribute to its ongoing legacy, especially in collaboration with a film-maker as talented as Gareth, is literally a dream come true. I'm still pinching myself."
Due to the high level of security surrounding the Star Wars Spin-Offs, it is not known which character Gareth Edwards is being charged with bringing to the screen in their own standalone adventure. A recent Hasbro conference seemingly revealed that the Untitled Star Wars Boba Fett Spin-Off will be first in 2016, followed by the Untitled Star Wars Han Solo Spin-Off in 2018 and Red 5 in 2020, which will focus on a group of X-Wing pilots. Of course, this was not confirmed by LucasFilm or Disney. It is also speculated that Yoda may be getting his own spin-off movie.
Earlier in May, Disney CEO Robert A. Iger confirmed that there are currently three spin-off movies in the planning stages right now, and that they will be released between installments of the new trilogy, with one arriving every other year. Lawrence Kasdan, who is co-writing Star Wars: Episode VII with director J.J. Abrams, is writing the spin-off movies alongside Simon Kinberg .
Director Gareth Edwards has been on an amazing trajectory. He first helmed the $500,00 budgeted thriller Monsters, which lead to his gig on Godzilla. And now he is moving to a galaxy far, far away.
At this time, Gareth Edwards is attached to direct Godzilla 2 and 3. A story currently exists for Godzilla 2 , but the film is still in the early development phases. It does not yet have a script. That leaves Gareth Edwards enough time before the sequel to do this LucasFilm spin-off.
Star Wars: Episode VII is currently in production, shooting in Abu Dhabi for a December 18 release date in 2015. As per the norm, Disney and Lucasfilm had no comment at press time.
Untitled Star Wars Han Solo Spin-Off comes to theaters in 2017 and stars Harrison Ford.