Back in September, it was revealed that director Rian Johnson filmed some scenes from Star Wars: Episode VIII at Skellig Michael Island in Ireland, the location where fans first saw Luke Skywalker at the very end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The shoot wasn't part of principal photography, though, with production on the sequel set to begin in earnest in January. Today we have a new report from Meet the Movie Press' Jeffrey Sneider, who revealed that production has been pushed a month to February, so writer-director Rian Johnson can rewrite the script. Here's what he had to say, adding more about rumored cast members Bel Powley and Gina Rodriguez.
"Last week we mentioned Bel Powely and Gina Rodriguez. Now I heard Gina didn't get it. Now I am told Episode VIII has been pushed about a month. Rian Johnson is going to do another rewrite, and I heard an Asian actress got the role Bel and Gina were up for. But I don't know if the Bel Powely thing will work out. I said before there were two young female roles, now I actually heard that the rewrite will make these roles smaller. They want to get to know better the characters they already have. So the new rewrite is shrinking the new roles in order to spend more time with Rey, Poe and so on."
Jeffrey Sneider wouldn't reveal the identity of the Asian actress who supposedly won this role, only hinting that she is from a smaller talent agency and she isn't very well known. It's possible that the casting of this actress could be an attempt to broaden its appeal in Asian markets like China, now the second biggest box office market in the world behind the U.S., but her casting hasn't been confirmed at this time. The blockbuster has only earned $96 million in China since opening on January 9 in the country, which is considered quite lackluster by most standards, so it's possible that LucasFilm could be trying to boost interest for Chinese audiences by casting an Asian actress.
While no actors have been confirmed for the movie yet, Star Wars: The Force Awakens stars Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Leia), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), John Boyega (Finn) and Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma) are expected to return. Benicio Del Toro has also been rumored to play the main villain in this highly-anticipated sequel, but with production begin delayed to February, it's possible we still may not get a confirmed cast list anytime soon. Since the early footage was shot at Skellig Michael Island, many assume that the movie will take place directly after Rey meets Luke Skywalker at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but we don't know for sure quite yet.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already broken Avatar's domestic box office record of $760.5 million, earning $858.4 million in North America to date. Thanks to a lukewarm reception in China, though, it doesn't appear that the blockbuster can break Avatar's global record of $2.7 billion, with a current worldwide tally of $1.87 billion so far. We'll have to wait and see if Star Wars: Episode VIII has a shot at breaking this record when it hits theaters on May 26, 2017. Stay tuned for more on this highly-anticipated sequel before production starts next month.