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Before Star Wars Episode VIII reaches cinemas, we’ve got Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to enjoy. Here’s everything you need to know about it before its release in December 2016.

What is the release date for Rogue One?

In the UK, Rogue One is released on December 15, 2016, while the US gets it on December 16.

What Rogue One trailers are available?

The first full trailer was released on Thursday, August 11 during NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. There’s a sassy bot, explosions, glimpses of the Death Star and one rather familiar face…

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer (Official)

Watch the official trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in which a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arrives in theaters December 16, 2016.

The second was released in October, and shows more action – as well as a shot of Darth Vader in action.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer #2 (Official)

Watch the official second trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in which Jyn Erso leads a group of unlikely heroes to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arrives in theaters December 16, 2016.

And the third – and surely final – trailer was released on November 10. There’s so much more footage of Darth Vader than ever before.

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY International Trailer #2 (2016) Sci-Fi Action Movie HD

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY International Trailer #2 (2016) Sci-Fi Action Movie HD

When is it set?

Rogue One is the first Star Wars feature film to take place outside the original canon created by George Lucas, and tells the story of a group of Rebel fighters attempting to steal the plans for the iconic Death Star. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film “takes place just before A New Hope and leads up to the 10 minutes before that classic film begins” – suggesting the film will end just before Leia is captured by Darth Vader.

Producer Kathleen Kennedy also made it clear that Rogue One is meant to be kept separate from the main canon, saying “There is no attempt being made to carry characters (from the stand-alone films) in and out of the saga episodes.”

What is Rogue One about?

Rogue One tells the story of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), who is tasked by the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans for the Death Star along with a group of spies that includes Clone War veteran Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). Jyn Erso’s dad, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), is a brilliant inventor who has been forced to work for the Empire.

Other members of the cast include Donnie Yet as spiritual warrior Chirrut Îmwe, Alan Tudyk as mean robot K-2SO, and former Ewok Warwick Davis, who will be returning to the Star Wars franchise in an as yet unspecified role. Fans may be most excited by the return of James Earl Jones, who’s bringing his voice back to the role of Darth Vader once more. Director Gareth Edwards has said that the character of Vader will be a “huge presence” in the film, adding “He’s got such a gravitational pull, the second he shows up you just get sucked into Darth Vader”. Kennedy confirmed however that Vader would only be in the movie “a small amount”.

Bloodline star Ben Mendelsohn also stars as Orson Krennic, the Empire’s new officer. His character is the director of the Advanced Weapons Research division of the Imperial Military in the film who often locks horns with Vader.

Who’s directing Rogue One?

Star Wars fans can sleep safe in the knowledge that the special effects are in good hands, with Gareth Edwards, director of the recent Godzilla movie and creator of independent classic Monsters taking the helm for Rogue One. Edwards’ background is largely in digital effects, but he has received much praise for his directorial exploits, and has proved already that he can handle a large franchise with Godzilla.

Speaking to Flicks And The City in 2015, Edwards warned fans to “expect the unexpected, because it’s not gonna be like the saga movie.” More recently, however, it was announced that Disney had ordered weeks of reshoots on the film, sparking rumours that Lucasfilm were unhappy with the direction that Edwards had taken the franchise.

ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story Interview – Gareth Edwards

Star Wars Rogue One interview with director Gareth Edwards. Watch more Star Wars Rogue One interviews ► //bit.ly/StarWarsRogueOneInterviews & Star Wars The Force Awakens & Anaheim Celebration interviews ► //bit.ly/StarWarsTheForceAwakensInterviews Subscribe for more!

Will we still see the legendary text crawl opening the movie?

Putting it bluntly, no. The franchise’s producer and head of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, recently explained that because Rogue One is conceived as a World War II-style adventure, the opening crawl would not feel appropriate.

“We felt that’s so indicative of those saga films,” she said. “Initially we probably will begin the film in a way that is traditional, with just the title.”

But fear not: the internet provides. We know that Rogue One concerns the period in which the Empire are building the Death Star under the leadership of Darth Vader, and a small group of rebels are plotting to steal the plans so they can work out how to defeat it. Fans know this too, and one of them handily made this. Enjoy.

Star Wars – Rogue One Opening Crawl (Fan Creation)

Took inspiration from the death star construction reveal scene in the latest Rogue One Trailer, figured it would be the perfect transition for the opening crawl. Reach me on twitter @superdeanio

Does George Lucas like it?

According to Edwards, yes. Talking to CNN, he revealed that working with Lucas was his favourite part of the process, saying “He’s not what you think. I was worried he’d have really strong opinions and tell us off and instead he was just very supportive. I thought that he was just going to hate everything and he was just really nice about it all.”

Have any spoilers been leaked or accidentally revealed?

Yes. A slip of the tongue from Jiang Wen seemed to suggest that his co-star Donnie Yen’s character Chirrut Imwe would not make it through the movie alive. Speaking during a panel interview and referring to Chirrut (about 22:20 in the video), Jiang says “and when this guy [is] dead I do something better!” This is accompanied by looks of horror from co-stars and an abrupt change of subject by Gwendoline Christie. This will likely dismay fans of martial arts legend Yen if the slip proves costly and the rumour is true.

ROGUE ONE Star Wars Celebration Panel 2016 Highlights (Spoilers!)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2016 Celebration panel highlights with the cast Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Gareth Edwards & filmmakers. SPOILER warning between 22:05 and 23:05! Watch more Star Wars Celebration 2016 videos ► //bit.ly/StarWarsCelebration2016Videos Subscribe for more!

Will John Williams score the soundtrack?

For the first time ever the man behind the music in every Star Wars film so far will not be at the helm. Initially, Alexandra Desplat, who worked with Edwards on the soundtrack to Godzilla, picked up the baton. Earlier this year, he expressed his delight at being the only other man to score a Star Wars movie. “To be called to come after John Williams… it’s a great challenge for me,” he enthused. But when a series of re-shoots were ordered by Disney in September 2016, Desplat was no longer available.

Edwards then recruited the services of Michael Giacchino, who had just finished scoring Doctor Strange. He had just four and a half weeks to compose the music for the entire film. “It is a film that is in many ways a really great World War II movie, and I loved that about it,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “But it also has this huge, huge heart at the centre of it, and that was the one thing I just didn’t want to discount. Yes, it’s an action movie, and it’s a Star Wars film, and it has all the things that you would come to expect and love about that, but I didn’t want to forget that it was also an incredibly emotional movie as well. That was what really pulled me in.”

John Williams Conducts The Main Theme From Star Wars

John Williams conducts the Boston Pops playing the main theme from “STAR WARS”. Pump up the volume. Be sure to listen to BIG SCREEN/little screen every Sunday from Noon until 2 p.m. on kpov.org where programs are also archived. Stay tuned…

What comes next?

After Rogue One hits the screens, the wait for Episode VIII will truly intensify, with the ever-anticipated sequel expected on December 15, 2017.

Following that is the second standalone film, this time focusing on the backstory of Han Solo, coming five months later in May 2018. The part of the legendary rebel will be played by Alden Ehrenreich, it was recently announced. Ehrenreich beat the likes of Dave Franco, Logan Lerman, Jack Reynor, Ansel Elgort, Scott Eastwood, Emory Cohen and Blake Jenner to secure the role, and was also reportedly the very first person to audition for the role. His co-star, as Lando Calrissian, will be Atlanta and Community actor Donald Glover.