TOTAL FILM – Despite getting its release date pushed seven months back to December 2017, Star Wars: Episode VIII has kicked off filming only a month later than originally planned. While several key shots were filmed late last year – to link the film to its predecessor The Force Awakens – Rian Johnson’s eagerly-awaited sequel has officially started principal photography today.

The news hails from Disney CEO Bob Iger, who made the announcement to investors during Disney’s quarterly earnings call. “There is no better way to propel this franchise into the future than producing quality products,” he said. “Filming of Star Wars: Episode VIII, the next chapter of the legendary saga, has just commenced and it will be in theaters December 2017. And production of Episode IX, a 2019 release, has also begun.” John Boyega, who returns to play stormtrooper-turned-Resistance fighter Finn, also confirmed the start of filming on Twitter.

As for the Colin Trevorrow-directed Episode IX, Iger’s comments aren’t exactly definitive. Does this mean it’s already entered pre-production? That seems a stretch, given that the movie isn’t due to hit cinemas for another three years. Seeing as Trevorrow is wrapping up work on his next film The Book Of Henry, it’s likely that he’s just diving into the story and concept stage for Episode IX.

Iger then goes on to discuss Gareth Edwards’ anthology tale Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. “Filming is virtually completed and we absolutely love what we’ve seen so far. This is the first of a set of planned stand-alone stories and we’re already in preproduction on our next one, for release in May of 2018.” That “next one” is the young Han Solo movie which has Phil Lord and Chris Miller attached to direct.

Directed by Rian Johnson, and starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Benicio Del Toro, Star Wars: Episode VIII opens on December 15, 2017. The Gareth Edwards-directed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16, 2016. Star Wars: Episode IX opens on May 24, 2019.

Daisy and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ are among the nominees for the 2016 Kids’ Choice Awards, which will be held on March 12 at 8 p.m. Make sure to vote here!

Favorite Movie
Ant-Man
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Cinderella
Daddy’s Home
Jurassic World
Pitch Perfect 2
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2

Favorite Movie Actress
Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect 2
Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2
Scarlett Johansson, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Lily James, Cinderella
Rebel Wilson, Pitch Perfect 2

DEADLINE – In the final feather in the cap of a memorable dealmaking Sundance Film Festival, Sony Pictures Classics acquired North American rights to The Eagle Huntress, in a mid-seven-figure deal that includes select international territories including Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Germany, Scandinavia and Asia. SPC will plot a significant theatrical release for one of the best reviewed docus of 2016 Sundance, and this is just the first step for a film whose themes of female empowerment will allow it to travel far.

I’m told that Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley will narrate the documentary, this coming days after she signed on to be executive producer to use her clout to help boost the film. At the same time, several companies are negotiating for the right to turn the story of 13-year-old Aisholpan Nurgaiv and her eagle into an animated feature, and Ridley will provide the voice for the young heroine. CAA brokered the deal for the docu, and will make the deal for the animated feature.

This caps a storybook festival finish for the first documentary to premiere in the Sundance Kids section when it debuted January 24 at the Prospector Square Park Theatre. What director Otto Bell captured on screen is unprecedented, and the film will be a buzz title come the next awards season. The deal means that SPC’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard walked off the mountain with four films, including the Frank Zappa docu Eat That Question, the Wall Street drama Equity, and the John Krasinski-directed The Hollars.

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DEADLINE – You cannot escape the Star Wars phenomenon, even at an indie film fest just getting underway in Park City. Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley has come aboard to be executive producer of The Eagle Huntress, the first documentary to premiere in the Sundance Kids section, with a Sunday debut at the Prospector Square Park Theatre. Morgan Spurlock, exec producer of the film, divulged this to me and said that Ridley signed on after seeing a cut of the film. She hopes it helps create awareness of what they describe as an epic tale of female empowerment.

Directed by Otto Bell, The Eagle Huntress is the true story of Aisholpan, a 13-year-old Mongolian girl who strives to become the first female Eagle Hunter in 2,000 years of male-dominated history. Under the tutelage and support of her father and her grandfather, she learns all aspects of this ancient tradition, including taming her very own eaglet and training it for the annual Golden Eagle Festival, which involves competing against male Eagle Hunters from all over the country. She even dreams of hunting in the frozen winters to prove that a girl can do anything a boy can, so long as she’s determined.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – Daisy Ridley is sure to get a rousing introduction from her Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams when she’s honored at the 11th annual Oscar Wilde Awards next month.

The British actress, who has Irish ancestry, joins The Late Late Show host James Corden, Penny Dreadful actress Sarah Greene and Northern Ireland rockers Snow Patrol to be saluted Feb. 25 at the awards-season event that takes place at Abrams’ Bad Robot production offices in Santa Monica.

The nonprofit U.S.-Ireland Alliance created the Oscar Wilde bash to recognize the contributions of the Irish (and even some who aren’t Irish) in film and on television.

Abrams, who serves as emcee of the event when he’s not away making movies, shot the final, stunning scene of The Force Awakens on Skellig Michael, the breathtaking island located off the west coast of Ireland. The 23-year-old Ridley, of course, plays the heroine, Rey, in the film.

Ridley is repped by 2009 Oscar Wilde honoree Hylda Queally, the CAA agent who also serves on the advisory board of the U.S.-Ireland Alliance.

We updated the gallery with a missing event of Daisy at the CAA Pre-Golden Globes party in West Hollywood, California on January 8, 2016. Enjoy!

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