Although we knew it already, posting on Twitter, Mark Hamill appeared to confirm he will be back as the veteran Jedi knight for Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is being directed by Looper’s Rian Johnson and is due in cinemas for May 2017.
The actor’s comments centred on his beard, which Hamill has revealed he is contractually obliged to sport for Star Wars movies. He suggested he was free to grow it out again after completing work on the superhero TV show The Flash, in which Hamill plays The Trickster
Fans immediately jumped on the post that Skywalker survives the events of The Force Awakens, though others pointed out that the Jedi Knight might easily return as a “Force Ghost”, mirroring Alec Guinness’ appearance as Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back following the character’s death at the hands of Darth Vader in 1977’s Star Wars. Luke’s whereabouts, appearance and Force loyalties in The Force Awakens have been the subject of major speculation, as he has not appeared on screen in any of the advance publicity trailers or posters.
In other news, Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn has done his best to temper expectations for the film smashing the opening weekend record at the US box office, where it opens on 18 December. Abrams’ film is gunning for the mammoth $208.8m taken by Jurassic World in June and many believe it could challenge Avatar for the title of highest-grossing movie of all time.
“There are a number of things that put this film in uncharted territory, literally uncharted territory, making it even more difficult than usual to predict what the opening weekend will be,” Horn told the Hollywood Reporter. “Especially this far out from release with the bulk of our campaign ahead of us.
“It’s natural for people to want to view this and compare this to a summer blockbuster, but films in December don’t have the same historical release patterns as summer films. In December it’s rare to see a big debut – there’s only a handful above $70m, with the record being something like $84m. People are shopping, they’re travelling, they also know that their kids are going to be on vacation in a week and they’re going to all go see movies together.”