The revelations came at today's D23 expo in Anahiem, where the full cast of "Rogue One" was announced.

D23 Expo: First ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ Photo And Cast Revealed

Disney has released the first official photo from Star Wars: Rogue One, along with a host of details regarding the highly-anticipated film, at its massive D23 Expo in Anaheim.

Rogue One, which is being directed by Gareth Edwards, and produced by Kathleen Kennedy, is slated for a 2016 release. Lucasfilm announced today that principal photography on the Star Wars standalone had begun, and released the first image from the set, which featured cast members Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, and Donnie Yen, as Time reports.

Edwards joined the proceedings through a video link from the United Kingdom, where filming on Rogue One began last week, according to Entertainment Weekly, and introduced the cast. In addition to the actors and actresses appearing in the first image, Star Wars: Rogue One is set to feature a stellar cast, which includes Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, and Mads Mikkelsen, as well as Alan Tudyk. Portraying a motion capture character in Rogue One, Tudyk is well known to sci-fi fans from his iconic role in Firefly and Serenity, as the Inquisitr previously reported.

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy expounded on the story behind Rogue One, which will focus on the group of Rebels who are tasked with stealing the plans for the original Death Star. Set before A New Hope, the film will reportedly take on a different feel from the primary Star Wars films, examining the world of a ground war.

Rogue One takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and will be a departure from the saga films but have elements that are familiar to the Star Wars universe. It goes into new territory, exploring the galactic struggle from a ground-war perspective while maintaining that essential Star Wars feel that fans have come to know. Gareth is such an innovative director and I’m so excited to be working with him and the extraordinary ensemble cast he’s selected for Rogue One.”

The concept behind Rogue One was first originated by ILM visual effects supervisor John Knoll, whose history with the Star Wars universe dates back to the mid-1990s. The first of a planned anthology series (which it now appears will be referred to as Star Wars Stories), Star Wars: Rogue One is set to hit theaters on December 16, 2016.

[Image: Lucasfilm via Twitter]

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