'Star Wars: Episode VIII' Director Shares New Set Photo, Teases 'Home Stretch'

Star Wars: Episode VIII is apparently nearing the end of its principal photography, according to director Rian Johnson, who shared a new image from the set online in order to announce the news.

Johnson posted the image to his Tumblr account yesterday, according to Polygon. The photo depicts a hanging Jedi robe against a rocky background, and while it is unclear who exactly the garment belongs to, it does possess a strong resemblance to the robe worn by Luke Skywalker in the final moments of The Force Awakens. While Johnson did not specify the owner of the robe, he did note in his post that the production is in its "home stretch," though he did not give an anticipated date for its conclusion. Cameras have been rolling on the next installment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy since mid-February.

The rocky background suggests that the set is meant to replicate the terrain of Skellig Michael, the Irish island that doubled as Ahch-To (the planet upon which Rey discovered Luke in The Force Awakens). Drone footage taken during the production of Episode VIII has previously revealed similar sets, as the Inquisitr recently noted, suggesting a larger role for the apparently deserted planet in Episode VIII.

The production of Star Wars: Episode VIII has taken place primarily at London's Pinewood Studios, the same location that played host to The Force Awakens. Very little is known about the film, as Collider notes, not only because of the high security surrounding any Star Wars production, but also because Rogue One, the first of a planned anthology series of spin-off movies, hits theaters this December. That film, which has recently been plagued by rumors of production issues in the face of seemingly large-scale reshoots taking place this summer, has displaced Episode VIII in the attention of most fans as more information surrounding it is released ahead of its theatrical debut.

While Rouge One may be the focus of Star Wars fandom's attention, Episode VIII is no less highly anticipated. Very few details of the movie have been released, primarily since Episode VIII is still in an early stage of production, but some unverified rumors have made their way online. Earlier this year, a purported plot outline for Episode VIII was posted to Reddit. Lacking an ending, the outline revealed a major plot twist that drew an almost instant negative response from fans.

While the veracity of the plot summary cannot be ascertained, the event is reminiscent of a similar leak that took place during the production of The Force Awakens, when a nearly complete, 99 percent accurate plot summary for that film was released online (though its accuracy was unclear at the time, and was only verified upon the film's eventual debut).

More recently, rumors surrounding the title of Episode VIII generated headlines when several purported candidates surfaced online. The true title of the film has yet to be verified by either Disney or Lucasfilm, however, with no firm date given for its announcement. Earlier this year, actress Carrie Fisher revealed that the working production title for the film was Space Bear. This moniker is meant to be used only during production, though, much as Blue Harvest once was for Return of the Jedi.

While the principal production of Episode VIII may be ending, fans still have quite the wait ahead of them. Whatever its true title turns out to be, Star Wars: Episode VIII doesn't hit theaters until December 18, 2016.

[Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images]