As production gets underway on Star Wars Episode VIII, the script may be getting some last-minute revisions.
Rewrites are standard operating procedure in Hollywood, of course, and more often than not movies are being rewritten as they're actually filming (not a great idea, but they do it anyway). In the case of Episode VIII, they're not so far into shooting that we're talking about drastic action. But it does appear that whatever revisions are happening seem to be based more on the audience response to Star Wars: The Force Awakens than any inherent script problems.
So, what's the deal? Well, according to Jeff Sneider on the Meet the Movie Press Podcast (via Cinemablend), the script by Rian Johnson (who is also directing Episode VIII) is being revised to reduce the roles of two new female characters. It seems that with Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) making such a strong impression on fans in The Force Awakens, a decision has been made to focus more on them and less on introducing more new cast members:
"I said before there were two young female roles, now I actually heard that the rewrite will make these roles smaller. They want to get to know better the characters they already have. So the new rewrite is shrinking the new roles in order to spend more time with Rey, Poe and so on."
Since we don't know who these characters are or what their original importance to the story was, we have no idea about how reducing their screen time will impact the story in Episode VIII. But it seems like a reasonable enough idea to spend more of that time with the characters you've just introduced and get to know them better, while also servicing the classic cast members who are also returning.
Speaking of rewrites, a report over at Birth.Movies.Death indicates that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has also gone through the same process -- but possibly on a larger scale. The original script was penned by Gary Whitta (Book of Eli), then Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass) took a pass at it. But even after that Lucasfilm wasn't quite satisfied with it, so they handed it over to Christopher McQuarrie, writer/director of the last two Mission: Impossible films and a noted "script doctor" in the business (he did a lot of work on World War Z, for instance).
From what BMD's sources say, McQuarrie -- whose name most likely won't show up in the credits -- "saved" the movie. Prequels, which is what Rogue One is, are inherently tough to make interesting since you already know where the story is headed. Hopefully this one will have the same charm and great characters we've gotten from the Star Wars saga in the past, along with at least a couple of surprises.
Star Wars Episode VIII is out May 26, 2017, while Rogue One arrives Dec. 16 of this year.