Shareholder meeting also reveals first Star Wars stand-alone film to be titled Rogue One, starring Felicity Jones.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer

Star Wars: Episode VIII has been given a release date of May 26, 2017 - 40 years and a day after the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977.

Rian Johnson (Looper) has also been confirmed to write and direct the film, which continues the saga after the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, directed by JJ Abrams and set for release this December.

The news was revealed at a shareholder meeting hosted by Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, across the street from Lucasfilm.

It was also announced that the first Star Wars stand-alone, directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla), will be titled Rogue One.

The title likely alludes to the X-Wing fighters flown by the heroes in the franchise and featured in a series of spin-off video games titled Rogue Squadron.

These new films have been described as “a unique series of big-screen adventures that explore the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga”.

Rogue One has been written by Chris Weitz (CinderellaAbout a Boy). The first actress cast is Felicity Jones, who garnered an Oscar nomination for her performance in The Theory of Everything

The idea for the story of originated with John Knoll, an Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor and chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic. He will executive produce along with Simon Emanuel and Jason McGatlin.

Kathleen Kennedy and Tony To are on board to produce and John Swartz will co-produce. The film starts shooting this summer in London and is due for release on December 16, 2016 - bridging the gap between Episodes VII and VIII.