Gareth Edwards, the British director behind the recent Gozilla movie, is to direct the first Star Wars spin-off film.

The unnamed film, confirmed by the Walt Disney Company, will be in addition to the new Star Wars trilogy, the first instalment of which will be directed by JJ Abrams and has begun shooting in the UK and Abu Dhabi.

Writer Gary Whitta, who scripted The Book of Eli, will write the screenplay for the spin-off, which is due for release on Dec 16, 2016 - almost exactly a year after Star Wars: Episode VII (Dec 18, 2015).

In a statement, Edwards said: “Ever since I saw Star Wars I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life - join the Rebel Alliance! I could not be more excited and honoured to go on this mission.”

Edwards first came to attention with his indie film Monsters in 2010. His move into blockbusters with Godzilla has seen the monster movie take more than $216m worldwide after

Edwards’ recent 3D film Godzilla topped the US box office chart and has taken more than $216m (£128m) worldwide after just a week on release.