New Tales of a Galaxy Far, Far Away

“Star Wars is the greatest modern mythology and we feel very lucky to have contributed to it. We can’t wait to continue with this new series of films.” — Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman

Let’s review… We have Star Wars: The Last Jedi (aka Episode VIII) coming out in a few weeks, Solo: A Star Wars Story (anthology film) due next May, the untitled Episode IX scheduled for Dec. 2019, and a third Star Wars anthology film (probably about Obi-Wan Kenobi) expected in 2020. Very cool!

These films will conclude the saga of and surrounding the Skywalker family along with the originally semi-planned trio of standalones to fill in some details about friends and previously-mentioned events. But, then what? Well, fortunately, Disney (who bought LucasFilm and the SW franchise in 2012) is on record as wanting and planning more Star Wars goodness. Back in January 2016, CEO Bob Iger told the BBC,

“There are five Star Wars films — four more with Episode VII: The Force Awakens — that are in varying stages of development and production. There will be more after that, I don’t know how many, I don’t know how often.”

Then, in September 2016 The Wrap reported the following remarks from Iger at an investors’ conference:

“I had a meeting yesterday with Kathy Kennedy and we mapped out — well, we reviewed — the ‘Star Wars’ plans that we have ’til 2020. We have movies in development for ‘Star Wars’ ’til then, and we started talking about what we’re going to do in 2021 and beyond. So, she’s not just making a ‘Star Wars’ movie, she’s making a ‘Star Wars’ universe, of sorts.”

Beyond Rogue One, it wasn’t clear what the anthology films would be about, until the Han Solo prequel story was confirmed. Now, of course, it has filmed, is currently in post-production, and has an official release date. There have long been suggestions and rumors about the standalone(s) to follow — I wrote some possibilities in “Ideas for Star Wars Anthology Series Films” — with focuses on Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Boba Fett being the most popular. Kenobi seems to have risen to the top, since The Hollywood Reporter reported this past August that Oscar-nominated director Stephen Daldry was being courted to take the helm of “a Star Wars standalone movie centering on Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Fett and Yoda fans should not lose hope, though, as THR also said:

“The Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone is one of several projects being developed by Lucasfilm and Disney that fall outside the trilogies telling the saga of the Skywalker family. A Han Solo movie is now in the final stages of shooting under new director Ron Howard and Lucasfilm is also looking at movies featuring Yoda and bounty hunter Boba Fett, among others.”

The latest news, however, has nothing to do with the anthology series. Rather, it seems that Lucasfilm and Disney are so pleased with director Rian Johnson’s work on The Last Jedi that they have handed him the reins to create (in collaboration with producer Ram Bergman) a new Star Wars trilogy with all-new characters and locales “from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.”

“We all loved working with Rian on The Last Jedi. He’s a creative force, and watching him craft The Last Jedi from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career. Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.” — Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm

Sounds quite intriguing to me. Vague, but intriguing. This may be just what the franchise needs to kick-start the post-Skywalker era. But, not everyone is so sure this is a smart move. In fact, Bobby Houston at CBM has a bad feeling about this….

Houston’s primary concern is of oversaturation:

“Star Wars is not an annual franchise. Star Wars is not the MCU. Star Wars is important. Star Wars has cultural heft and meaning. The last thing the series needs is a ‘cinematic universe’ style of approach because as we’ve seen it doesn’t always work out. Perhaps after episode 9 it would be best to let the franchise breathe and rest for a bit.”

Houston isn’t averse to new Star Wars films eventually coming out and recognizes the abundance of material and that a new trilogy “could go in almost any direction”. (He also said it would be “unhindered by the franchise’s canon and extensive lore”, which I disagreed with, since I thought he meant that Disney/Lucasfilm would not care if new films contradicted established canon/lore. But, upon re-reading it several times, I think he was restating that the huge amount of established canon/lore would allow for a plethora of possible plots and settings. This makes more sense in context.) But, he’s afraid that immediately launching into another trilogy so soon after this latest batch of trilogy + anthology films will diminish the franchise’s appeal. As a fan, though, he says,

“I hope I’m wrong, I hope Rian Johnson knocks it out of the park with this new trilogy and that years from now people continue to lose their minds and go crazy for Star Wars because that’s really special.”

He may have a point. So, maybe after the Kenobi anthology film wraps up, there should be a break of at least 5 years before launching the new trilogy, and then maybe go back to 3 years between films? As the old adage goes, “Always leave ’em wanting more.”

P.S. Oh yeah, there’s also that live-action Star Wars TV series to look forward to, which has reportedly been in the works since at least early 2015 (though George Lucas had ideas for one way before that)….

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