With more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office, there’s no debate that Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a massive success. Yet as the first trilogy-capper in the nine-film Star Wars saga to earn less than its direct predecessor and with the fan base divided on Disney’s sequel trilogy overall, it’s difficult not to feel uncertain about the future of the brand.
Disney’s next earnings call is scheduled for February 4 and we expect CEO Bob Iger and the executive team to address their plans for the cinematic future. But until then, we have a handful of of our own predictions and expectations for Star Wars and Lucasfilm.
Hierarchical Shakeups at the Studio Level
Under president Kathleen Kennedy, four of Lucasfilm’s five Disney-era Star Wars films have surpassed the $1 billion mark at the global box office. Every single other rival studio would happily turn to the Dark Side for commercial consistency such as that. These films are massively profitable and the studio president plays a direct role in that success. But Kennedy’s contract expires in 2021, leaving the door open for change regardless of whether or not she wants to re-up with the studio.
A recent report from THR noted that Jon Favreau will likely be given an increased role in the creative direction of the Star Wars brand thanks to the success of Disney+’s The Mandalorian and Favreau’s existing relationship with Disney. Alongside him, Dave Filoni—who created animated hits The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels and also serves as a producer/director on The Mandalorian—is expected to play a role in the creative future of Star Wars. However, neither have much experience at the studio executive level. Perhaps that is why Rise of Skywalker producer and Lucasfilm Senior VP of live-action development and production Michelle Rejwan is also mentioned as a candidate for an increased role in the future.
Lucasfilm has be criticized for being too reactive to the online conversation surrounding their films. Fair or not, a studio shakeup of sorts may be the result.
Kevin Feige Produces More Than One Star Wars Movie
In September, it was reported that Marvel Cinematic Universe mastermind Kevin Feige was developing a Star Wars movie for Lucasfilm. Though details about the project remain as scarce as kyber crystals, the news has excited the fanbase.
Feige built the single-most consistently successful creation in Hollywood history in the MCU. He is considered Disney’s golden boy and his world-building sensibilities are a perfect match for the galaxy-spanning lore of Star Wars. Assuming his eventual film is a success, we doubt he’d be one-and-done with the Force. Though he is a popular name mentioned when discussing the potential executive future of Lucasfilm, we don’t think it’s possible to effectively handle both the MCU and Lucasfilm at once. But given his track record, it would come as no surprise if he served as something of an über-producer for the studio now and then.
Star Wars Moves Away From Trilogies
Kennedy has already mentioned that Lucasfilm plans to move away from the traditional trilogy format.
“I think it gives us a more open-ended view of storytelling and doesn’t lock us into this three-act structure,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re not going to have some finite number and fit it into a box. We’re really going to let the story dictate that.”
One potential alternative is a series of inter-connected standalone films. These would function as tales unrelated to the Skywalker Saga, similar to the initial hope for the anthology Star Wars Story films such as Rogue One and Solo, yet still possessing blockbuster crossover potential. The benefit of Disney+ expanding the cinematic universe is the ability to create cross-pollinating content that ping pongs storylines and characters back and forth.
In May 2019, BuzzFeed News reported that Laeta Kalogridis (Avatar, Shutter Island) had been tapped to write a movie based on the beloved 2003 video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, though that remains unconfirmed. Since then, rumors have swirled that Lucasfilm is planning multiple projects that take place in this era—roughly 4,000 years—but are not direct adaptations of the video game. Earlier this month, Making Star Wars reported that Lucasfilm is planning a multimedia event that will span films, games, comics, and books as the foundation of its future Star Wars plans, though this remains unconfirmed. These stories will reportedly take place in the era of the High Republic, roughly 400 years before the Skywalker Saga. Last week, THR reported that Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit), who directed the season finale of The Mandalorian and voiced IG-11, has been approached to direct a Star Wars movie.
Whichever direction Lucasfilm ultimately chooses, we can safely expect the structure to differ from the traditional trilogies.
Rian Johnson’s Trilogy is Cancelled
In August, The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson told Observer that he was still working on his planned Star Wars trilogy for Lucasfilm. However, there have been no substantive updates on the project since then and Johnson has also revealed that he’s busy working on a Knives Out sequel. While it’s always possible that Lucasfilm slots his project into the 2022 Star Wars release date it has reserved, we wouldn’t be surprised if the studio scrapped that release date and shelved Johnson’s series altogether.
That would be a shame. Regardless of your opinion on The Last Jedi, Johnson has emerged as one of Hollywood’s most exciting talents. His resume is dotted with unique genre blends (Brick), heady blockbuster fare (Looper) and supremely clever writing (Knives Out). His originality would lend itself nicely to a new Star Wars adventure. But the lack of progress on his planned trilogy, originally announced in late 2017, is concerning.
Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi Series Is Delayed
Rumors have been gaining steam since last week that Ewan McGregor’s planned Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ series has been cancelled. This came as a shock to Film Twitter as McGregor’s portrayal of the Jedi master is largely considered a highlight of the polarizing prequels. Add in the years-long rumors (and the resulting enthusiastic audience response) regarding McGregor’s potential return to the role and Kenobi is easily among the most-anticipated Star Wars projects on the docket.
Lucasfilm has not even remotely hinted that such a development is on the horizon and TheWrap reports that it has not been cancelled. But whispers continue to suggest that the planned summer start date will not be met due to unforeseen production issues. As such, a delay could be forthcoming though we hope it isn’t indefinite.
In addition to Kenobi, Disney+ will see a seventh season of Filoni’s The Clone Wars premiere in February and a second season of The Mandalorian debut later this year. A new series following Diego Luna’s Rogue One character Cassian Andor is also in development.