With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker released in theaters it seems worth asking: What is the next Star Wars movie? Disney has announced huge plans for Star Wars shows on their Disney+ platform, where The Mandalorian is already earning rave reviews. Meanwhile the company is promoting their new Star Wars theme park, Galaxy’s Edge, heavily. Yet you may not know what’s next for their Star Wars movie plans. What come after The Rise of Skywalker?
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
With movies, live-action TV series, animated movies, animated TV series jumping across Galactic years and spanning decades of content, the Star Wars universe has gotten really big. It might be hard to keep track of where the next Star Wars movie will fit in. So, Lucasfilm has started handing out this useful timeline, to make sense of it all…
WHO’S FLYING THIS SHIP?
Currently Kathleen Kennedy is in charge of LucasFilm, the Disney division running Star Wars. Recently there has been some speculation as to Kennedy’s future with LucasFilm and whether she’ll be around for the next Star Wars movie. Kennedy herself has said she has no plan to leave the company any time soon, however she may have no choice.
Recent reports suggest that Kennedy is being forced into “early retirement” by Disney. She’s actually under contract until 2021, but Disney could always pay out her contract and simply give her work to someone else.
The same reports which say Kennedy is about to take an early retirement suggest it was the trouble with the Obi-Wan Disney Plus series that was the final straw. Production on the show was put on “indefinite hiatus” after Kennedy in mid-pre-production suddenly rejected all the scripts they’d written and sent them back to the drawing board. As a result, scoopers claim Disney believes it’s time for a change in leadership with Star Wars.
Kennedy’s ouster isn’t confirmed yet though, so we’ll update this space when it is… or is not.
If Kathleen Kennedy is out, they may replace her by borrowing talent from the Marvel side of their company. According to various sources, Marvel head Kevin Feige is considering leaving Marvel to move over and work at LucasFilm full time.
Even if Feige doesn’t move over to LucasFilm full time, it’s already been announced that he’ll at least work on one Star Wars movie.
Rumors of his taking over LucasFilm aside, we know for certain that Kevin Feige is at least making one Star Wars movie. Disney announced that the super producer and president of Marvel Studios, is developing his own Star Wars film. Also noted is that Feige told “a major actor” there is a specific part in this new film for them to play.
Alan Horn, Walt Disney Studios chairman and chief creative officer confirmed Feige’s involvement in Star Wars. He told The Hollywood Reporter, “We are excited about the projects Kathy and the Lucasfilm team are working on, not only in terms of Star Wars but also Indiana Jones and reaching into other parts of the company including Children of Blood and Bone with Emma Watts and Fox. With the close of the Skywalker Saga, Kathy is pursuing a new era in Star Wars storytelling, and knowing what a die-hard fan Kevin is, it made sense for these two extraordinary producers to work on a Star Wars film together.”
In addition to the Star Wars movie he’s supposed to be making, Kevin Feige’s Marvel may be involved in Star Wars on Disney+ as well. In 2015, Marvel Comics introduced a character called Doctor Aphra to the Star Wars universe. For those who don’t follow the Star Wars comics, the good Doc is a criminal archaeologist with questionable morals who just so happens to work for Darth Vader. Rumor has it not only will she make an appearance on Disney+ but that the series is already being filmed.
Feige being announced as involved with Star Wars doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen. The franchise has a history of stops and starts. Ron Howard famously took over for directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller on Solo. Then Colin Trevorrow was dropped as the director of Rise of Skywalker to be replaced by JJ Abrams. So while it seems Feige has locked in to helm a Star Wars movie right now, always in motion is the future.
Taika Waititi was the director of Thor: Ragnarok which was probably the most Star Wars-like of all the Avengers movies. More recently he directed the Oscar nominated movie Jo Jo Rabbit. He’s also already been involved in Star Wars, directing an episode of The Mandalorian as well as voicing the droid IG-11. So it makes sense that Disney is in talks with him to have him develop the next Star Wars movie.
The question really is does Taika want to direct a Star Wars movie? He had these blunt thoughts about it: “I think people see me hanging out with people, especially with Star Wars, and think I’m having some big discussions about it. I would fucking love to… If it was right. I would want to do any kind of movie if it made sense, and if it felt not like career suicide.“
It sounds Taika Waititi loves Star Wars but hasn’t loved the recent track record of movies and what has happened to the people who’ve made them. At least he’s being honest.
The news of his possible involvement in the next Star Wars movie comes from The Hollywood Reporter where they say this could be the movie already being worked on by Marvel’s Kevin Feige, or it could be something entirely different. Given his work on Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok Taika and Feige are probably used to working together, so it might make sense for Feige to want him involved in his project. On the other hand, Taika is an up and coming, much sought after director/writer. If he gets involved in Star Wars he’s probably going to want to come up with his own ideas and do it his own way.
The Last Jedi Returns
One of the earliest pieces of news to come out of the Star Wars camp and its future is that Rian Johnson, he of the extremely divisive The Last Jedi, was given reigns for a trilogy of his own. And while this rumor was gaining ground, the director himself came out to temporarily halt its spread as he told Variety, “Every single day there’s a new thing. Until it’s up on StarWars.com, don’t believe it.” To date, nothing has been posted on Starwars.com.
Star Wars Game Of Thrones
What does The Game Of Thrones have to do with Star Wars? GOT creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had been linked to a Star Wars trilogy of their own. HAD been. Kennedy even suggested that the pair would be collaborating with Johnson and the trio would plot out a ten-year course for Star Wars. That has since changed.
The Game of Thrones duo’s trilogy has been canceled for what was labeled a busy schedule for the pair as they have a new deal with Netflix. More details have been unearthed and these fall along the creative differences line. Apparently Benioff and Weiss wanted to explore the Jedi and their origins, while that was a direction Lucasfilm didn’t wish to go.
Rumors have started swirling that Star Wars creator George Lucas is particularly unhappy with the direction Disney has taken Star Wars in. Leakers claim he thinks they’ve made a “complete mess” of things. He’s so unhappy that apparently he’s even willing to return to the franchise he created. It wasn’t just the polarizing response Rise of Skywalker received that got him thinking this way, apparently he expressed dissatisfaction months before the film’s release.
It seems unlikely Disney would want George Lucas at this point, and even if they did, those same rumors say he’s only willing to come back if they gave him full control. Disney will almost certainly never give that up. However, Lucas believes that level of control is what he’d need to get things back on track for the next Star Wars movies. That would mean firing current Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, the person he picked to run Star Wars in his absence, in the first place.
If Lucas were to get control, those same sources say he’d want to bring Dave Filoni along with him to run things. Filoni got his start working on Star Wars projects with Lucasfilm animation and he’s currently one of the brilliant minds behind the brightest spot in the Star Wars universe: The Mandalorian. It seems Lucas thinks The Mandalorian is the best thing Star Wars has going, too.
IS THE SKYWALKER SAGA IS FINISHED?
Nine movies and 42 years been dedicated to the Skywalker Saga. With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker the Skywalkers time in Star Wars should be over. But it might not be totally done yet. Word is that Rise of Skywalker director JJ Abrams is currently in negotiations with Disney to release a Director’s Cut version of his movie.
Ironically, the news of a possible Rise of Skywalker Directors Cut release coincides with the trending #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag. That hashtag is being pushed by people who want a Director’s cut version of the Zack Snyder directed movie Justice League. Warner Brothers, the company that owns Justice League, has largely ignored this fan campaign. Meanwhile there is no #ReleaseTheAbramsCut hashtag trending, yet Disney may actually be considering making the Abrams cut a reality.
If released the Director’s Cut likely won’t be in theaters. It’ll be a Blu-ray release. Fans out there tirelessly pushing the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag can at least hope that if this gets done, it’ll add more pressure for Warner Bros to do the same. But considering that Rise of Skywalker made over a billion dollars at the box office and Justice League made only around $650 million… probably not.
Outside of releasing a Director’s Cut of pre-existing movies though, don’t expect to see anything else about Anakin, Luke, or any of the other through-lines which have propelled the two trilogies, as part of the next Star Wars movies. The Skywalker saga really is done.
John Boyega Moving On
Now that the Skywalker Saga is over, the cast is moving on to other projects. For instance, actor John Boyega’s follow-up seems to be inserting himself into the movie Cats…
Maybe Boyega should be doing comedy? Here’s hoping the rest of the cast can do as well, in whatever they choose to do next.
Director J.J. Abrams kicked off the most recent trilogy with The Force Awakens and finished it with The Rise of Skywalker. He won’t be involved in Star Wars going forward.
While many people loved Abrams’ films, a lot of people hated them. When asked what his goal was he answered, “…do the best you can with everything you have.”
Abrams addressed the backlash against his take on Star Wars this way: “The truth is that these are things that are meant to entertain people, to make them feel something and hopefully make them feel good. Obviously, it doesn’t always work. It’s hard when it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t, you have to understand it, you have to acknowledge it, you have to examine it.”
How does Abrams feel about the people who hated what he did? He says, “I’d say that they’re right… The people who love it more than anything are also right. I was asked… ‘How did you go about pleasing everyone?’ I was like, what? Not to say that should be what anyone tries to do anyway, but how would one even go about it? Especially with Star Wars. I don’t need to tell anyone here, we live in a moment where everything immediately seems to default to outrage. And there’s a kind of M.O. of it’s either exactly as I see it or you’re my enemy… It’s a crazy moment, so we knew starting this any decision we made, a design decision, a musical decision, a narrative decision would please someone and infuriate someone else. And they’re all right.”
Skywalker Box Office
The final Skywalker Saga movie has pulled in huge numbers on its way out the door. On Christmas Day Rise of Skywalker was number one at the box office, bringing in $32 million on December 25th alone. The second place finisher, Jumanji: The Next Level wasn’t even close, managing only $12 million on the holiday.
Though that’s a good performance by Rise of Skywalker, it’s worth noting that holiday total is well behind Force Awakens‘ $49.3 million earned on Christmas Day 2015. Force Awakens holds the record for best Christmas box office of all time, and now Rise of Skywalker is the runner-up for that title.
So while Rise of Skywalker’s box office wasn’t record breaking, it’s really good and that’s probably enough to guarantee Disney will at some point make more Star Wars movies, even if they don’t involve the Rise of Skywalker storylines.
It’s also perhaps worth noting that Rise of Skywalker didn’t do well with critics. In fact, it’s the worst reviewed Star Wars movie of all time. As of this moment Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker holds a 52% rating on the review aggregating site Rotten Tomatoes. That’s now lower than even Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace which holds a 53% rating.
So while Rise of Skywalker made enough money to make Disney want to create more Star Wars movies in general, it’s reception was mixed. That mixed reception probably means that when Disney does make the next Star Wars movie they’ll probably want to go in a completely different direction.
THE STAR WARS GALAXY AFTER RISE OF SKYWALKER
The Jon Favreau led hit The Mandalorian has brought wayward fans back into the Star Wars fold. Its crisp writing, sharp directing and Baby Yoda have fans talking about and anticipating each episode in a way they haven’t always talked about the new movies.
Along with announcing a second season to The Mandalorian, Disney+ has also announced a new series based on a character from Rogue One, Cassian Andor. Diego Luna is set to reprise his role as the title character with Alan Tudyk (Dodgeball, Rogue One) returning as the voice of K-2SO.
Also headed to your television is the Ewan McGregor-led Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
This is all small. Let’s talk bigger picture.
COMBATTING STAR WARS OVERLOAD
Figuring out where the Star Wars movies go next won’t be easy. The recent rocky path to Rise of Skywalker may have already set things in motion or to be more specific, slowed the course of action down. So, Disney has told the world that Star Wars will slow down. Call it Star Wars overload.
Disney boss Bob Iger recently re-confirmed the company’s intention of shutting down Star Wars movies for awhile. During the head honcho’s quarterly earnings call with investors he was asked about the next Star Wars movie Iger had this to say: “The priority in the next few years is television.” He then went on to reiterate that Star Wars movies are on hiatus.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t working on some ideas and planning for a time a few years from now when they will make another Star Wars movie, but fans should know that it’s probably a long way off before any of the ideas we’ll tell you about here come to fruition. Iger’s prediction of a “few years” means even 2022 may be too soon to expect anything new from Star Wars in theaters.
Since Disney released Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, there has been one release per year. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016, Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017, Solo: A Star Wars Story in 2018, and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker this year. That’s a lot of Star Wars. So, don’t blame Disney for telling fans that the next Star Wars movie won’t see the big screen for a few years.
Kathleen Kennedy, president of LucasFilm and leader of the Star Wars franchise, has offered a few tidbits on life after the Skywalkers. “What we’ve been focused on the last five or six years is finishing the family saga around the Skywalkers,” she told the LA Times. “Now is the time to start thinking about how to segue into something new and different.”
But what exactly is “different”? For starters, Disney may kick aside the “trilogy” aspect of future Star Wars movies. “I think it gives us a more open-ended view of storytelling and doesn’t lock us into this three-act structure,” Kennedy said. “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.”
Disney has already announced release dates for its next iteration of Star Wars, but that announcement was made a few months before Bob Iger’s prediction that it’ll be a “few years”. Whether they’ll stick to those dates remains to be seen. But for now Disney has announced three release dates for the next Star Wars movies: December 20, 2022, December 18, 2024, and December 18, 2026.
Adam Driver On Returning To Star Wars
It’s always possible different might mean we’ll get a spinoff with one of the existing movie’s characters, even if we’re done with the trilogy structure. Or maybe some of those characters will just get a cameo.
They may have a tough time getting Adam Driver back to play Kylo Ren though. When asked about whether he’d return to Star Wars he had this to say, “This is not at all on the agenda. This experience will forever remain one of the highlights of my career, but I aspire to other adventures.”
It’s likely that Adam Driver’s return to Saturday Night Live, to reprise his role of Kylo Ren in a new Undercover Boss sketch, may be the last time we’ll ever see him play the character. Here’s the sketch, his second time doing Kylo in Undercover Boss on SNL…
In fact, Driver sounds done being associated with Star Wars at all. He continued, “By 2020, I want to disappear. I want to be forgotten so that I can be offered other very different projects. I will try to be as discreet as possible during the Holiday Season because I hate drawing attention to myself. It may seem surprising to an actor, but I like to be incognito. One thing is certain: I will avoid the cinemas and especially the places where we project a ‘Star Wars'”
PLANNING THE NEXT STAR WARS MOVIE
There will be a Star Wars future after Rise of Skywalker. The identity of the next Star Wars movie, though, has yet to be confirmed. Right now it seems as though even Disney doesn’t have a clear plan.
Kathleen Kennedy explains: “We’re literally making this up from whole cloth and bringing in filmmakers to find what these stories might be. It can take a while before you find what direction you might want to go. We need the time to do that.”
They’ll have all the time they need. Kennedy started making key decisions on the direction of the Star Wars franchise shortly after Rise of Skywalker’s release.
Poe Dameron’s Solo Movie
Oscar Isaac was one of the standouts from the new Star Wars trilogy as ace pilot Poe Dameron. In fact one of the most frequent complaints fans had about the new movies was the lack of time spent developing Poe, since he seemed like a great character. Apparently Disney has listened, because now they are working on a Poe Dameron solo project.
Originally it was rumored that they were planning to give Poe Dameron his own Disney Plus series, but now word is that Disney is developing a full on Poe Dameron movie. The film would be a prequel exploring both the origins of Dameron and the origin of the Resistance as a whole. That would address another one of those fan complaints… that the politics of the Resistance vs. the First Order never did get really fleshed out in the new trilogy. Lucasfilm may use this film to do just that.
The Poe Dameron movie is still in very early development and anything can happen at this stage. But if they continue to move forward with it, expect to see Oscar Isaac back in the cockpit as Poe Dameron, within a few years.
Star Wars: The High Republic
Planning for the next Star Wars movie is in very early stages, but we may know what time period one of the films will be set in. According to the outlet Making Star Wars, the next Star Wars movie will be set 400 years before the beginning of the Skywalker saga, hundreds of years before even the prequels.
This is the time period of the Galactic Republic at its peak, before it became the Old Republic and was something more akin to the High Republic. The only Star Wars character we’ve seen on screen who would be around during this time is Yoda, and back then he would have been a middle-aged (remember Yoda is 900 years old in Return of the Jedi) Jedi Knight.
It was also during this period that a legendary dark Jedi named Darth Bane began reorganizing the Sith order and instituted the Sith rule of two… dark master and dark apprentice leading the way into the dark side of the Force.
According to various (as of yet unconfirmed) sources at least one of these Star Wars: The High Republic movies will center around a young Yoda trying to fight off the aforementioned Darth Bane. Bane will of course be the big bad of the movies. Can an all CGI character like Yoda carry an entire movie?
The same rumor which pinpoints this time period for the next Star Wars also says that Disney won’t do another trilogy. Instead, they’re planning a collection of different movies set during the High Republic era.
Who might star in it? What will these next Star Wars movies focus on? We don’t know yet, but a lot of fans are lobbying to get Keanu Reeves involved. One creative YouTuber even made a fan trailer showing off Keanu Reeves as a Jedi fighting in the world of the Old Republic video games. Watch…
Make it happen Disney!
Knights Of The Old Republic
In addition to the High Republic movies Disney is planning, various sources also have them working on Star Wars projects based around the legendary Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic video games. While basing a Star Wars movie around a video game might seem crazy to anyone who hasn’t played it, Knights of the Old Republic is not just regarded as the best Star Wars game ever produced, but also one of the best Star Wars stories ever told.
Knights of the Old Republic is filled with plenty of great material for a movie or a television show. So Disney may be planning both. FandomWire claims they are working on a Knights of the Old Republic movie and a Knights TV series. Presumably the two would connect to each other, as a way to get people in theaters and subscribing to Disney Plus.
Knights of the Old Republic was set thousands of years before Star Wars: A New Hope and follows a Jedi character on a journey to choose between the light and dark sides of the Force.
Darth Vader Returns
One of the things Disney may be considering for the next Star Wars movie is bringing back Darth Vader. Vader’s brief appearance in Rogue One: A Star Wars story was extremely well received and rumor has it that it has them thinking about including him more.
It’s unlikely that we’d get any upcoming Star Wars movie focused on Vader, more likely just scenes similar to the one we got in Rogue One. Be ready for more Vader cameos, or Vader pop-ins as the next Star Wars movies unspool on screens.
Han And Lando Return
At one point Lucasfilm has big plans for Han Solo. They’d anticipated Solo: A Star Wars Story being a big hit, and had hoped to make a lot of movies about Han, Chewie, and Lando traipsing around the Galaxy. But Solo underperformed and they’re back to the drawing board.
Now word is that if they bring back Han, they may just recast both Han and Lando. Donald Glover played Lando in Solo: A Star Wars story and word is that Glover isn’t sure he wants to play the character anymore. So Disney is lining up a replacement just in case.
Reportedly Disney is considering Michael B. Jordan to take over the Lando role, in future Star Wars installments.
As for Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich played young Han in Solo: A Star Wars story, but going forward if they want to use Han again word is that Disney wants hire someone else to play him. Apparently Lucasfilm does have some plans to put Han in future movies but some execs at the studio don’t like what Ehrenreich did with the character.
It’s an odd reaction. Most fans were pleasantly surprised with Ehrenreich’s portrayal. The issues people had with the film mostly revolved around the script, which was kind of a mess, and the production, which was plagued with problems from the beginning. Blaming Ehrenreich for Solo: A Star Wars Story’s failure seems misplaced.
DIVERSITY CHANGING STAR WARS
Apparently one of the big focuses for the Star Wars universe in the past is ensuring they represent diversity. When asked about how that was approached in the previous trilogy director J.J. Abrams had this to say…
“[We] thought about building this story with the female protagonist, a set of four main characters: One of whom was Latinx, one of whom was a Nigerian Londoner, one of whom was a woman — a white woman — and one of whom was a white guy. How can we find a way to have every kid who’s going to go see that movie see a version of themselves, in a way that isn’t often considered at scale? If we have this moment, this privilege, what do we want to do with it? And not from a place of being preachy or feeding people spinach, just from a place of — any time you have a privilege, you have an obligation, period. That’s just how we try to live our lives.”– -JJ Abrams on diversity in The Last Skywalker
Even though Abrams won’t be involved in Star Wars going forward, it’s likely that approach to diversity will continue in the franchise. That will be true at least, in part, because even if he’s not around Star Wars anymore a lot of the people he hired will be. He explains…
“It makes me emotional, actually, to be in meetings and to look around and see people who are never on a usual suspects list, they are never normally people you would think would normally have this job. But they were the best people, and they were there because we made sure they had a shot… I can’t tell you how much it’s benefited our business.”– -JJ Abrams on Star Wars diversity
Star Wars That Almost Happened
Before selling Star Wars to Disney, creator George Lucas was working on several different Star Wars TV shows. One of them was focused on the Jedi and the other was called Star Wars: Underworld. Neither project ever made it to TV screens but the second one, Star Wars: Underworld did make it far enough along to film some actual footage.
Now for the first time ever, that footage is available to watch. Here’s the first anyone has ever seen of Star Wars: Underworld…
The show was supposed to take place in the deep, seedy underworld of the massive capital city planet Coruscant. The footage reflects that dark, dirty, criminal underbelly pretty well. Obviously there’s not much plot here, this was just a test of how they wanted the show to look, and as looks good it seems pretty good. A far cry from Lucas’s overly shiny setting for both of the three prequel movies.
Star Wars: Underworld made it far enough along that they’d produced as many as fifty scripts for the show. Presumably those scripts are now in Disney’s hands and with the franchise set for big changes in the future, it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone there wasn’t considering resurrecting those ideas, in one form or another.