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The future of Star Wars movies doesn't look very bright

As the “Star Wars” universe continues to expand with a wide variety of TV content, fans are left wondering: What about the movies?

Disney had a lot to celebrate in April 2019, including the launch of its streaming service Disney+ and the latest Star Wars Celebration (which took place in Chicago after recent events in London and Orlando), as a panel of stars prepared audiences for the final movie in the Sky’s second trilogy. Lucas Movie Skywalker Saga. But even with so much to enjoy—and much of it centered around the gem that represents Star Wars—fans didn’t have to look far to realize that the very method that made George Lucas’ invention such a game-changer for Hollywood was in grave danger.

As then-CEO Bob Iger explained, the studio was looking for a little break from “Star Wars” cinema. “We’ll pause, for a while, and reset,” Iger said at the time, “because the Skywalker Saga story ends with this ninth movie.” “There will be other ‘Star Wars’ movies, but there will be a bit of a gap.”

Three years later, Egger’s comments have proven more than proven. Despite the fact that Disney and Lucasfilm have already announced two New movie trios Before Iger even uttered the fearsome h-word — one created by “The Last Jedi” filmmaker Rian Johnson and one led by “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — neither has moved forward since their announcement. Johnson’s planned trilogy is still a possibility, although it has been “burned again” as the busy director works on his “Knives Out” features, While Benioff and Weiss exited their project in October 2019.

And despite Iger’s downward stance on the future of “Star Wars” films, Disney and Lucasfilm continued to announce them after April 2019 — including Patty Jenkins’ “Rogue Squadron” and a film directed by MCU director Taika Waititi and co-written with Academy Award nominee “1917.” Kristi Wilson-Kearns – although not yet as realized projects as Johnson, Benioff and Weiss. Neither of them have been rumored about projects, like a Kevin Feige-produced movie written by “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” screenwriter Michael Waldron or a movie by “Slate” director J.D. Dillard.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Instead, Disney and Lucasfilm are opening up a new frontier for “Star Wars” storytelling, one that doesn’t rely on the power of the big screen: television. While television has long been a part of the “Star Wars” tradition (including the animated series from current “Star Wars” mentor Dave Filoni), the franchise has a host of novels, comic books, and other types of outlets for its sprawling canon (as well as business Written (which has since been deemed non-canonical), the shift from a movie-replay franchise to a TV-based one is new. And yes clear.

In a recent cover story for Vanity Fair – “Star Wars: The Revolution will be televised in a fun and visual way” – various members of the expanding Star Wars TV brain trust are starting to emerge on the “Star Wars” theme. It would look like the universe, with scant detail on the side of the movie.

Look no further than this year’s Star Wars celebration, which is now taking place in Anaheim, California after a one-year delay. Recent festivities have caught the eye on the panels about the new “Star Wars” movies — the big-ticket, often first out of the gate, events are a must-attend. Anaheim actually opened Thursday morning with a screen-centric panel billed as the Lucasfilm Studio Gallery. But the films were in short supply.

The panel has focused on television, with nearly every part devoted to the next set of “Star Wars” adventures, from “Obi-Wan Kenobi” to “Andor” and the upcoming “Skeleton Crew,” all of which are a Disney+ TV series exclusive. The only movie that got a fraction of the time? Harrison Ford movie starring ‘Indiana Jones 5’, itself a Lucasfilm property and featuring ‘Star Wars’ star in its movie else Disney’s big role. Though, surprisingly, Studio Showcase did not provide the first trailer for the movie.

Obi-Wan Kenobi

“Obi-Wan Kenobi”

Disney / screenshot

As Disney+ continues to grow in size on the Star Wars series and Iger’s “pause” continues to expand, the first Star Wars celebration since the pandemic reflects the new reality: “Star Wars” isn’t a movie property anymore, hasn’t been for long, and probably won’t be once again.

Iger’s talk of “downtime” came on the heels of the release of the lowest-grossing film of all time: “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Released in May 2018, the film grossed less than $214 million at the domestic box office, a far cry from the new trilogy (which all grossed over $500 million) and even the series’ other spin-off, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” ($532 million). The relative bombshell of Solo—which also recast fan-favorite stars with younger actors, something the franchise will now eschew—seems to scare Lucasfilm brass more than anything else.

Suddenly, it seemed that just slapping Star Wars on a movie wasn’t guaranteed to succeed, and creating new styles of storytelling seemed more appealing. But while industry-wide concern has led to endless conversations about how live streaming can replace the traditional movie-watching experience, and how episodic adventures are more successful than unique features, other blockbuster franchises have managed to weave movies and TV series together. A way that “Star Wars” has not yet done.

Marvel, after a few rocky attempts to make both the widely successful TV series and theatrical films work for them, has broken a code. The various series that have emerged from Marvel movies, from dearly departed Netflix series like “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” to less successful shows like “Inhumans” on ABC and “Cloak and Dagger” on Freeform, have been thawed into Marvel’s own Disney+. A series, all strictly related to the MCU films.

Yes, the world of blockbuster movies is very different than it was five years ago, but the franchise’s movie success is still possible for older brands like Star Wars. In 2021, four of the highest-grossing films were all Marvel properties, even with a solid TV lineup.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story”

Disney / Lucasfilm

So is ‘Star Wars’ really dead? As of now, Disney and Lucasfilm have announced two release dates for the untitled “Star Wars” films: December 19, 2025 and December 17, 2027. What these films will actually be remains a question, and while SWC has been The perfect time to announce a new feature – a built-in “gap” created by COVID and all – wasn’t what happened.

In a recent Vanity Fair cover story and follow-up Q&A, Kennedy vowed that Lucasfilm already had a “road map” for the future of the film franchise. It will take tremendous patience, and a lot of flexibility. Kennedy said that although it was announced after Jenkins’ “Rogue Squadron,” she expects the secret Waititi and Wilson-Cairns movie to arrive first. (Jenkins’ movie has been “pushed to the side for now,” and Jenkins is “working to ‘develop the script further’.”)

She objected to the Feige and Waldron project (“for now, no, there isn’t anything specific”), and asserted that while Johnson remains “very committed” to what Lucasfilm does, he “literally hasn’t had the time to devote” to his trilogy.

However, Kennedy noted that the Star Wars cast has been pursuing other features and “was in conversation with a couple of other filmmakers who could move into the Star Wars movie space.” So, what are we announcing now? Again, object Kennedy, telling Vanity Fair, “We’ll probably be more specific in a couple of months.”

THE MANDALORIAN, Grogu aka Baby Yoda, (Season 2, premiered October 30, 2020).  Photo: © Disney+ / Lucasfilm / Courtesy Everett Collection

“The Mandalorian”

Everett Group

However, the next two months will be stacked with a new “Star Wars” TV series. Disney and Lucasfilm have turned to those shows — all, of course, released on Disney+, which now have more than 130 million subscribers — to fill their expanding galaxy. But while the franchise’s film arm may be weak, its impact is unmistakable. After all, there is none of this without the movies.

Disney and Lucasfilm’s next series, “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” brings former superstar Ewan McGregor back into the fold for a show much demanded by fans over the years. MacGregor was originally on board to star in the title role, yes, a feature film about the beloved Capricorn, directed by Stephen Daldry. It pivoted into a series, six episodes all directed by Deborah Chow. (And yes, Hayden Christensen is also back for the show; this may all be coming to fans for a new format, but the backbone is decades old.)

Also on Board: Diego Luna starring in ‘Andor’, is itself a precursor to the indie movie ‘Rogue One’. The series, set to premiere later this summer, will focus on longtime favorite Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly, who also played the rebellious hero as a young senator in “Revenge of the Sith” before reprise her role in “Rogue One”). Caroline Blackstone played her role in Return of the Jedi).

Andor

“Andor”

Lucas Film

But the new “Star Wars” TV series isn’t entirely indebted to the 11 live-action movies that came before them. Vanity Fair has also shared details about a pair of new series trying to extract material outside of films, including Lesyle Headland’s “The Acolyte” (set nearly 100 years before “The Phantom Menace” and described as a “mystery thriller”). Set in a prosperous and seemingly serene era, when the galaxy is still soft and sparkling”—the end of an era called the High Republic) and John Watts’ “Skeletal Staff”, a coming-of-age series set during the ‘post-reconstruction’ of Return of the Jedi [and] which came after the fall of the empire.”

This series was created within the framework of the sprawling “Star Wars” lore, but seems designed to offer truly new stories and perspectives. That’s a lesson the movie side of the series can learn sooner rather than later.

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