While it’s been hinted at for some time, we’ve got a moniker and a plan that has coalesced. LucasFilm will be making “Star Wars” Anthology films — stories that take place within the pre-existing galaxy timeline, Episodes I-VI, or possibly earlier — and they’ll be arriving in between the new additions to the main narrative that J.J. Abrams is kicking off with "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
So, following this year’s big return of the franchise, in 2016 we’ll get Gareth Edwards’ “Star Wars: Rogue One," which takes place between ‘Episode III’ and ‘IV’, that follows a group of rebel fighters who attempt to steal the plans for the Death Star. Then, ‘Episode VIII’ in 2017, another spinoff in 2018…you get the idea….
Among the developing rumored spinoff efforts are a young Han Solo film, a Boba Fett flick, and a Yoda movie. Could one of those be Josh Trank’s standalone ‘Star Wars’ film? The director was a no-show at the Star Wars Celebration, and while that fueled silly conspiracy theories that he had been fired, he was actually just stricken by the flu. (And also remember he’s probably still finishing the VFX heavy “Fantastic Four”).
And while this all sounds like great brand building, interestingly enough, in a Hero Complex interview, LucasFilm creative doyenne Kathleen Kennedy admitted she was hesitant to go down the path of the Anthology films. “There’s so much happening in the world of franchises and sequels — really in the last 10 or 15 years that’s dominated what’s come out of the movie industry,” she said. “George [Lucas] was really interested in exploring all the stories that might exist within the Star Wars universe.”
Chief Creative Officer and Visual Effects Supervisor of Industrial Light and Magic, John Knoll, was the person who came up with the pitch for ‘Rogue One,’ but when Kennedy first heard it, she was resistant. “My first thought was, ‘Oh, my God, I’m opening the floodgates if I say yes,’ ” she said. Eventually she came around to the fact that expanded universe ‘Star Wars’ movies “could still remain just as special. ”
"‘Star Wars’ stories are not a dime a dozen,” she added. “This is really hard to do and really hard to get right.”
For his part, ‘Rogue One’ director Gareth Edwards, who helmed the most recent “Godzilla” film, said that when he was approached about this Anthology film he was so burned out from his monster movie he didn’t want to do it. “I was honestly hoping I hated it because I needed a break,” he explained. “I was like, ‘Please be rubbish.’ … But I couldn’t sit in a cinema and know someone else had made this film. If you believe in the Force, it was like everything was destined for this moment.”
In a separate recent interview (which you can watch below) Gareth Edwards said the exciting thing about ‘Rogue One’ is that “it could be its own self-contained story” and didn’t “have to tee-up another film.” And for those of us that like a beginning, middle and end and not six sequels to go along with it, that’s kind of exciting, too (presuming ‘Rogue One’ isn’t a massive hit and LucasFilm decides to somehow make a sequel to it).
“It’s exciting because we’re not held to anything and we can be a bit more free, more brave,” he continued. “And what’s great about everyone at LucasFilm is that they’re encouraging that." Dunno about you guys, but that’s exactly what we want to hear about these Anthology films (though there’s no suspense in inevitability, and some of them, depending if they’re based on known or beloved characters, could end up being “further adventure” stories and not that exciting).
How will it compare to the tone of other ‘Star Wars’ films? “I think it’s going to be quite different and when you go see it you should expect the unexpected,” Edwards said. "Because it’s not going to be like the ‘Saga’ movies." He added that the movie will live in a "morally grey" area between good and bad, it will be about "the nature of war," and he suggests the characters in this story will have a "heavy price to pay" when doing something important for the greater good.
In related ‘Star Wars’ news, George Lucas recently told Stephen Colbert again, in a Tribeca Film Festival talk, that Kennedy and the new ‘Star Wars’ team didn’t use his treatments for Episodes VII through IX. "I hope they do a great job, they’ve taken a different direction," he told the audience about his original vision. "I’m excited, I have no idea what they’re doing."
We have to assume that one day Lucas’ own treatment will be unveiled to the world, no? That would be a fascinating “what if?”. “Star Wars: Rogue One" is due in theaters December 16, 2016. Watch the full interview with Gareth Edwards below.