Between Thursday’s investor presentation of the imminent streaming service Disney+ and the five-day-long fan event that is Star Wars Celebration, Disney has plenty to celebrate and share this week. One thing the studio won’t be announcing, however: any new “Star Wars” films after the December release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
“We have not announced any specific plans for movies thereafter,” Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger told Bloomberg Television on Thursday. “There are movies in development, but we have not announced them.”
In recent years, Disney has announced two new film trilogies for the blockbuster franchise — including one created by “The Last Jedi” filmmaker Rian Johnson and another one helmed by “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — but details have remained slim on what big series will come after “Episode IX.” Earlier this month, Johnson told press at CinemaCon that he was eager to get to work on his trilogy after debuting his “Knives Out” later this year, while Benioff and Weiss will see the end of their beloved HBO series in the coming weeks.
Still, after the mixed reaction to the long-anticipated Han Solo prequel (it is the series’ lowest-grossing film to date), interest in such spinoffs has appeared to cool. (Remember all those rumors about Boba Fett films, Yoda prequels, even a Kenobi spinoff? They’ve been fallow for months.)
Even with a pair of trilogies to make, Iger said that Disney and Lucasfilm plan to put a “pause” on franchise films after Abrams’ latest hits theaters (and, as Disney must certainly be hoping, makes a lot of money while doing it). “We will take a pause, some time, and reset, because the Skywalker Saga comes to an end with this ninth movie,” Iger said. “There will be other ‘Star Wars’ movies, but there will be a bit of a hiatus.”
At Friday morning’s “Episode IX” panel, the emphasis stayed firmly on the forthcoming December release, and both Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams didn’t mention a word about what’s next for the franchise. Armed with ending the beloved Skywalker Saga, they steered the conversation to the importance of this particular film.
“The thing I think about all the time is the responsibility we have, and we have it with all of you, and it’s something we talk about every minute that we’re involved making these movies, and this one in particular,” Kennedy said. She promised the thousands of fans in the Wintrust Arena that they would be “so happy with” what they were going to see of the final Skywalker Saga film.
While previous Celebrations have included “Future Filmmakers” panels that focus on directors making their Star Wars debut in upcoming films, there’s no such panel as this year’s event. Instead, the attention is entirely on “Episode IX” and assurances that it will serve as a capper on a franchise that first captured fans 40 years ago and is still attempting to move into the future.
“To keep this relevant and meaningful to the characters, and to the people experiencing this story, it has to feel like it’s of its time,” Kennedy said. “I think what we’ve done is, we’ve taken to heart everything that inspired George [Lucas], and I think the inspiration J.J. has brought to this has given it even more depth.”
“In addition to being the end of three trilogies of movies, it has to work on its own as a movie,” Abrams added. For now, it’s the only one in the game.
Disney will release “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in theaters nationwide December 20.