“Star Wars” is back in the movie business. After eschewing movies since the launch of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in 2019 and turning most of its attention to various TV series, the beloved franchise seems set to finally get three brand-new feature films.
As part of this year’s Star Wars Celebration in London, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced on Friday morning that a trio of new features are currently in the works. Those films include new joints from James Mangold (who recently worked with the Lucasfilm crew on this year’s “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” out this summer), long-time “Star Wars” TV guru Dave Filoni, and Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s previously announced feature.
And, while details on most of these projects is, as expected, pretty slim, Kennedy did hit fans with some key details, including that Obaid-Chinoy’s film will see the return of Daisy Ridley to the franchise as her iconic character Rey. Disney confirms that Obaid-Chinoy’s film “will tell the story of rebuilding the New Jedi Order and the powers that rise to tear it down.”
While Damon Lindelof was originally set to pen the script for Obaid-Chinoy’s film, he and co-writer Justin Britt-Gibson departed the project earlier this year. “Peaky Blinders” screenwriter Steven Knight quickly joined the project, and will take over scripting duties.
Additionally, THR reports that “Kennedy said the company was working on expanding the mythological timeline created by George Lucas, by pushing forward, backwards, and sideways.” As such, each of the three new films will cover a different timeline, with Obaid-Chinoy’s bringing up the future and Mangold and Filoni’s features tackling other time periods.
Disney confirms that Mangold’s will “take audiences deep into the past, telling the tale of the first Jedi to wield the Force and harness it as a liberating power in an era of chaos and oppression.” Filoni’s will follow “Star Wars” “storytelling in the present,” per the studio, and will see the filmmaker “orchestrate the escalating war between the Imperial Remnant and the fledgling New Republic. Alongside producer Jon Favreau, they will bring together many of the threads of the ‘Star Wars’ original series in a cinematic event.”
As for release dates? Stay tuned, as those details were not offered up at today’s event, along with any additional information on other “Star Wars” movies that have long been rumored, including a new film from Taika Waititi and one from Shawn Levy, both previously announced.
In recent years, the “Star Wars” franchise has turned its attention to its many TV series, despite still announcing scattered plans for films that didn’t prove out. In April 2019, then-Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger explained, the studio was looking for a little break from “Star Wars” cinema. “We will take a pause, some time, and reset, because the Skywalker Saga comes to an end with this ninth movie,” Iger said at the time. “There will be other ‘Star Wars’ movies, but there will be a bit of a hiatus.” (Iger departed the studio in 2021, only to return in 2022.)
That was likely a surprise to some, including filmmakers like “The Last Jedi” helmer Rian Johnson and “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, all of whom had previously been announced as helming brand-new trilogies. As of now, Johnson’s planned trilogy remains a possibility, though it’s been reportedly “back-burned” as the busy filmmaker works on his “Knives Out” features, while Benioff and Weiss exited their project in October 2019.
Patty Jenkins’ long-planned “Rogue Squadron” film was announced, and even given a December 2023 release date, after Iger’s initial remarks, but after years without updates, was pulled from Disney’s schedule late last year.
Last May, Kennedy indicated in a Vanity Fair cover story that the “Star Wars” team has been pursuing other features and has “been in conversation with over quite a long period of time” with a couple of other filmmakers who could move into the “Star Wars” film space. Asked for specifics, Kennedy demurred, telling the outlet, “We’ll probably get a little bit more specific in a couple of months.”
Nearly a year on, the franchise finally seems to have a framework for a movie future, one that hinges on something the series can’t seem to shake: old lore with a new twist.