Disney currently has three Star Wars release dates secured, beginning in December of 2023, but according to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, the studio is still attempting to "step back" from the franchise to reevaluate what the best strategy is for the series moving forward. The exec also noted that one of the initial goals for the sequel trilogy was to complete George Lucas' vision for telling a nine-party story, but now that the Skywalker Saga has completed, future stories in any medium can begin to expand to explore thousands of years of mythology in this world instead of focusing primarily on what fans will find most familiar.
"It’s an ever-evolving process," Kennedy shared with TheWrap. "You know, when I personally came into this, George had already been having conversations with his previous actors, Carrie (Fisher) and Harrison (Ford) and Mark (Hamill) — there was a saga that the fans loved and he never finished. He always talked about doing nine movies and he was ready to complete that. And so our focus had been from the beginning on finishing that saga."
She added, "And now we’re stepping back. Stories have been told within this universe over the last 40-odd years, and there’s now the realization that this is a mythology that actually spans about 25,000 years, when you really start to look at all the different stories that have been told, whether it’s in books and games."
Despite future movies, TV shows, novels, and comic books journeying to different corners of the galaxy far, far away, she noted that a priority is to honor the storytelling spirit that Lucas himself established with the original trilogy.
"We just need the time to step back and really absorb what George has created, and then start to think about where things might go," the executive pointed out. "That’s what we’ve been doing, and we’ve been having a great deal of fun doing it, and meeting with lots of different filmmakers and talent. There’s so many fans out there and so many filmmakers that have been influenced by Star Wars for so long that it’s a fantastic opportunity to get a sense of who wants to be a part of this. So that’s what we’ve been doing."
Last year saw the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and, while that film earned mixed reviews from fans and critics, the first live-action Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian, has almost unanimously been praised. With more seasons of that series on the way, in addition to a number of other confirmed TV projects, Kennedy noted the importance of that serialized storytelling for the franchise's longevity.
When asked if she felt TV was becoming an integral component of the series, Kennedy confessed, "I do. And I’ve already seen evidence of it. The ability to be very character-driven, with extended storytelling and connected storytelling, I think this space offers us a great opportunity to do that."
The next Star Wars film is set to hit theaters on December 22, 2023 and Season Two of The Mandalorian is expected to debut in October.