The future of the Star Wars franchise has undergone a lot of changes in the past year, with the prevailing mandate from Lucasfilm being the focus on quality of quantity. Before Star Wars: The Last Jedi landed in theaters, the studio confirmed that their partnership with writer/director Rian Johnson was so positive that he would be developing his own trilogy of films. After that film landed in theaters, the studio confirmed that Game of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would also be developing a series of films. Given that three films have been given release dates and with Lucasfilm being coy about what details they release to the public, we can't help but wonder if, rather than develop six films at once, Johnson, Benioff, and Weiss will collaborate on one trilogy which will kick off in 2022.
When Lucasfilm announced Johnson's new trilogy in November of 2017, they noted, "Johnson will create a brand-new Star Wars trilogy, the first of which he is also set to write and direct, with longtime collaborator Ram Bergman onboard to produce." This leaves two more films which Johnson would potentially develop narratives for, but wouldn't necessarily write or direct.
In February of 2018, Lucasfilm revealed that Benioff and Weiss "will write and produce a new series" without specifying how many films this new narrative would consist of. With the duo having only shorts and three episodes of the HBO series to their names as directors, it would be a major jump to make their feature film debut with a Star Wars film. This could set the stage for Johnson to write and direct the first installment, which will be produced by Benioff and Weiss, with the three collaborating on how the next two films could come together.
During a conference call with investors this week, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that the Star Wars film that will land in theaters in December of 2022 would be coming from Benioff and Weiss, which marks the first official comment on which narrative would be moving forward since the two trilogies were announced more than a year ago. The lack of official comment from Disney or Lucasfilm has led to endless speculation about what the future really holds for the franchise.
A rumor that has emerged, only to be debunked, then to emerge again is that Lucasfilm will scrap Johnson's trilogy entirely. Last month, however, Johnson confirmed that the project was still moving forward and it was a matter of figuring out timing on the release strategy. Johnson's next film, Knives Out, doesn't land in theaters until November, likely preventing him from devoting himself to the galaxy far, far away until later this year.
If Benioff and Weiss would be debuting their first film in 2022, that would result in either the subsequent release dates alternating between their trilogy and Johnson's trilogy, which could start in 2024, with the two trilogies ultimately occupying the next 12 years if Disney sticks with their December release strategies. Another possibility is that all three of Benioff and Weiss' films would be released sequentially, meaning Johnson's first film might not head into production for another five years.
Last spring, Lucasfilm earned one of its only financial disappointments, with Solo: A Star Wars Story failing to earn $400 million worldwide. There's no definitive answer for why the film fell short of expectations, with prevailing theories being that it was released too soon after the previous film and that a May release date puts it up against similar summer blockbusters. If Lucasfilm thinks the May release date is the hindrance, then this could mean the only Star Wars films we get through 2026 are the three confirmed films, with at least the first one being from Benioff and Weiss.
One complication with this theory of all three collaborating on one project is that when Benioff and Weiss were announced as developing films, it was specified that their films wouldn't be connected to Johnson's films. It's unclear if both sets of filmmakers had already given brief pitches to Lucasfilm that scored them the gigs or if they were given the keys to the kingdom, so if there were differing opinions, we might not see a collaboration. However, if Lucasfilm realized that they wanted to slow their output to ensure the best projects move forward, they might have found a way for all three filmmakers to unite.
Stay tuned for details on the future of the Star Wars franchise.
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