Star Wars: Disney CEO Promises “Creative Activity” During Theatrical Hiatus Post-Rise of Skywalker

The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger on Thursday said there will continue to be "a lot of creative activity" from Lucasfilm despite the Star Wars slowdown planned for theatrical films after the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, touted as the conclusion of the four-decade Skywalker Saga. Star Wars films will enter "into a hiatus for a few years" post-Rise of Skywalker, but Lucasfilm remains in development on the sophomore season of the first live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian, a Rogue One spinoff centered around Diego Luna's Cassian Andor, and an Ewan McGregor-led Obi-Wan Kenobi series set sometime after Revenge of the Sith.

"In the Star Wars case, Star Wars IX, which comes out this December, will be the last of the Skywalker Saga, and will go into hiatus for a few years before the next Star Wars feature," Iger said during Disney's fourth quarter 2019 financial results conference call. "There will be a lot of creative activity in the interim."

Iger then said the company feels "really good" about the creative and commercial direction of both Star Wars and Marvel Studios.

"As we look at these businesses, they're film businesses, they're TV businesses, they're still big consumer products drivers, and more and more, they have a greater presence in parks and resorts," he said. "We feel really good about both their creative direction, but also their commercial direction."

In September 2018, months after young Han Solo prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story fell shy of $400 million at the worldwide box office, becoming the lowest-grossing live-action Star Wars movie, Iger admitted Disney's Star Wars movie-per-year strategy since 2015 was "a little too much, too fast."

"I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made — I take the blame — was a little too much, too fast. You can expect some slowdown, but that doesn't mean we're not gonna make films," Iger told The Hollywood Reporter. "J.J. is busy making [Episode] IX. We have creative entities, including [Game of Thrones creators David] Benioff and [D.B.] Weiss, who are developing sagas of their own, which we haven't been specific about. And we are just at the point where we're gonna start making decisions about what comes next after J.J.'s. But I think we're gonna be a little bit more careful about volume and timing. And the buck stops here on that."

Earlier this year, Disney dated three as-yet-untitled Star Wars movies for pre-Christmas weekend every other year beginning in 2022. It's unclear if the studio is still planning those films for December 2022, 2024 and 2026.

Benioff and Weiss have since exited their pact with Lucasfilm, stepping away in October in favor of a reported nine-figure overall deal with Netflix.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson believes his planned trilogy of original films are still in the works, saying recently, "We'll see. I'm still talking to Lucasfilm, they're figuring out what they're doing and we'll see what happens." Johnson added he'd "be thrilled" if the undefined project moves forward, adding, "I'm working on my own stuff, too."

Most recently, when defending his decision to back off Star Wars, Iger said "less is more." Disney revived the franchise with Abrams' The Force Awakens in December 2015, following it with Gareth Edwards' A New Hope prequel Rogue One in December 2016, Johnson's Last Jedi in December 2017 and Ron Howards' Solo in May 2018.

"I have said publicly that I think we made and released too many Star Wars films over a short period of time," Iger told BBC Radio. "I have not said that they were disappointing in any way. I've not said that I'm disappointed in their performance. I just think that there's something so special about a Star Wars film, and less is more."

The first episode of The Mandalorian launches alongside Disney+ Nov. 12. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens Dec. 20.