For more than two years, Star Wars fans have been waiting on updates about writer/director Rian Johnson's announced trilogy of films, yet with the landscape of the franchise so drastically different from what it was when Lucasfilm announced those projects, evidence continues to mount that the films might not be happening. This is largely speculation on the part of fans, as neither Lucasfilm nor Johnson have offered any official word on when those films would be moving forward, with the recent confirmation that the filmmaker was developing a sequel to Knives Out possibly another nail in the potential coffin of that trilogy.
Johnson developing a new film unrelated to the galaxy far, far away doesn't at all prevent him from making his trilogy, but comments about the timing of the Knives Out sequel could pose a problem for the planned films.
Currently, Lucasfilm has three untitled Star Wars projects with release dates, beginning in December of 2022 and continuing in December of 2024 and December of 2026. The first release date was previously going to be held by a film from Game of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, though their departure from the franchise last year has left fans wondering what project could take that spot. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Johnson hopes to begin production on his Knives Out sequel within a year, with the filmmaker likely not working on a potential Star Wars film until that film has been released.
At the earliest, a Knives Out sequel would land in theaters late in 2021, four years after the original announcement about Johnson's Star Wars trilogy. Including pre-production, new Star Wars films take between two and three years to make, with 2024 being the absolute earliest Johnson's film would hit theaters, which would include a script being ready by 2021.
While it is absolutely possible for this timeline to pan out and Johnson to deliver a Star Wars film in four years, their last two films may have altered the studio's entire outlook.
Shortly before the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story in 2018, the franchise was seemingly growing exponentially, with a number of rumored standalone films being in development. Following that film's disappointing box office results, Disney CEO Bob Iger made it clear that they were slowing down production on the films and they would focus entirely on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. With that film now in theaters, critics are giving it some of the worst reviews of the series and the box office numbers are trailing The Last Jedi.
With both The Last Jedi and Knives Out being some of the most critically praised films of their years of release, it's possible that Lucasfilm will do whatever it takes to entice Johnson back to the franchise. However, while The Rise of Skywalker might have faced struggles with its release, the TV series Star Wars: The Mandalorian has been a big hit with both fans and critics, leading some fans to think that producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni could take on more leadership at Lucasfilm in regards to its theatrical future. Additionally, Lucasfilm confirmed that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige had been enlisted to serve as a producer on an unnamed film. This could potentially result in the studio wanting to wipe the slate clean from all previous announcements to reestablish a trajectory for the film franchise.
Whatever the future might hold for the series, it wouldn't come as much of a surprise if Johnson were to part ways with the series, especially given how much social media harassment he has endured over the past two years from fans who didn't enjoy the decisions he made with The Last Jedi.
Stay tuned for details on the galaxy far, far away.