As we approach the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, a new report states that a long-rumored Star Wars spinoff film is about to move into the production pipeline. According to Fantha Tracks, the Obi-Wan Kenobi movie is now in official pre-production, with the shoot slated for a spring 2019 shoot and the film hitting theaters in 2020.
Here's a snippet of the details that the website posted:
"The project is sufficiently along that an art department is now in full pre-production mode at Pinewood Studios, England with ancillary work being carried out at Industrial Light & Magic in London. A number of concept artists, prop modellers, and storyboard artists are working as a team across the two locations on the film, with the group growing in numbers every month.
Contracts have also been extended to a number of crew who have worked on various Star Wars films produced at Pinewood under the Disney era, to join the production when their work on Episode IX ends...
Pre-production will continue at Pinewood whilst Episode IX shoots from this summer through the end of the year, at which point production of the Obi-Wan movie has been scheduled to move onto stages in mid January 2019 with the main shoot to begin in April of 2019.
The project is being developed under the corporate name of PLT Productions (UK) Ltd.
The scheduled release date is December 2020."
This information syncs with earlier reports that Obi-Wan Kenobi would be Lucasfilm's film to shoot in 2019, after Star Wars: Episode IX films this year. All in all, this sounds pretty credible, and fans should probably expect some official casting and / or production announcements to be revealed by the time fourth quarter 2018 rolls around.
Back when Lucasfilm was first acquired by Disney, I was enthusiastically behind the idea of an Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff. As I wrote at the time:
"Whether delving into Obi-Wan's younger years; filling in the gaps in his life during Episodes 1 – 6 (The Clone Wars, his exile years before A New Hope) – or maybe just a portrait of the man that covers all that aforementioned material – Kenobi is a complex, pivotal character who can surely support a standalone film.
People love McGregor's Obi-Wan, and there's the added benefit of possibly leaving room for Liam Neeson to return as Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan's mentor. Star Wars could use a good Medieval Knight-style film, and Obi-Wan's adventures could certainly be spun in that way."
While the Star Wars animated series have fleshed out more of Obi-Wan's backstory, there's still so much room for a story that could invoke King Arthur in a sci-fi setting, while also possibly delivering a non-linear narrative that jumps between points in Obi-Wan's life. Now that anticipation for Solo is getting exponentially higher, Lucasfilm may simply embrace these "throwback standalones" as an official branch of the franchise, and keep Kenobi in that same vein (see what I did there?).
Star Wars will continue with Solo: A Star Wars Story on May 25th, and Episode IX on December 20, 2019.