As Star Wars fans celebrate the 40th anniversary of the galaxy far, far away and reflect on the property’s legacy, they’re also looking towards the future with much excitement – including what movies will come out in the next decade. Disney’s surprise acquisition of Lucasfilm back in 2012 meant the Mouse House would launch a new era of Star Wars films, and that initiative finally began in 2015 with the premiere of The Force Awakens. Looking to replicate the model popularized by Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm is currently in the midst of a slate featuring annual releases, alternating between the three episodes of the Skywalker saga sequel trilogy and standalone spinoffs like Rogue One and Han Solo.
It’s long been presumed, but never officially confirmed, that a third installment of the so-called Star Wars anthology series would make its way to theaters in 2020. Unsurprisingly, there have been a number of rumors concerning this mystery film; one day, speculation will point to an Obi-Wan Kenobi solo film, while others see reports of a bounty hunter movie starring Boba Fett. Right now, there’s no telling what it will be considering Lucasfilm’s plans for their prized possession post-Episode IX remain up in the air. It seems like a given there will be another spinoff at some point, but when it becomes public knowledge is unknown.
From the sound of things, Lucasfilm doesn’t appear to be in any rush to announce the 2020 anthology, and that definitely makes sense. As of this writing, The Last Jedi is in post-production, Han Solo is in principal photography, Episode IX is in pre-production, and Indiana Jones 5 is in development. That’s four massive blockbusters Kathleen Kennedy and company are trying to juggle at once, so they do have a full plate. Even though all of that is on the horizon, people can’t stop theorizing what comes next. But what if Lucasfilm isn’t sure yet? There’s some evidence out there to suggest 2020 potentially will be a Star Wars free year at the multiplex.
A few weeks ago, Disney unveiled a massive release schedule that ran from now until the end of 2020 (with some 2021 dates thrown in for good measure). Interestingly enough, the last Star Wars movie on the slate is Episode IX, which comes out in May 2019. The simple explanation for this is that Lucasfilm isn’t ready to announce the third spinoff yet, but there’s a difference between revealing the specifics of a project and merely giving it a release date. For instance, that Disney slate has several “Untitled Marvel Movies” and “Untitled Pixar Movies,” which will all get official titles when the time is right. What matters most is that they’re on the calendar, staking claim to prime real estate before the competition. So it’s fascinating that Lucasfilm, who knows how to plan ahead (all Disney era Star Wars directors were attached to their respective films in 2015) hasn’t simply given “Untitled Star Wars Anthology Film” a slot in 2020.
Instead, the studio pushed the aforementioned Indiana Jones 5 back from July 2019 to July 2020. Conspiracy theorists might say this is because Lucasfilm knows they aren’t going to release a Star Wars spinoff that year, but still wanted to come out with a new crowd-pleasing blockbuster. Granted, Marvel is now in the business of distributing three films annually, but every studio is different. Typically (though there are exceptions), Pixar has one movie a year and puts all of their resources behind that one product. Just because Marvel has a proven way of doing things, that doesn’t mean every Disney affiliate has to copy them. For what it’s worth, Lucasfilm never made a Star Wars and Indiana Jones installment in the same year, allowing all the previous entries to be the tentpole for them. Something similar could be in the works here. Again, they were confident enough to schedule a fifth adventure for Henry Jones, Jr., but made no mention of another Star Wars anthology. That is somewhat telling.