With Star Wars: The Last Jedi now barely in the rearview mirror, work has already begun on Rian Johnson's new trilogy of Star Wars films. Set in a previously unexplored part of the Star Wars galaxy, the new films will have no connection to the current trilogy. Disney gave Johnson the go-ahead to begin developing the new trilogy even before The Last Jedi hit theaters in December. Johnson was given the greenlight to make his own trilogy after J.J. Abrams was announced as writer and director of Star Wars IX.
How best to expand the Star Wars universe has become a hot topic in light of the new run of films kicked off with 2015's The Force Awakens. So far, Disney and Lucasfilm have stuck with the new main trilogy connected to the original films plus a pair of standalones, including this year's Solo: A Star Wars Story. However, plans are in place to introduce new stories set in the wider universe. New projects include a series of feature films developed by Game of Thrones showrunners Benioff and Weiss as well as a live-action TV series from Iron Man director Jon Favreau. More possible standalones include films built around OT characters Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Jabba the Hutt.
Perhaps most exciting of all the announced projects is Johnson's trilogy, if only because it promises a clean break and a new beginning...which could be exactly what Star Wars needs. Speaking to Empire magazine from this weekend's Rakuten TV Empire Awards, Johnson's long-time producing partner Ram Bergman gave an update on the status of the new films. According to Bergman, work has already begun. Bergman said: "We've started. Slowly, slowly, but we've started. Hopefully soon we're going to get busier."
Later on the same red carpet, Johnson himself confirmed that work is underway on the trilogy. Johnson indicated however that the process is in its very early stages. Saying he's excited to dive in on the project, Johnson admitted that he still has to "figure out what it's going to be." In a previous interview, Johnson revealed that Disney and Lucasfilm signed off on the new films even though Johnson had yet to come up with an actual story. And it sounds as though Johnson still has not settled on a story.
With all these different projects in development, the Star Wars universe will expand at least in sheer amount of content. The key question remains: How much freedom will filmmakers have to put their own spin on Star Wars? Is there some corporate plan Disney and Lucasfilm expect directors to at least loosely adhere to? Or will Rian Johnson and others truly get free rein? Johnson supposedly received a lot of freedom on The Last Jedi, which led to some truly out-of-leftfield developments. However, not all fans were happy with the direction Johnson took. Could fan backlash force Disney to pull back on leash? Or will Disney decide to trust the creative minds they've hired to shepherd their lucrative franchise forward?
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019