Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is currently tearing up the box office, making the new annual release schedule for Star Wars a smash success thus far. And with Episode VIII looking to drop its very first trailer sometime next spring, and with the still-untitled young Han Solo anthology film set to begin filming right around the same time, the never-ending Lucasfilm production machine is continuing forward apace.
That makes the third round of sequels and spinoffs the highest priority on everyone’s mind. When can we expect any kind of information on Episode IX and the movie that will replace the dead-in-the-water Boba Fett Star Wars Story? As it turns out, sooner than you might think.
Omega Underground is now reporting that a second source has confirmed the previous report from Project Casting, alleging an April 2017 production start date for Episode IX. That means that production on Episode IX (in some form) would take place concurrently with Episode VIII’s post-production and Han Solo’s principal photography.
If accurate, this is highly interesting news. More than the rather-convoluted production slate that Lucasfilm will have to maintain – it’s quickly getting to Marvel Studios-esque levels here – there’s the question of release dates. Both The Force Awakens and Rogue One had their initially-planned opening days pushed back from the traditional May window to December, a move which SW8 is following. Disney/Lucasfilm is releasing Han Solo in May of 2018 based on the expectation that Avatar 2 will open in theaters in December of that year, but it's plausible that Episode IX will move back to December 2019 (seeing as there won't be an Avatar sequel arriving that year).
Still, a production start in April 2017 doesn’t fit the pattern that we’ve seen with Disney’s Star Wars films thus far. Assuming that the second anthology installment does, indeed, keep its May 2018 debut, here’s a list of the various movies’ production start dates, their release dates, and how many months transpired between the two:
- Episode VII – May 2014/December 2015 (19 months)
- Rogue One – August 2015/December 2016 (16 months)
- Episode VIII – February 2016/December 2017 (22 months)
- Young Han Solo – February 2017/May 2018 (15 months)
A filming start next April, with a debut in May 2019, would give Star Wars: Episode IX a sizeable 25 month window. If we bump the film back to December of that year, then the production cycle grows to 32 months.
This means that either (a) the information is incorrect or that (b) Disney executives, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow are all so concerned about sticking the landing perfectly right – since this may very well be the swan song to the entire Skywalker family story and all – that they’ve built themselves a filmmaking lifecycle that more closely mirrors what George Lucas did with all six of his installments; giving himself plenty of time and room for reshoots or writing entirely new material, based on how the movie evolves in the editing room. Either way, it opens a can of worms – one that fans of Star Wars should enjoy following and obsessing about over the course of the next few years.
- Star Wars: Rogue One / Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) release date: Dec 16, 2016
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018