Why Episode X Will Definitely Happen
Star Wars is the biggest IP in film history. In fact, it's the only franchise ever to hold the record the highest-grossing film of all-time at the domestic box office twice. The original film became the first installment to achieve that milestone in 1977 with $307.2 million, though it was later beaten by Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in 1982. The record kept being toppled until James Cameron's 2009 film, Avatar, set the bar with a whopping $760.5 million. Anticipation for J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens, however, allowed the film to become the second installment in the franchise to blast past the Na'vi with an astonishing $965.4 million - and that's a record that Hollywood will be hard-pressed to top.
Even though Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi isn't expected to break those sort of records, it's still earning enough for it to crack the top 10 highest-grossing films of all-time at the worldwide box office - and that's only after one month of release. It still has quite a ways to go before it leaves theaters, and it could end up in the top 5 highest-grossing movies ever. While Rogue One also hit a billion, it's established the anthologies as incrementally smaller; the real appeal of Star Wars nevertheless lies in the main Skywalker story, and it would be foolish to simply cut it off.
In November 2017, Kathleen Kennedy revealed that they're already planning the next decade of Star Wars beyond Episode IX, specifically with regard to new stories involving the sequel trilogy's heroes: Rey, Finn, Poe, and BB-8. She didn't mention if the new stories would be anthologies or Saga films, but it makes clear some form of Episode X-continuation is on the cards. This chimes with what Kennedy said at Star Wars Celebration Orlando, with the producer making clear there's room for the Skywalker Saga to continue beyond Episode IX depending on the story; while there's no definitive plan for the Saga to go on past Abrams' film, it's clear that Lucasfilm doesn't want to let go of their new heroes just yet. And after The Last Jedi took pointed steps beyond the Skywalkers, it's not hard to imagine them crafting a new form of Saga storytelling
When Could Star Wars Episode X Release?
The way Star Wars movies are released has changed a lot in recent years. George Lucas took his time developing the franchise: the original trilogy came at a rate of one every three years, and then it wasn't until 1999 - 16 years after Return of the Jedi - that the first installment in the prequel trilogy hit screens. But now, under Walt Disney Studios' oversight, Lucasfilm is releasing one movie a year, with core episodes every two.
Based on that schedule, Star Wars Episode X could in theory drop as soon as December 2021. However, that assumes short-term acceleration. Lucasfilm is thinking over a decade ahead, and even if Episode X is already on their minds, they're likely to want another gap between the trilogies to allow actors to age up and create a similar audience hunger to what allowed The Force Awakens to be such a hit. In that case, it's unlikely a fourth trilogy would start until the late 2020s, after Johnson's series is over, perhaps timed for the franchise's 50th anniversary in 2027.
That may seem a long way off - it's eight years after Episode IX hits theaters - but that's exactly the point. To say Star Wars Episode IX is the true end of the Skywalker Saga is short-sighted, regardless of what happens to Kylo Ren.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019