Lucasfilm is reportedly ironing out the next decade of Star Wars content, and it's all but a given those plans will consist of another film trilogy set in the mainline saga. Since being acquired by Disney, the studio has gotten into the business of annual cinematic releases, alternating between numbered episodes in the core narrative and spinoffs that flesh out certain aspects of the canon. Over the past couple of years, those anthologies have made plenty of headlines, and not just for their extensive production woes (see: Rogue One reshoots and Solo director drama). Lately, ideas for future standalones have been revealed, including an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie that's in early talks with an Oscar-nominated director.
The spinoffs provide Lucasfilm with plenty of exciting opportunities, but the bread and butter of the film series will always be the saga. Those behind Star Wars are keenly aware of this, implementing a different kind of marketing strategy for the episodes. Even though The Last Jedi is the third film of this new era, its tie-in merchandise was released on Force Friday II. Both The Force Awakens and Episode VIII received massive Vanity Fair spreads, while Rogue One didn't. Last year's standalone is also being left off a franchise marathon event taking place this December, so there's definitely more of an emphasis placed on the saga films. And considering how successful the sequel trilogy has already been, it basically goes without saying the stories of Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron will continue beyond Episode IX.
Lucasfilm Will Make Star Wars: Episode 10
Studio president Kathleen Kennedy made headlines recently when she confirmed the famed story group is in the process of piecing together the next 10 years of Star Wars. Obviously, she did not reveal any concrete details about what's in store, but her quote, where she mentioned "future stories" with the modern trilogy's new characters, certainly makes it seem like Episode X is on the table. Granted, Star Wars is now a multimedia empire with novels, comics, and TV shows, so further adventures with Rey and Finn could be told through those outlets. However, the movies remain the crown jewel of Star Wars for several reasons.
The Force Awakens was an unprecedented event, grossing an astounding $936.6 million domestically and more than $2 billion worldwide. Even more important than those financial figures is the fact that it was well-received. Detractors will point to the intentional New Hope similarities, but the bottom line is that Episode VII connected with both the passionate fan base and casual viewers. Shortly after the film's release, the new generation had already become favorites, taking the torch from Luke, Han, and Leia and running full sprint ahead. It was a combination of the screenwriting and performances that endeared the trio of Rey, Finn, and Poe to moviegoers and cemented Kylo Ren's status as one of the most nuanced figures in the lore. BB-8 was a merchandise moving machine months before Force Awakens debuted and remains incredibly popular - even with the Porgs stealing hearts.
Simply put, viewers love the characters J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan created and they're going to want to see more of them even when this trilogy wraps up in 2019. After all, Luke, Han, and Leia got a chance to add to their legacies years after Return of the Jedi, so why should the tales of Rey, Finn, and Poe end when the three are still young and have a whole life ahead of them? In a way, the newer films are being set up as the closing of one book and the start of another. Han Solo died in The Force Awakens. Leia, originally a centerpiece of Star Wars 9, is most likely having her role substantially retooled following Carrie Fisher's death. Luke's fate remains up in the air, but odds are even he doesn't make it out of this trilogy alive - either heroically sacrificing himself for the greater good or being defeated as a villain. In contrast, the original trilogy crew's younger counterparts are at the beginnings of their respective journeys. Rey needs guidance finding her place in the universe. Finn is still unsure if the Resistance is where he wants to be. Even Kylo Ren has some molding left to be done.
It's true that post-Episode IX stories could be the subject of a series of novels or comic book run, but the fact of the matter is the films are more profitable in the long run. Not only did Force Awakens gross $2 billion worldwide, it sold a large amount of toys and other tie-in products, and The Last Jedi will be more of the same. As beloved as the books and comics are in some circles, they just do not have the same kind of pull as the movies. There weren't any Funko Pops made for the new characters in Bloodline, and Sphero didn't produce an app-enabled Mr. Bones robot for the holiday season. When we say fans are going to want to see more of Rey and friends, we mean on the big screen. A Star Wars TV spot has the power to dominate social media discussions during Game 7 of the World Series. Lucasfilm will want to continue the saga until there are no more good stories to tell or the brand wears out its welcome.
- 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
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019