Disney has announced release dates for as-yet untitled Star Wars movies in 2022, 2024, and 2026. The galaxy far, far away will enter a new era after this December's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Directed by J.J. Abrams, The Rise of Skywalker will bring both the sequel trilogy (which Abrams kicked off with 2015's The Force Awakens) and the larger Skywalker Saga to a close on the big screen. The Mouse House and Lucasfilm have already announced plans to take a bit of a hiatus after that, as far as new Star Wars movies are concerned.
Of course, just because the films are taking a break, that doesn't mean there aren't any in the pipeline. Both The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are working on new Star Wars movie trilogies at the moment. Details beyond that are being kept tightly under-wraps for the time being, but we now know when these films will actually start making their way into theaters.
Disney has released an updated release calendar for the next several years, following its purchase of Fox's assets in March. As part of the announcement, the studio revealed plans to release three untitled Star Wars films on the pre-Christmas weekend every other year beginning in 2022 (namely, December 16, 2022; December 20, 2024; and December 18, 2026). That means the Star Wars movies will be going on a prolonged three-year break after The Rise of Skywalker becomes the fifth Star Wars film released in as many years, starting in 2015.
It's worth noting that Disney's press release specifically doesn't refer to the three Star Wars movies slated for 2022-2026 as a "trilogy". While that could mean the Mouse House and Lucasfilm haven't settled on which one to make next (Johnson or Benioff and Weiss'), it's also possible the plan is to alternate between them and spread them out across more than four years. Many fans felt Disney's decision to release a new Star Wars movie every year hurt the sequel trilogy, so it's good to see the studio plans to space future films further apart (whatever they end up being). This also means the studio is aiming to dominate the winter holiday season by alternating between a Star Wars film and Avatar sequel for the foreseeable future, beginning in 2021. Indeed, the Mouse House has specifically delayed Avatar 2 (again) from December 2020 to 2021 for that very reason.
As such, it will be interesting to see how Disney's competitors respond to them planting their flag in the sand so firmly. Warner Bros. currently has Sherlock Holmes 3 and Aquaman 2 scheduled to go head to head with Avatar and Star Wars films in 2021 and 2022, respectively, but they may decide to change-up their strategy a bit. Then again, of course, they might not. After all, Sony and Universal plan to pit Jumanji 3 and Cats, respectively, up against The Rise of Skywalker this December, and all three films are expected to be big hits at the box office. We'll just have to wait and see who (if anybody) blinks first in this particular game of Star Wars-related chicken.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019