Disney is planning to slowdown their Star Wars output. When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, it was quickly announced that a new era for Star Wars was in order. The two giant studios wanted to relaunch the galaxy far, far away in a big way, starting with three new installments in the Skywalker saga. However, their plans didn't stop there. They also wanted to expand the franchise beyond the episodic films to include standalone films. This was first implemented in 2016 with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Through the release of the standalones and episodic films, Star Wars has been operating under a schedule that guaranteed (at least) one new Star Wars movie every year. This was prior to a few disturbances with the franchise, as Star Wars: The Last Jedi divided fans and Solo: A Star Wars Story disappointed at the box office. Those two movies hit theaters roughly six months apart and their combined results raised questions about Star Wars fatigue.
Disney has no plans to stop making Star Wars movies, but a slowdown appears to be coming soon. THR spoke to Disney CEO Bob Iger and asked him about the original plan to release a Star Wars film every year. He admits that his decision to push such a standard was a mistake and confirms that they may take their foot off the gas pedal a bit. What exactly the plan is isn't yet known, but it appears after Star Wars: Episode IX hits theaters next year, there's no guarantee another Star Wars movie will arrive in 2020.
I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made — I take the blame — was a little too much, too fast. You can expect some slowdown, but that doesn't mean we're not gonna make films. J.J. [Abrams] is busy making [Episode] IX. We have creative entities, including [Game of Thrones creators David] Benioff and [D.B.] Weiss, who are developing sagas of their own, which we haven't been specific about. And we are just at the point where we're gonna start making decisions about what comes next after J.J.'s. But I think we're gonna be a little bit more careful about volume and timing. And the buck stops here on that.
Based on the current state of Star Wars, this is an understandable move for Disney and Lucasfilm to consider, but still a surprising one. They have successfully relaunched Star Wars and by the time J.J. Abrams concludes the Skywalker saga next year, they'll have released a new Star Wars film for five consecutive years. It is already safe to assume Star Wars 9 will easily make another $1 billion, which should lead to a total gross of at least $6 billion for these new films. Since this is a business, its potentially shocking that Disney would turn down roughly another $1 billion every single year - unless they believe the continued output will hurt the brand in the long run.
Even if Disney and Lucasfilm give Star Wars a break in 2020 - or even through 2021 - the franchise will return to the big screen eventually. Iger mentions the new series being created by Game of Thrones' David Benioff and D.B. Weiss as one of the new sagas they're working on. Rian Johnson is also still developing a trilogy of his own, but the recent announcement about his mystery movie with Daniel Craig will keep him busy until Star Wars is ready for his next story. And, even though the standalone films are on hold right now, the concept should still return at some point down the road. Star Wars still has a future in theaters, but fans may need to prepare themselves for a small hiatus after Episode 9.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019