Disney just announced release dates for three new Star Wars films, but which ones will come out over the next handful of years. This December's The Rise of Skywalker provides a definitive conclusion to the Skywalker saga, but Lucasfilm never intended for Episode IX to be the last Star Wars movie. The studio is currently developing two separate series for the big screen: one spearheaded by Rian Johnson and another overseen by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. Both of these are independent from the Skywalker saga and will explore new characters and stories to help flesh out the canon.
As Lucasfilm approaches the end of their current slate, many fans have been wondering about their second phase under the Disney umbrella. Despite unsubstantiated rumors of projects being cancelled, Johnson is actually working closely alongside Benioff & Weiss as the trio plot out the course for their respective movies. One of the biggest questions was when fans would get an opportunity to see them, and with Disney securing 2022, 2024, and 2026 release dates for mystery Star Wars films, there's now a general idea. But which ones will come out on those dates?
Since Star Wars returned in 2015 with The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm's release pattern has been to alternate between installments in the sequel trilogy and the standalone anthology spinoffs. For instance, Rogue One preceded The Last Jedi, and Solo debuted before The Rise of Skywalker. For this next lineup, Lucasfilm may do something similar (assuming these dates are for two different film series and not a single trilogy), which would make the initial slate look something like this:
- December 2022: Benioff/Weiss First Movie
- December 2024: Rian Johnson First Movie
- December 2026: Benioff/Weiss Second Movie
The vice versa of this could happen, of course, but the general principle remains the same. Instead of scheduling one trilogy in full, Lucasfilm would once again be alternating between two different series. There would be a greater gap between entries, but that's a byproduct of the presence of the Avatar sequels (which were not a concern when Disney first bought Lucasfilm). The Mouse House had to get creative planning their slate, as they own the Avatar and Star Wars franchises. Even if the Disney/Fox deal didn't go through, it still wouldn't make sense to release installments from those two properties at the same time. They target very similar demographics and would cannibalize each other in a head-to-head showdown. In order for the two to achieve maximum profitability, some separation is necessary.
Nothing's official outside of the release dates, but it's reasonable to believe the Benioff & Weiss and Johnson series will be worked on concurrently. As some may recall, Lucasfilm first announced the Johnson Trilogy in November 2017, so it wouldn't make sense to wait until 2028 to release the first movie. While promoting his crime thriller Knives Out at CinemaCon this year, Johnson made it sound like he's jumping right back to the galaxy far, far away once Knives Out is in the rearview mirror - not taking an extended break. So this next wave of Star Wars movies is going to roll out at a more deliberate pace than the sequel trilogy, but perhaps that'll be a benefit. Spacing them out like this combats against franchise fatigue and also gives the creative teams time to work out any kinks that may pop up along the way.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019