Rian Johnson’s coming back for more Star Wars – but when will we get to see it? Yes, that’s right – it’s not even been two years since J.J. Abrams rejuvenated the franchise with the long-anticipated The Force Awakens, kickstarting the sequel trilogy, and already Lucasfilm is working on another trio of movies. Coming from Abrams’ successor and director of The Last Jedi Rian Johnson, the announcement has completely changed the perceived the future of the saga.
Admittedly, not much is known about the project at the moment. Lucasfilm has announced Johnson’s involvement and outlined that this will take place apart from the rest of the Saga that he’s currently continuing with Episode VIII. What that means is anyone’s guess, but one thing we can approach from a somewhat informed angle is when it will be released.
At present, we have a Star Wars movie every year up until 2019 – The Last Jedi this December, Solo: A Star Wars Story in May 2018 and Episode IX December 2019. Lucasfilm has been purposely coy about their plans afterward (in part because they haven’t been fully clear) although we’ve certainly had rumors. There have been suggestions they may want to artificially starve the market of Star Wars after Episode IX to build up hype for a sequel trilogy in the mid-2020s, something recent comments from Kathleen Kennedy certainly chimed with. On the other hand, there’s the prospect of more standalones after Solo, with Billy Elliott director Stephen Daldry in talks for Kenobi and other films for the likes of Boba Fett, Yoda and Jabba the Hutt in the pipeline. There are also hints of more movies for Han and Lando after Ron Howard’s, with the actors signed on for a trilogy too.
That’s a lot of spinning plates – even Geoff Johns would feel exhausted – although it’s worth clarifying the only post-IX project that’s been made official is Johnson’s trilogy. With that in mind, it takes pride of place in any projected slate. The first of Johnson’s trilogy could thus hit as early as 2020, while the latest slot would really have to be 2022 – any longer is simply too far out from the announcement. That range accounts for both the possibility the director may want to make a smaller film between projects and that the studio may want a year off from Star Wars (Indiana Jones 5 is set for 2020, after all).
Of course, we must also consider the placement of a full trilogy. Going by how the sequels are being handled thus far, it’s fair to expect one every two years; so further Johnson movies in 2022-2024 and 2024-2026 respectively. However, this assumes Johnson is only directing the first – it’s unlikely he’d be able to maintain that two-year turnaround, especially as most Disney-era Lucasfilm projects have taken longer than that to come together. This means either other directors step in for Films 2 & 3, or they’re more spaced apart; sequels as late as 2027 and 2029.
Whatever the eventual outcome, you can rationally expect Rian Johnson’s trilogy to start in the early 2020s. We can’t go much further, although if pressed we’d say 2021 for the first movie and then two-year gaps; this allows a franchise pause year in 2020, follows the current release structure on the sequels and still allows for regular anthologies in between. That would see us through to 2025 which, allowing for another post-trilogy pause year, would be prime time for an Episode X in 2027, the franchise’s 50th Anniversary. We’ll just have to wait and see.
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