The end of this year will mark three years since The Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm have released a Star Wars franchise movie. Granted the pandemic caused widespread disruption with movie theater releases, and Lucasfilm has been putting out consistent streaming content, but the era of Star Wars moviemaking is at a standstill.
Or so it seemed.
Lucasfilm’s reputation for movies in the Star Wars franchise took a blow in the latter half of the last decade. Signs were promising when The Walt Disney Company’s first film set in the galaxy far, far away brought in Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) with Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens (2015). But, after Rian Johnson’s divisive Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi (2017), and JJ Abrams’s equally polarizing Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker (2019), fans lost confidence in the franchise, and its ability to deliver good storytelling — even with the return of legacy actors like Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and Carrie Fisher (General Leia Organa).
That all changed when Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni debuted Lucasfilm’s television slate with The Mandalorian, and over the last three years, Star Wars has slowly been rebuilt with projects like The Bad Batch, The Book of Boba Fett, and the recently launched, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The latter sees the return of Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader), prior to the character’s climactic duel aboard the Death Star.
While Star Wars television continues to dominate Lucasfilm’s slate of projects, studio President Kathleen Kennedy has finally given more robust answers surrounding the future of the franchise’s big-screen return. In a discussion at Star Wars Celebration, George Lucas’s successor spoke about the reported Taika Waititi Star Wars movie, among others (via Total Film and ComicBook):
“Kennedy said the untitled movie from the Thor: Love and Thunder director, [Taika Waititi], is targeting a “late 2023″ release. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, which Kennedy says has been pushed aside at Lucasfilm as director Patty Jenkins continues to develop the script about the new generation of starfighter pilots, previously landed on the December 22, 2023 release date.”
Kennedy clarified that Waititi’s untitled Star Wars movie was not aiming for 2023, but “late 2023”. This surely poses questions around the future of Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron blockbuster, which is currently boasting a December 2023 release. And while Luke Skywalker is seemingly hanging around in the small screen ventures, notably the colloquially-coined “Mando-Verse”, Kennedy referenced the overarching saga in which the franchise is anchored. She said:
“As we leave the [Skywalker] saga, we have all this great, exciting work happening on the television side that informs so much about where we’re going. We want to be very intentional about that.”
It is not the first time Kennedy has referenced moving away from the Skywalker Saga, and her comments at Star Wars Celebration prove the studio is doubling down on this decision.
It’s clear that Star Wars is deeply rooted in nostalgia and franchise history. Legacy characters and events are consistently brought into new projects, and despite the feeling of interconnectivity, the continuous stream of cameos and fan expectations can sometimes deliver a stale finished project. In Kennedy’s statements on leaving the Skywalker Saga behind, it may mean that the forthcoming blockbusters, whatever they may be, can lead the Star Wars universe in new directions.
“We have great talent that we’re working with — people who care so deeply about what the next iteration of Star Wars is and about getting people back into movie theaters, so we can really come out with a bang. That’s important to us.”
Kennedy’s comments are quite surprising here. When reading between the lines, the President is seemingly nodding at the critical and commercial failure of the last Star Wars movie in theaters. The industry has seen a big uplift in audiences with movies like Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), The Batman (2022), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), and Top Gun: Maverick (2022) — movies with definite crossover viewership — so the desire to get people into theaters with a film that delivers feels more like a personal quest, and one for Lucasfilm, than something for the industry as a whole.
More comments on Star Wars‘ future in movie theaters came in a different interview. Speaking to ComicBook, the Lucasfilm President revealed her desire for these “intentional” television shows and the direction they may lead, ending with an optimistic message:
“We’re building on theatrical right now, developing scripts […] We’ve got a couple of directors that we’ll announce shortly and you can expect to see Star Wars in movie theaters very soon.”
The Star Wars story continues. A new saga is coming…
What do you think about Kennedy’s comments on upcoming Star Wars movies? Let us know in the comments down below!