As soon as Disney bought the ‘Star Wars’ franchise, in its acquisition of Lucasfilm for $4 billion (£2.7 billion) in 2012, it immediately announced the trilogy that has begun with the hugely successful release of ‘The Force Awakens’.
From here the future for ‘Star Wars’ is mapped out carefully. ‘The Force Awakens’ – while being dubbed ‘Episode VII’ and a financial and critical continuation of the saga – is also a new beginning. Obviously there are two more films to come as part of a trilogy, but that’s not all. There are spin-offs and possible anthology films in the pipeline – not to mention the speculation as to which direction the franchise goes in the coming years.
The known ‘Star Wars’ release schedule
This film veers away from the characters of ‘The Force Awakens’ and tells the story existing between ‘Revenge of the Sith’ and ‘A New Hope’.
2017 – Star Wars: Episode VIII – the follow up to ‘The Force Awakens’ with the director baton passing to Rian Johnson to develop the story started by its predecessor. It’s been delayed from May 2017 but should be out around Christmas 2017.
2018 – Young Han Solo Film – a switch away from the main series, but much of this film idea is still under discussion, with the studio rumoured to be evaluating hundreds of possible candidates to play the young Han Solo. Release is set for May 2018.
2019 – Star Wars: Episode IX – back to the main series again and the conclusion of the trilogy started in late 2015. ‘Jurassic World’ director Colin Trevorrow is schedule to direct it and will have access to the stars of ‘The Force Awakens’ in Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.
2020 – A Spin Off Title – this spin off is in a degree of limbo due to a change to the scheduled director, so known details are sketchy.
There are various rumours and predictions as to Disney’s other plans for the franchise.
Remaking the prequel trilogy
With Disney taking over the franchise and making such a superb job of their first release, there’s hope that they may re-make the . This would effectively excise Episodes I-III from the ‘Star Wars’ canon.
It’s an idea that some think has some credence in that the prequel trilogy is pretty much ignored in ‘The Force Awakens’. There again, remaking films while their creator is still alive may not be a strong possibility although it may depend on whatever was written into the contract when Disney bought Lucasfilm.
Split Episode IX into two parts
In order to spin out the last of the current series, splitting Episode IX into two is a possibility. It also gives Disney more time before moving into another series of films in the main ‘Star Wars’ series. There’s also the tempting prospect of more money for the corporation by having two film releases instead of just one.
A sub series
The idea of running a series that can run concurrently with the main franchise may be considered. Disney know how successful this can be through the way their subsidiary Marvel runs their main ‘Avengers’ franchise: in the usual three years between films, they release titles through sub franchises such as ‘Captain America’ and ‘Thor’.
One thing we know; ‘Star Wars’ films will continue long into the future so long as the huge appetite for them exists.