Among the news to come out of the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour, this was simultaneously the least surprising and most exciting: ABC is in conversations with Lucasfilm about a live-action Star Wars show.
New entertainment president of the Disney-owned television channel Channing Dungey said, “Ohh, as a fan, I would absolutely love to say ‘yes'” to EW on Thursday.
“The conversations with Lucas, we have had conversations with them and will continue to have conversations with them. I think it would be wonderful if we could find a way to extend that brand into our programming.”
“It’s all a little bit hush-hush. That company exists under a big shroud of secrecy. If you feel Marvel’s secretive, [Lucasfilm] takes it to a whole other level … [Talks] are ongoing. We don’t have an official timeline yet.”
Live-action Star Wars has long been the realm of the films, with TV the domain of animated stories like Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. As fans may or may not know, a live-action show, titled Star Wars: Underworld, was in development for a longtime prior to Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm. That project, set between the original trilogy and the prequels and focused on the criminal underbelly of Coruscant, was developed extensively under Lucas and his team (over 50 scripts were written). It was scrapped after the Disney sale. EW has more on that saga here.
The move would echo the strategy with Disney’s other major cinematic universe/childhood toy bin, which expanded to the network with middling results like Agents of S.H.I.E.LD and Agent Carter. It would be a tricky move; Marvel TV’s Netflix dramas have received more success than the network shows, of which only the struggling S.H.I.E.L.D. remains (Carter was cancelled and the spinoff Most Wanted didn’t even make it past the pilot after nearly two years of development).
The problem for Marvel is the same for Star Wars: ABC has budget and content restrictions that many cable and streaming options do not. Shared universes have differing theories on cross-medium content. DC has separated their films and TV while Marvel preaches “it’s all connected.” But the latter has a huge wall between their film and television divisions too, so they’re not exactly successful on that front either. Can ABC and their partners believably tell epic sci-fi stories on a weekly basis? Opinions of whether S.H.I.E.L.D. tells good comic/superhero stories will vary, but the low ratings don’t lie.
Right now, this is just dollar signs in an executive’s eyes, too early for any ideas or concepts. I could see a Star Wars show dropping as soon as 2018, but probably later.