When Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters next month, it will be Lucasfilm’s big test-fire to see if the new Disney-backed Star Wars expansion plans constitute a fully-operational battle station.
Rogue One is a prequel to the 1977 original, relating the events which led to the iconic start of that film, namely the Rebel Alliance’s heist of the Death Star plans from the Empire. Originally categorized as Anthology films, these Star Wars Stories will explore standalone stories quite different from the primary Episodic saga, which chronicles the Skywalker family and friend’s entanglement with the fate of the galaxy far, far away.
When George Lucas sold his company to Disney in 2012, they immediately put into plans the long-teased sequel trilogy, as well as three of the then-titled Anthology films. Rogue One is the first out of the gate, chosen because of its close connection to the first film which makes it more accessible to casual audiences, according to Lucasfilm’s head of story development Kiri Hart, via EW’s Anthony Breznican.
It’s followed by a Han Solo movie starring Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover as the beloved smuggler and his best friend Lando Calrissian, as well as Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke as the female lead (these new movies love themselves some British brunettes). The third, a film about Boba Fett and the bounty hunters of the galaxy, was to be directed by Josh Trank, before the nuclear implosion before, during, and after production of 2015’s Fantastic Four drove him and the project underground. As of now, the field is clear after Colin Trevorrow’s Episode IX is released in 2019.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy also spoke to EW about the future of the Star Wars movies, which, with The Force Awakens a smash, Rogue One almost upon us, and the Rian Johnson-directed Episode VIII in post-production, are at an inflection point. So what’s next (please, please, please take advantage of Ewan McGregor’s willingness to star in an Obi-Wan movie).
“There are [possible movies] that we have been talking a lot about. But we are planning to sit down in January, since we will have had The Force Awakens released, now Rogue One, and we’ve finished shooting Episode VIII. We have enough information where we can step back a little bit and say, What are we doing? What do we feel is exciting? And what are some of the things we want to explore?”
Those planning to sit down in January include the story and visual effects teams, who will be joined by the directors and writers who were a part of the first three entries in the new canon. She didn’t rule out a future where the Episodes go on break and standalones take over, adding the Stories would “more than likely” forgo the opening crawl.
“We feel that that is proprietary with the saga films. But how this evolves…? We haven’t fully decided, and [traditional Star Wars elements] may be pretty spare for this first one . . . George talked to me about doing this when I first came aboard. He had often thought about doing it and he had actually written down three or four thoughts and ideas, directions you could go. Obviously inside the mythology there were lots of opportunities. So that was the first conversation I had.”
Kennedy elaborated on the ideas from the venerable Star Wars creator, which didn’t include Rogue One (an idea originating with Industrial Light & Magic’s John Knoll) or the Han Solo film.
“No, we certainly talked about origin type stories, but we didn’t get into the specifics of that. We talked a lot about the Jedi and the foundational ideas that George had thought about when he created the mythology. It was sort of spit-balling ideas.”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters December 16 and Episode VIII December 15, 2017. The Han Solo movie, to be directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord, will be released May 25, 2018.