The Force Awakens is almost upon us, but the Star Wars team is already preparing Rogue One and Episode VIII.
On December 17, it happens. The Force officially awakens, and we get the Star Wars film expected to undo the damage the prequels caused. No pressure, J.J. Abrams.
Disney and Lucasfilm are banking on The Force Awakens being a massive hit (and if pre-sales are anything to go by, it will be!), having lined up a slew of new movies set within George Lucas’ prolific universe.
Not only will The Force Awakens be followed by Episode VIII and Episode IX, but a series of prequel films are also slated.
“We’ve thought this all through,” Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The story group has put together a very carefully thought-through strategic plan for how we’re developing the stories.”
Let’s take a closer look at this plan.
2016 – ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’
First up is Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards and starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, and Ben Mendelsohn.
Kennedy tells THR that they’ve been focusing on Rogue One for the past five months; filming allegedly began in September.
Rogue One is set between the prequel and main Star Wars trilogies, and follows a group of rebels as they set out to steal the plans for the original Death Star.
The movie will premiere in just over a year, on December 16, 2016.
2017 – ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’
Production on The Force Awakens‘ first sequel will begin in January, Kennedy confirms.
“This will be the only time that it’s really one right after the other, because our whole slate got upended a little bit when J.J. [Abrams] and I needed to postpone Episode VII from summer to Christmas,” says Kennedy.
We’ll have to wait and see which characters survive The Force Awakens, but we’ve got high hopes for most of them.
Not only has J.J. Abrams assured parents that, despite the film’s PG-13 rating, the movie will leave kids feeling happy and uplifted, but during a press event last week, Kennedy pointed to the gathered actors and said, “these guys are getting ready to head over” to the set.
Episode VIII doesn’t yet have a title, but we know it’ll be directed by Rian Johnson. According to IMDb, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, and John Boyega are all returning, with Benicio Del Toro making his Star Wars debut.
Episode VIII hits cinemas on May 26, 2017.
2018-2019 – ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ and the Han Solo prequel
There are many more Star Wars films planned, with Kennedy saying that the schedule has been set “through 2019.”
The second anthology film (or “Star Wars Story,” as the prequels are officially called), will follow a young Han Solo, who is currently being cast. That movie is expected to be released on May 25, 2018 (exact date may change), directed by The Lego Movie‘s Christopher Miller and Phil Lord.
And then there’s Episode IX, the third and final film in the third (and final?) Star Wars trilogy.
Jurassic World‘s Colin Trevorrow has been set to direct the grand finale, which will be released in 2019. Trevorrow is currently working on the Jurassic World sequel(s), so we’ll have to keep an eye on his availability.
2020 and beyond…
Nothing is set in stone beyond 2019, but we know at least one more anthology film is in the works. In all likelihood, this is the rumored Boba Fett-centric prequel originally set for 2018, that Josh Trank was on board to direct before that whole Fantastic Four fiasco.
As far as we know, Disney switched it out for the Han Solo prequel, leaving the more difficult project for a later date. Not only do they have to find a new director, but the clone-turned-bounty hunter’s story is also the hardest to tell: the character is, of course, more obscure for general audiences, and the journey he took in both the prequels and original trilogy leaves little room for surprising plot twists.
Unlike Han Solo, Boba Fett is squarely a bad guy, and it’ll be hard to make him sympathetic (beyond seeing him lose his father in Attack of the Clones). Plus, taking his gruesome end into account, it’s going to be hard to make kids root for the guy. In fact, earlier this year a rumor suggested that Boba Fett will be a side-character in the Han Solo movie, rather than getting his own spin-off.
Following Disney and Lucasfilm’s tight schedule, we can expect this ambiguous film (if it ever happens) in 2020.
But first, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’! The movie debuts December 18 in the U.S.
— Hypable (@Hypable) December 10, 2015