With the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story impending, a lot of questions are about to be answered for Lucasfilm. Will casual moviegoers show up for a Star Wars movie that’s not part of the traditional chronology? Will Star Wars fans spark to a film without Jedi? These are all unknowns that have plagued Lucasfilm since the decision to move forward with what at first were called “anthology” films and are now known as “Star Wars Stories”. The idea being that in addition to Episode VII, VIII, and IX, the studio can churn out Star Wars spinoffs that take place in the same universe but don’t follow the story thread of the new trilogy.
Rogue One, which revolves around the events preceding A New Hope and revolves around the group that steals the Death Star plans, was the first idea to make it to fruition, and in a new piece at EW, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy reveals that the notion of “anthology” films actually came from George Lucas himself:
“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… 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.”
While Lucasfilm has a Young Han Solo movie set to begin filming in February with directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Kennedy said that the Han Solo spinoff wasn’t among Lucas’ ideas and declined to tease anything further. However, fans will remember that back when it was announced that these anthology films would exist, we learned that a Boba Fett spinoff was reportedly in the works. Indeed, Chronicle filmmaker Josh Trank was attached to direct the film with Simon Kinberg producing and writing the script, but Trank abruptly left/was fired from the project, and it’s since gone dormant.
However, the Boba Fett movie was far enough along that EW says Lucasfilm prepped a teaser reel of footage that was meant to debut at Star Wars Celebration 2015. That’s the event where Trank was suddenly removed from the panel for “future Star Wars movies”, and his exit from the Star Wars universe was made official only days later.
So what does the future hold for the Star Wars universe? Well, Kennedy revealed that there are plans to convene a summit of sorts in January to assess the success (or failure) of both The Force Awakens and Rogue One and decide how to proceed:
“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?”
But as of right now, the release schedule only goes so far as Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and probably the biggest question that Kennedy and her team will address relates to whether to continue making more Episode films with yet another trilogy, or if the Star Wars universe can subsist on mostly “A Star Wars Story” anthology films, which Kennedy says is a possibility:
“That’s a conversation going on right now, too. I have to honestly tell you, could we [do nothing but stand-alones]? Sure. But I don’t know. We are looking at all of that.”
The box office, critical, and audience reception of Rogue One will certainly aid in this decision-making, but it will definitely be interesting to see if the journey of Finn and Rey ends with Episode IX, if they’ll be folded into cameo or supporting roles in future standalone films, or if they’ll then pass the baton to a new crew for yet another new Star Wars trilogy. The possibilities are endless, which is part of the problem.