The future of Star Wars is in a state of flux. While last week fans were high on the anticipation of Star Wars 9—which we now know is titled Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker—the excitement was undercut a tad when Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that after Skywalker, the films will be taking a bit of a hiatus. No new Star Wars movies are currently in production, and none are even in the preparation stages. Indeed, as Collider exclusively revealed last summer, Lucasfilm put a halt on plans for more spinoffs, like the Obi-Wan movie, following the box office disappointment of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
So what does the next phase of Star Wars look like? Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has been adamant that The Rise of Skywalker will bring an end to the Skywalker Saga, concluding the story that technically began with Episode I – The Phantom Menace and bringing an end to that particular arc.
Speaking with EW, Kennedy said that in looking at upcoming Star Wars movies, they’re not just thinking in terms of the next trilogy—they’re thinking longterm:
“We’re not just looking at what the next three movies might be, or talking about this in terms of a trilogy. We’re looking at: What is the next decade of storytelling?”
Kennedy said the creative braintrust will be mapping out a strategy, and central to that strategy are new film series from Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. We previously learned that Johnson was creating a new trilogy of Star Wars films focusing on new characters in a new setting, and Benioff and Weiss were separately hired to create their own new series of films. But Kennedy tells EW that Benioff and Weiss are actually working together with Johnson to plan out the future of the franchise:
“As they finish Game of Thrones, they’re going to segue into Star Wars,” Kennedy said. “They’re working very closely with Rian.”
Johnson is currently in post-production on his murder mystery movie Knives Out, but one imagines as Thrones wraps up in May and as Johnson gets closer to finishing his next movie, they’ll begin to hammer out the details of what each will be contributing to this galaxy far, far away.
However, when it comes to the timeline, that “a long time ago” part could be altered either way—a longer time ago, or a shorter time ago—with this next phase of Star Wars filmmaking, says Kennedy:
“Yes, absolutely. I think that that’s absolutely on the horizon,” she said. “We’re looking at whether we can move massively in one direction of the other. It’s still Star Wars, and holding on to the DNA of what George Lucas created is still very important to us. I think this is a huge opportunity to step into the galaxy in a little bit different part of the timeline.”
Stories set in the Lucas era will still abound in books, comics, and especially on the small screen, as the Jon Favreau-created Disney+ series The Mandalorian takes place after the events of Return of the Jedi and very much sounds like a show meant to appeal to longtime fans of Star Wars. But as the franchise approaches 45 years old, it makes sense for Kennedy and Co. to begin looking beyond what came before to find fresh avenues for storytelling. After all, you can’t keep milking Luke Skywalker forever.