In just a few weeks, the middle installment of the current Star Wars trilogy – The Last Jedi – will open in theaters. And while fans will be flocking to see that film and start two years of speculation as to what the trilogy’s final installment will bring, Lucasfilm is already starting to plan beyond the current story being told.
In a statement today, it was announced that Last Jedi co-writer/director Rian Johnson will be in charge of charting a new Star Wars trilogy that will come to theaters after the current one concludes.
Lucasfilm is excited to announce that Johnson will create a brand-new Star Wars trilogy, the first of which he is also set to write and direct, with longtime collaborator Ram Bergman onboard to produce.
As writer-director of The Last Jedi, Johnson conceived and realized a powerful film of which Lucasfilm and Disney are immensely proud. In shepherding this new trilogy, which is separate from the episodic Skywalker saga, Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.
“We all loved working with Rian on The Last Jedi,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “He’s a creative force, and watching him craft The Last Jedi from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career. Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.”
“We had the time of our lives collaborating with Lucasfilm and Disney on The Last Jedi,” Johnson and Bergman said in a joint statement. “Star Wars is the greatest modern mythology and we feel very lucky to have contributed to it. We can’t wait to continue with this new series of films.”
No release date has been announced for the new films, but at the earliest, it will be four years before this hits theaters. Beyond Last Jedi’s opening this December 15, the Han Solo spinoff film Solo is set to open May 25, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX, which will be directed by JJ Abrams, is set for a December 20, 2019. A spinoff film featuring Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi has been rumored for a possible December 2020 release.
What’s interesting about this news is that it while a trilogy, this new film cycle would take place outside of the confines of the Skywalker family, the focus of all of the Star Wars films except last year’s spin-off Rogue One and next year’s Solo. It remains to be seen if any pre-existing characters will be part of this new story arc or when in the vast Star Wars timeline this new trilogy will take place.
Overall, despite the lack of details, this is very exciting news. First off, Lucasfilm and corporate overlord Disney must be very happy with Johnson’s work on the upcoming Last Jedi to have him lead up the next cycle of films for the franchise. Also, the idea that they will be moving away from the the SKywalker family to focus instead on “a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored,” sounds very promising. It is the kind of freshness that the franchise will need at that point, following six films that dealt with familiar characters and situations. The Star Wars galaxy has the potential to be pretty big but up until now has felt just a bit provincial. This sounds like the franchise is about to – to quote a certain character from the original Star Wars film – “take its first steps into a larger world.”