Well, those thousands of Facebook users who claim to have sabotaged Last Jedi’s RottenTomatoes score, planned to do the same for Black Panther before Facebook deactivated their group page, and will probably pop back up again in their quest to protest any and all Disney-run franchises aren’t gonna like this: Disney is making another Star Wars trilogy.
No, not the Rey-Kylo Ren one we’re currently in the home stretch of after Last Jedi.
No, not that Rian Johnson one we know nothing about.
No, not the planned trilogy of gap-filling standalone prequels that started with Rogue One and Solo and might yet include an Obi-Wan or Boba Fett movie (or might simply end with Solo).
No, now we’re talking about an entirely different trilogy to be written by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
That’s right, people. All Star Wars, all the time! Disney has a Star Wars theme park attraction to open, release slots and theater seats to fill, quarterly profits to boost, toy manufacturers to please, and an entire generation of capable filmmakers who only got into the business because of the way George Lucas inspired them back in the 70s. So, if J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson, and the Game of Thrones dudes want in on adding their own piece to the larger Star Wars story why would Disney ever so no to that?
However, for all of those less nerdy people who have lost track of which trilogy is which and who’s making what here’s a quick guide to Disney’s now-multiple Star Wars franchises:
Force Awakens–Last Jedi-Episode 9 These are the ones that continue the Skywalker saga of George Lucas’s movies. Force Awakens and Last Jedi, combined, have grossed nearly $4 billion. So, chances are you’re already familiar with these movies. J.J. Abrams is directing the final installment, due next year. Let’s move on.
Let’s back up.
Before Last Jedi even came out, LucasFilm announced it was continuing its partnership with Johnson on a new, non-Skywalker-connected trilogy of Star Wars movies (translation: it will be set in the Star Wars universe but have nothing to do with the earlier movies). Cheekily, Johnson joked on Twitter that now he really hoped people liked Last Jedi. He needn’t have worried, though. His film is as bold a piece of blockbuster filmmaking as you’ll ever see (well, at least outside of Blade Runner: 2049). Surely, the world will forgive the film’s minor flaws and…
Huh. Well, guess it’s a good thing he got that deal with LucasFilms in writing before all of, um, that.
In Johnson’s telling, he had such a good time working with LucasFilms on Last Jedi that some time near the end of production they mutually agreed to keep working together for many years to come on a new trilogy. Thus, the genesis here wasn’t a killer pitch for a new story but instead a “let’s just keep this going and figure out the story stuff as we go.” That’s not to say he didn’t actually have some idea for a new movie trilogy. LucasFilm wouldn’t have committed to him without some sense of where he wanted to take things. But, at this point, while they do plan to map out the trilogy before they ever start filming they’re so not even close to having that map completed yet.
In practical terms, the plan, as originally announced, is for Johnson to write and direct the first one and then possibly transition into a producing role while handing off directing duties on the next two. That may or may not still be the case, but one thing we do know for sure: this trilogy will NOT be an adaptation of Knights of the Old Republic. Sorry, XBox fans. That was a killer game in its day. Johnson knows. He played the hell out of it, but he wants to do something different with these movies.
The Standalone Spin-Offs
Disney spent a lot to buy LucasFilm. A LOT. As in, if they had turned super charitable and simply set that LucasFilm money aside for disaster relief they could be using it to help rebuild a not-insignificant chunk of Puerto Rico right now. But not everyone saw the fiscal wisdom in Disney CEO Bob Iger taking such a massive swing on George Lucas’s devalued old toys. So, in a bid to recoup costs and prove naysayers wrong Iger and LucasFilm head Kathleen Kennedy laid out a strategy of releasing one new Star Wars movie a year, with standalone prequels filling the gaps between new trilogy installments. That meant there needed to be standalones in 2016 and 2018, with an option for perhaps a third sometime after that. Rogue One and Solo obviously ended up being the standlones they went with, but at one point there was a bit of a bakeoff between Boba Fett, Yoda, and Obi-Won for the third slot.
Then Josh Trank turned his last name into a verb and tranked so hard on Fantastic Four that he was fired from what was believed to be the Boba Fett movie. The project seemed to die on the vine after that. At this point, there are no concrete plans for any further standalone entries beyond Solo, which itself underwent considerable production difficulties. Ditto for Rogue One. Really, LucasFilm has been having an uncommonly hard time with these things.
The Trilogy from the Game of Thrones Guys
We…know next to nothing about these. So, here are the quotes from the press release:
“David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy in a statement. “Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting.”
“In the summer of 1977 we traveled to a galaxy far, far away, and we’ve been dreaming of it ever since,” Benioff and Weiss said in a joint statement. “We are honored by the opportunity, a little terrified by the responsibility, and so excited to get started as soon as the final season of Game of Thrones is complete.”
That final GoT season is due next year. Too bad Emilia Clarke is already in Solo. If not, she could have traveled with Benioff and Weiss over to LucasFilms and become the new Rey for their trilogy, riding Star Wars-style dragons into battle.
The question at this point becomes whether or not we are building to a point where, as with Marvel Studios, Disney might start releasing more than one Star Wars movie per year. If so, how would that really work? Marvel’s movies are all set in the same universe and continuity whereas the Skywalker saga, Johnson trilogy, and GoT trilogy will exist in the same universe but not even necessarily in the same time period. Granted, Episode 9 will be out before either Johnson or Benioff and Weiss have their first film ready (or even in production). So, the real overlap is between Rian Johnson’s trilogy and Benioff and Weiss’s. Won’t it be extra confusing to go back and forth between two different trilogies, year to year? And if they switch over to releasing more than one of these a year will Star Wars movies lose their event status?
All practical considerations I’m sure they’ve yet to work out.
The upside (or downside, considering your level of GoT fandom): the Game of Thrones guys are making Star Wars movies!