These are not the films you are looking for...
The force is definitely strong in the franchise - last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens rebooted a cinematic legacy with a particularly rocky past. Somewhere between the Star Wars Holiday Special and Attack of the Clones it looked as if the Skywalker space opera had lost its way. Thankfully under J.J. Abrams tutelage, Star Wars was steered in the right direction and we can expect it for many years to come. The updated cinematic slate for the franchise reveals that we will see another five films between now and 2020, so hold on to your butts...here we go!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16, 2016)
Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker
Who's Behind It: Gareth Edwards (Director) Chris Weitz, Gary Whitta (Writers)
Plot: Following the foundation of the Galactic Empire, a wayward band of Rebel fighters comes together to carry out a desperate mission: to steal the plans for the Death Star before it can be used to enforce the Emperor's rule
Expect a fully functioning Death Star (pre-destruction) as well as the reappearance of Grand Moff Tarkin. Prepare to get the 'feels' with some well earned nostalgia in a film set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Rogue One is the ultimate homage to The Dirty Dozen/Saving Private Ryan. Several characters from the original trilogy (including Mon Mothma) will be back, so could a newly formed Darth Vader be popping by? If you have been hiding under a rock and still haven't seen the trailer, check it out below:
Star Wars: Episode 8 (December 15, 2017)
Starring: Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Kellie Marie Tran, Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern
Who's Behind It: Rian Johnson (Director and Writer)
Plot: Pushed back from a May 26, 2017 release date, little-to-nothing is known about the plot for Episode VIII, but Daisy Ridley confirmed it would pick up exactly where Episode VII left off:
Me and Mark have been rehearsing a lot, it’s really amazing because when we went back to Skilleg to do the opening of VIII, it was so crazy doing the same scene with a different crew of people, but he’s (Mark) amazing to rehearse with and I’m very excited to do the rest of the stuff. It’s such a good story, seriously, Luke is so cool in this one, really!
Both Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley seem to be getting on pretty well, with him even tweeting this behind-the-scenes image of the two to celebrate her 24th birthday!
The original cast (beside Harrison Ford- for now) are returning, joined by newcomers Kellie Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro. Presumably we will explore more of Rey's family history (although not much), as well as some Yoda-esque Jedi training from Luke Skywalker and the reuniting of Finn and Rey. Johnson has promised a 'darker' film; why, is a lightsaber through the chest not dark enough?
Star Wars Anthology: Han Solo (May 25, 2018)
Who's Behind It: Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Directors), Lawrence and Jon Kasdan (Writers)
Plot: The story focuses on how young Han Solo became the smuggler, thief, and scoundrel whom Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at Mos Eisley
Uh-oh did you say Star Wars prequel *cough* Phantom Menace *cough*
The word prequel once struck fear into the hearts of Star Wars fanboys worldwide, but if the Rogue One trailer is anything to go by, it looks like Disney has learnt from Lucas' mistakes. This is the one we have all been waiting for, to see what makes the galaxy's biggest Nerf herder tick.
Thankfully we appear to be in safe hands with Lego Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, they told Starwars.com about their love of the franchise:
This is the first film we’ve worked on that seems like a good idea to begin with. We promise to take risks, to give the audience a fresh experience, and we pledge ourselves to be faithful stewards of these characters who mean so much to us. This is a dream come true for us. And not the kind of dream where you’re late for work and all your clothes are made of pudding, but the kind of dream where you get to make a film with some of the greatest characters ever, in a film franchise you’ve loved since before you can remember having dreams at all
We are promised an early 20s Han, so there will be no Jake Lloyd fiasco from Phantom. Let's image the Hayden Christensen vibe, but without the grumpy teen angst. Last month it was reported that we are now down to Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!), Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction) and Taron Egerton (The Kingsman) to play a young Han. Expect to find out very soon who can make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.
Star Wars: Episode IX (2019)
Starring: Daisy Ridley
Who's Behind It: Colin Trevorrow (Director) Rian Johnson (Writer)
Plot: As Supreme Leader Snoke puts his plans for a third Death Star in place, an old friend returns to squash the rebellion. Jar Jar Binks assumes his place atop the Galactic Empire to gain control of the galaxy. With Princess Leia now trapped as Jar Jar's sex slave, it is up to the reanimated spirit of Han Solo (inside a droid) to take down the Empire in a final battle
LOL JK. If you think details are sketchy on Episode VIII, then expect virtually nothing on Episode IX.
Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow takes over from Rian Johnson's directing duties, but Johnson will still be there as a writer. Thankfully, just like Miller and Lord are clearly Star Wars buffs, it seems like Trevorrow is too:
When George Lucas made Star Wars, a lot of people thought it was crazy." When you try to pitch what that movie's about -- if you've never heard of Star Wars before, you say, ‘Here's a character. His father's part robot, but he can also do magic. And there's a guy who can fly in a spaceship. He's got a dog for a friend!' -- it sounds insane...But it's the greatest story ever told. I just want to embrace that kind of invention and creativity that he brought to it
Although Trevorrow will direct IX and Johnson VIII, the two are apparently working very closely together to presumably flesh out a proper story and ending to the 'new' trilogy. The only news on casting is that Daisy Ridley is confirmed! Serving as this trilogy's Luke Skywalker, Rey's story was always intended to span three films, but could this spell trouble for John Boyega's Finn and could Trevorrow pull a Han Solo on him? Obviously most of the cast from episodes VII-VIII are likely to return in some form, we just don't have a clue who yet. Music legend John Williams has also said he hopes to return to score the music for the film - I mean what is Star Wars without John Williams? It is like Vader without a helmet!
Star Wars Anthology: Boba Fett- ?!? (2020)
Starring: Tom Hiddleston (?), Idris Elba (?), Chris Pine (?)
Who's Behind It: Not Josh Trank!
Plot: Write it yourself
With more mystery surrounding it than a DC movie slate, Disney has really pulled the rug from underneath us with this one. We aren't even sure if the 2020 anthology film will be based on Star Wars' deadly Bounty Hunter, but ever since Boba Fett was dropped into the stomach of the Sarlaac, we have been craving more!
Josh Trank was originally tipped to direct the mystery-standalone project, but has since departed, maybe it has something to do with his disastrous Fantastic Four reboot. Whilst Lucasfilm still won't pass comment on the development, perhaps it is for the best. However, it was confirmed that the Trank film would have been a Boba Fett story, so with Trank gone, has the idea gone too? Producer Kathleen Kennedy reassured us:
It’s still one of the stories that we absolutely want to tell...There is a lot of innovative technology in and around what it is we’re doing with that story, so for a lot of reasons, we were comfortable postponing that. But we’re definitely still developing it
It is never really clear how or why Boba is such a popular character, especially when he only speaks four lines in The Empire Strikes Back. Lucas stated that if he had known that the character would have been so popular, he would have given him a more memorable death. For those wondering how a Boba film could work - well in the expanded Star Wars universe he didn't actually die. In fact he makes from the stomach of the Sarlaac and a miraculous escape into the desert with just a broken arm and some damaged armour. You can check out a fan video by Eric Demeusy below:
So there we have it, a film a year for the next five years. Something tells me this is just the start. With spin-offs and anthologies aplenty, along with animated TV versions, it looks like Star Wars is $4.05 billion well spent by Disney. It is certain that the Star Wars franchise is set to run and run, much longer than a Galactic Empire.