What Can We Expect To See Next In The Disney And Star Wars Collaboration?

When Disney spent just over $4 billion buying the Star Wars franchise from its creator George Lucas in 2012, it was a franchise that hadn’t produced a film for over seven years, and that release (the end of the prequel trilogy) marked the end of a series that had received a decidedly mixed reception.

Some wondered if Disney had over-invested in the near forty-year-old franchise, but the corporation has shown previously that it knows how to succeed in this industry with successful investments in studios such as Pixar, and the highly successful Marvel Studios and its popular ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ franchise.


The Star Wars franchise awakens

The corporation immediately announced when buying the Star Wars franchise that there would be a trilogy of new films made, and the first of these arrived in spectacular style in December 2015 with the massively successful release of ‘The Force Awakens’. It’s proved great news for the company, for fans of the franchise and – as financial experts IG illustrate – for investors, too.

Borrowing perhaps from the way its Marvel Studios maps out its releases to make the most of the various ‘brands within a brand’ of their franchise, Disney has planned the Star Wars release schedule for the next five years at least.


A mix of main releases and spin-offs

The routine over the next five years is for further releases in the main series alternating with spin-offs. This means each year will see a Star Wars franchise film hit cinemas, but with two year breaks between each main range blockbuster.

2016 – A spin-off release is due at the end of the year; ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’. The storyline diverts from the main characters and portrays the events occurring between ‘Revenge of the Sith’ and ‘A New Hope’.

The late Peter Cushing, who appeared in the original ‘Star Wars’ film in 1977, will feature in ‘Rogue One’ thanks to advances in CGI.

2017 – This year sees Disney go back to the main sequence of films. The trilogy that began with ‘The Force Awakens’ continues in May 2017 with ‘Episode VIII’ arriving in cinemas.

2018 – The releases return to spin-offs again with the arrival in May – a year after ‘Episode VIII’ – of a film focusing on the young Han Solo. Auditions of suitable actors to play the young Han Solo are apparently in progress.

2019 – The main series returns with the conclusion of the trilogy started with ‘The Force Awakens’, when ‘Episode IX’ goes on general release.

2020 – The last film in this five year schedule will almost certainly be another spin off. So far, little is known about this and whether it will explore a character or a gap in the mythology’s timeline.

Rumoured future plans

Beyond 2020 is largely conjecture, but rumours include maybe splitting ‘Episode IX’ into two parts, which would give Disney more breathing space before moving into another trilogy of films. It would also help the corporation’s bottom line – two releases instead of one would generate even more dollars at the box office and keep the eager fans coming back for more.

Borrowing from the successful stewardship of the Marvel Studios franchise releases, running two or more series alongside the main franchise might be an option. Marvel does this by releasing films under the ‘Captain America’ and ‘Thor’ titles alongside its main ‘Avengers’ franchise. It’s certainly feasible, as the schedule of alternating spin-offs with a main series over the next five years shows.

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James Banham
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James Banham

Editor at THE F
James Banham is an Australian lifestyle, fashion and entertainment journalist. His writing can be found on these many topics and more in print and online publications around the country.
James Banham
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