In less than one month, the future of the Star Wars franchise might be on the line.
Rogue One will be a new start for the galaxy far, far away. One on hand, it can kick-start an entire new campaign of spinoff and single film projects. On the other hand, it could signal the end of the Skywalker saga.
So far, all we’ve known is the journey of Anakin Skywalker followed by his son, Luke. Even though he only appeared at the end of Episode VII, the presence of ‘Clan Skywalker’ was scattered throughout. Now, with Rogue One only three weeks away, a new family is coming to the cinematic forefront… the Erso’s.
It was originally seen as a gamble on the part of Disney and Lucasfilm to release a movie outside of the episodic series we’ve seen so far. However, with early projections leading towards a $130-million opening weekend, it appears they’ve made the right call. So, what happens if the film is an absolute box office beast? Could that lead to a focus on spinoffs, or standalone original stories? As Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly, those discussions are already occuring.
“That’s a conversation going on right now, too. I have to honestly tell you, could we [do nothing but standalones]? Sure. But I don’t know. We are looking at all of that.”
That is a bombshell. Right now we know we’re at least getting Episode IX. However, with things up in the air, could Colin Trevorrow be the last person to direct a Skywalker-led story? Sure, there are plenty of other stories that could be told (Kenobi, The Old Republic, etc.)… but the focus has always been on the continuing saga and how other stories fit that mold. It seems like Lucasfilm might be looking to change that, and focus on familiar canon we already know and love.
“We are planning to sit down in January, since we will have had The Force Awakens released, now Rogue One, and we’ve finished shooting Episode VIII. We have enough information where we can step back a little bit and say, ‘What are we doing? What do we feel is exciting? And what are some of the things we want to explore?’”
The list of potential spinoffs and additional stories are seemingly endless. Disney has already committed to a Han Solo project set to be released in May 2018. There’s also the long-rumored Boba Fett movie and perhaps additional stories tied to Rogue One (depending on who survives the mission to steal the Death Star plans). There’s also the tales of Obi-Wan Kenobi, something Ewan Mcgregor has previously expressed interest in.
More than just the types of stories that could be told, there is a resurgence of Star Wars fandom. Toy sales are expected to be dominated by the franchise this holiday season. There’s also a line of young and talented directors who are lining up at the opportunity to work on a Star Wars film. Gareth Edwards, Rian Johnson, Phil Lord/Chris Miller… these are all visually different directors set to expand the Star Wars Universe with their own vision. Not having to stick with the episodic trilogies will keep the movies fresh and unique.
“I think that that’s exciting for fans. It’s certainly exciting as a filmmaker, the notion that we can explore these stories that genuinely have a beginning, middle and an end, and don’t necessarily have to tie into something specific.”
If these spinoff movies are going to be successful (and from the look of Rogue One that’s a certainty), it makes you wonder why it took so long to create a standalone film in the first place. As Kennedy continued, the idea for different spinoff movies isn’t anything new. In fact, they were originally pitched by the Godfather of Star Wars himself… George Lucas.
“George talked to me about doing this when I first came aboard. He had often thought about doing it and he had actually written down three or four thoughts and ideas, directions you could go. Obviously inside the mythology there were lots of opportunities. So that was the first conversation I had.”
She went on to say that the upcoming Han Solo movie was not one of Lucas’ “three or four thoughts.” It would be interesting to hear George’s original spinoff ideas, especially to see if Disney and Lucasfilm are running with some of these concepts. Sure, his original vision for Episode VII was scrapped by J.J. Abrams, but clearly, the man who created this universe can still deliver at least one spinoff that fits in with the new Star Wars mythos.
So, Rogue One just keeps adding more weight to its shoulders. Not only will the movie determine if an annual Star Wars film could work, but its success could dictate the future of the entire franchise. If Jyn Erso thought failing the rebellion was a tough enough mission, imagine what will happen if Gareth Edwards fails the millions of Star Wars fans around the world! It’s too late to turn back now, so we’ll see how everything plays out on December 16th.