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The Return and Future of Star Wars

By Kelson Howerton
On February 1, 2018

With at least eight films in the works, Star Wars is not going anywhere for the time being.
Photo Courtesy of Disney

Over 40 years after the theatrical release of “A New Hope,” Star Wars is back and bigger than ever. Coming off the heels of the massive commercial hit “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Star Wars is still one of the largest film franchises to hit the industry, with little signs of slowing down. Now under new management – Walt Disney Studios – the beloved sci-fi franchise has returned to a great reception, delighting fans with a host of new films and other media, with more on the horizon. 

Buying Lucasfilm from Star Wars creator George Lucas for over $4 billion in 2012, Disney wasted no time in breathing new life into the beloved sci-fi franchise after its unfortunate death with the critically divisive prequel trilogy. Releasing the much-anticipated first of a new trilogy of Star Wars stories – Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens – Disney delighted fans with a nostalgic return to the familiar Skywalker saga. 

With three films in the books, Disney has far from finished the franchise. On May 25, the second of the anthology films “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” hits theaters, telling the story of the origins of the fan-favorite smuggler turned Rebel general, Han Solo. While the film’s development has hit some snags along the way, including Disney’s decision to part ways with original directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the film is back on track thanks to the direction of film veteran Ron Howard. With a star-studded cast of Alden Ehrenreich as Han, Donald Glover as the gambler Lando Calrissian, and Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson as original characters, “Solo” is not short of talent. 

In 2019, “Force Awakens” director JJ Abrams returns one last time to wrap up the new trilogy with “Star Wars: Episode IX.” Writing alongside screenwriter Chris Terrio, Abrams’s last Star Wars film will tie up all of the loose threads left by Johnson’s divisive episode and may end the story of the Skywalker family for good. 

Star Wars franchise still anticipates at least six potential films, with a brand-new trilogy and three more anthology films currently in the works. Shortly before the release of “The Last Jedi,” Disney Lucasfilm announced a new trilogy helmed by Rian Johnson, telling a Star Wars story existing in a far corner of the galaxy never explored in the franchise. Essentially a blank slate, the first of the films in this trilogy will be written and directed by Johnson who may then pass the director’s chair to another. However, this trilogy will undoubtedly be years from now.  

In the more immediate future, the next anthology film to follow “Solo” might be an unnamed Obi-Wan Kenobi film. Still in early development, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” director Stephen Daldry may direct the film. However, it is still uncertain whether Star Wars veteran Ewan McGreggor will reprise his role as the titular character. In addition to this, Disney is currently mulling over two more anthology films, one following scorned bounty hunter Boba Fett and one following Frank Oz’s beloved Jedi Master Yoda. 

While films make up the bulk of the Star Wars fanbase, Disney has also continued to expand the universe with a hearty helping of books, comics, and a handful of TV series. Disney XD’s popular animated series “Star Wars Rebels” is soon ending, with the second half of the final season premiering February 19, with the series finale airing on March 5; however, a new series is expected to be announced before the year is over. 

No matter what comes, Disney has no plans to slow down the Star Wars train anytime soon, as the name alone has made the company an astronomical amount of profits in the short time the studio has owned the license. If the Marvel films tell anything, it would not be a surprise if we were still watching Star Wars films in 2028.

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