If you tuned into Star Wars Celebration last week hoping to get lots of updates on Lucasfilm’s upcoming slate of films set in the galaxy far, far away, you likely came away very disappointed. We learned virtually nothing new about the three films currently in development during the four-day conference in Anaheim. Instead, the Disney+ series were the real stars of the show, with The Mandalorian season 3, Andor, Ahsoka, The Bad Batch, and new animated series Tales of the Jedi taking top billing. There was even a new Star Wars video game announced over the weekend, but not a single thing about the medium that birthed the franchise in the first place.
What gives? Well, it’s no secret that things are a little hazy in terms of when we might actually get another Star Wars film. With Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron film pushed out of its original Dec. 2023 release date (reportedly due to creative differences with the script), the movie Taika Waititi is developing with Krysty Wilson-Cairns will now be the next Star Wars picture we watch on the big screen. But this project hasn’t set a release date in stone, either. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told Total Film that the studio was aiming for “late 2023,” but that they “hadn’t locked anything in.”
Then there’s the Marvel boss Kevin Feige and Loki creator Michael Waldron’s secret Star Wars movie, which hasn’t even been officially announced. Waldron revealed a few weeks ago that the film will be a standalone adventure “that’s not necessarily a sequel” and “doesn’t have a bunch of TV shows and movies that you’re servicing on top of it.” But it’s early days for this project, which means you shouldn’t expect it in theaters any time soon.
So the fact that Lucasfilm didn’t bring any movie announcements or trailers or castings to this year’s Celebration makes sense. That said, Kennedy did reveal one vital detail about these future Star Wars movies during Celebration, just not at any of the panels.
Speaking to Empire over the weekend, Kennedy revealed when on the in-universe Star Wars timeline these upcoming movies will likely take place. Spoiler: Waititi, Jenkins, and Feige’s films could be set around and beyond the Sequel Trilogy.
“We’re moving further beyond the existing sequels as we look to our movie space,” she told Empire. “The sequel era] is what we talk a lot about in terms of where we’re going with our movies, and just how far out from that we’ll go. That’s very much the space we’re concentrating on.”
Kennedy reiterated this to Total Film, saying that there was “no hesitancy” to explore past the Skywalker Saga: “We need to create a whole new saga. That takes a lot. There’s a lot of conversation around that.”
The original announcement for Rogue Squadron teased that the movie would “move the saga into the future era of the galaxy,” implying even back then that Lucasfilm was ready to tell stories set after The Rise of Skywalker, but here Kennedy seems to be suggesting that this is the plan for all of the films in development. There’s precedent for Star Wars exploring eras far beyond its original Skywalker Saga characters, of course. The now non-canon Legends continuity stretched to over a hundred years after the Original Trilogy, introducing the descendants of both Luke and Leia as well as all new characters, Sith villains, and galactic conflicts.
But will Disney take that big a risk with its own Star Wars canon? Could setting a film so far beyond any recognizable characters alienate movie audiences who just want more of the heroes and villains they know and love? Lucasfilm is currently testing the waters with The High Republic, a line of books and comics set 200 years before The Phantom Menace when the Skywalkers and Palpatines of the galaxy weren’t even around yet (as far as we know). While several High Republic novels have topped best-seller lists, suggesting there is an appetite for Star Wars to break away from the familiar, the real test will be The Acolyte, an upcoming Disney+ series set in the High Republic era — but only 100 years before the films, meaning the studio will likely still be able to include a few cameos in there. A 700-year-old Master Yoda has already appeared in The High Republic comics, for example.
If the current era of cameo-heavy Disney+ shows is any indication, it’s more likely these post-Sequel movies would be set just far enough away from Resistance and First Order drama to move past that trilogy’s baggage, but still close enough that the door would be open to fan-favorite characters. Would Lucasfilm really make a post-Episode IX Rogue Squadron film that doesn’t at least feature a cameo from Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron? Seems hard to believe.
While we wait to hear more about the future of Star Wars movies, you can check out our complete schedule of upcoming films and TV series set in the galaxy far, far away here.