It’s safe to say no one knows what the heck is going on with The Mandalorian season 4 now that Lucasfilm has announced a feature-length movie starring the beloved duo and directed by showrunner Jon Favreau. Has the fourth season of the show been replaced by the film? Not according to Deadline, which reports The Mandalorian season 4 is still in development in addition to the movie. With the film being fast-tracked into production this year, does this mean season 4 has been delayed until further notice? Or will it be filmed at some point this year as well?
Well, according to reports from reliable Star Wars scoopers Bespin Bulletin and Making Star Wars, The Mandalorian season 4 is indeed still a go, but the rumor is that Disney’s plan is for a fourth season to release ahead of the movie. But instead of the normal eight-episode season, season 4 would be only six episodes, with The Mandalorian & Grogu essentially acting as the season 4 finale.
Now, we should note that these rumors don’t completely gel with THR‘s own report over the weekend that, while all the season 4 scripts have indeed been written, there’s no certainty Lucasfilm will move forward with a new season of the show at all. According to the outlet, the movie is taking precedence, and if it’s a success, movie sequels could be green Iit instead of more seasons.
But if the rumors are true and a season 4 precursor to a movie is the new release strategy for The Mandalorian, a show that’s thrived on Disney+ and is the most-watched streaming original on the market, it’s frankly a bit bizarre, and evidence that the Mouse House still hasn’t learned from its recent failures with the MCU. The Mandalorian may be incredibly popular, but it’s become increasingly apparent that audiences have grown tired of the “homework” that now comes with shared universe storytelling. One only has to look back at November’s The Marvels, which starred characters who were first introduced on streaming series, to see that general audiences outside of the more hardcore Marvel fandom are turned off by the thought of having to watch a bunch of TV shows first to understand what’s going on in a movie that costs $20-ish a ticket.
Even if you don’t actually need to know very much about what happened in Ms. Marvel in order to follow Kamala Khan’s story in The Marvels, the problem is the perception that you do. By breaking up The Mandalorian into pieces across the big and small screens, Lucasfilm risks making the same mistake with its biggest Star Wars property since the Sequels. General audiences simply don’t want to experience stories this way. It was perhaps an easier ask when folks only needed to worry about catching up on the movies themselves, but it’s clear they don’t want to feel forced to first invest hours watching TV episodes before being able to go to cinemas.
The shared universe approach didn’t even really work for Star Wars when The Mandalorian crossed over with its own spinoff, the mediocre The Book of Boba Fett. One scroll through Google Trends at the time of The Mandalorian season 3 revealed there were lots of people who had no idea that Din and Grogu had reunited on a completely different show and were searching Google for answers. Viewers who were only really interested in tuning into the main show that they already loved rightfully expected that the famous Mando season 2 cliffhanger would be resolved in the third season of the same show. Instead, they had to read explainers like this one (in fact, this was one of our top-performing Star Wars articles of 2023) in order to catch up because Lucasfilm didn’t even include a recap of what happened in Boba Fett.
In other words, when Disney doubles down on this sort of cross media shared storytelling, it risks alienating its audience further. Recent history suggests that fans who only follow the movies won’t be too sweet on the idea of having to first watch four seasons of The Mandalorian (and a few episodes of Boba Fett) before sitting down to watch The Mandalorian & Grogu, which is likely to be the first Star Wars movie in almost a decade by the time it releases. And viewers who are used to just waiting for new The Mandalorian episodes to drop on Disney+ may just wait for the movie to hit streaming anyway, rather than hand over the extra cash to watch it in theaters.
It just doesn’t make very much sense to divide The Mandalorian up like this, and it makes the concept of a Star Wars movie feel a lot smaller, too. While past Star Wars films were treated like groundbreaking events at the cinemas, the first new movie in years would be relegated to just being a longer episode of television. If The Book of Boba Fett and The Marvels fiascos prove anything, it’s that studios shouldn’t be working this hard to make it more difficult for audiences to enjoy things they already love. Or make them feel less important. Please let these latest rumors be just that and nothing more. This is the way.
No release dates have been set for either The Mandalorian season 4 or The Mandalorian & Grogu at this time. Check out the confirmed schedule of upcoming Star Wars movies and TV series here.