What’s going on with the future of Star Wars standalone movies?

If you’ve been following Star Wars news over the last week, you’ll know that there has been quite the commotion over the future of the standalone movies.

With Solo: A Star Wars Story not performing nearly as well at the box office as expected, many capitalized on that to express concern for the future of Star Wars, particularly about the future of those spinoff movies.  But is that actually going to happen?

Last Wednesday, Collider’s Steve Weintraub reported that the spinoff films were on hold at Lucasfilm, writing:

It may be a while before we see any more movies like Solo: A Star Wars Story out of Lucasfilm. Sources with knowledge of the situation tell Collider that Lucasfilm has decided to put plans for more A Star Wars Story spinoff movies on hold, instead opting to focus their attention on Star Wars: Episode IX and what the next trilogy of Star Wars films will be after that film. Sources tell us that the previously rumored Obi-Wan movie was in active development, but those who were working on the film are no longer involved. It was recently reported that Logan filmmaker James Mangold was in early talks to write and direct the Boba Fett film, but that was before Solo’s release.

That of course got the Star Wars community talking, but it doesn’t seem to actually be the whole truth.

The following day, Making Star Wars’ Jason Ward came out with further clarification that sheds some light on what’s going on: it’s not all spinoff movies that were tabled, but rather just one.  He writes:

It sounds like this particular rumor permeated because studio space at Pinewood Studios that was reserved for upcoming Star Wars films was recently relinquished. When that happened, it appears people in the some circles at Pinewood also assumed it meant doom and gloom for the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett films. Well, after speaking to a few more Pinewood sources, it sounds like there was going to be a movie or a premise along the lines of Mos Eisley Spaceport: A Star Wars Story (not an official title). Crew members of the previous Star Wars film said they believed the other movie was about the spaceport Luke Skywalker goes into the original film. In other words, my sources are saying this movie we never even heard about was canned or postponed and it does not mean the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett films are doomed.

That same day, ABC’s Clayton Sandell cited Lucasfilm sources who refuted Collider’s original report:

Lucasfilm sources on Thursday characterized as “inaccurate” a report that future “Star Wars” movies falling outside of the regular trilogy storyline (Episodes I to IX) have been put on hold in the wake of the box office under-performance of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

Instead, Lucasfilm told ABC News there are still “multiple” Star Wars films currently in development that have not been officially announced. Those projects are moving forward separate from an already-announced “Star Wars” trilogy being overseen by “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson and another series of movies from “Game of Thrones” producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

Entertainment Weekly’s Anthony Breznican also seemed to indicate on Twitter that the report of Star Wars canceling the spinoff films was false, and the Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit also stated that Lucasfilm isn’t giving up on those films:

“They haven’t slowed down development,” says a source with knowledge of Lucasfilm’s thinking, “but they are licking their wounds.”

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and her team are regrouping and figuring out the direction of the movies beyond the final installment of the main series of films, Star Wars: Episode IX, which is scheduled for release Dec. 20, 2019.

“It doesn’t mean those spinoffs don’t happen,” says another insider of Solo‘s underperformance globally. “It just means they’re trying to figure out how to make, and market, them differently.”

Specifically, Kit reports that the Boba Fett movie is still in production, though Lucasfilm may be reconfiguring how to go about it.

So what’s really going on with the Star Wars spinoff films?

(1) Well it seems, first of all, that they haven’t been killed entirely, and while Collider didn’t exactly report that they were, the report certainly carried with it that implication.  What it sounds like instead is that perhaps Star Wars is going to be a bit more cautious and meticulous with spinoff plans moving forward, in wake of the perceived ‘failure’ of Solo.  Lucasfilm is right to attempt to learn whatever lessons possible from what happened with Solo in an attempt to be even better moving forward.   Additionally, Lucasfilm is right to put the main focus on Episode IX, which begins filming later this summer and which is the culmination not only of the sequel trilogy but of the Skywalker saga.  The film is a BIG DEAL, and the next film due out, and therefore nobody should be surprised that the focus is currently on that movie.

(2) That doesn’t mean, however, that all other projects are being halted.  In fact, just recently Tom Kane mentioned that there are nine Star Wars films in development currently, and assuming he’s right about that, that obviously means way more than just Episode IX.  We already know about Rian Johnson’s new trilogy of films and the series of films from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and then there’s the reported Boba Fett spinoff movie and the ever-rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi project.

(3) It’s also important to note that films that aren’t even officially announced yet being ‘scrapped’ is no huge deal.  Whereas Lucasfilm has already announced Johnson’s trilogy and the films from Benioff and Weiss (and therefore to not go forward with those would be a stunning reversal), Lucasfilm has not publicly said a thing regarding any potential future spinoff movies.  But Kathleen Kennedy and her team are always looking for various ideas and stories to be told in the Star Wars universe (that’s how Rogue One came to be), so I’m sure that they have plenty of things that they’ve considered for spinoff movies.  That doesn’t mean that they’re going to go through with all of them, however.  So, for instance, when Making Star Wars reports about an apparent Mos Eisley film being scrapped (which doesn’t exactly sound like the most intriguing spinoff film Lucasfilm could make in the first place), that’s not a huge deal.  It wasn’t ever announced.

(4) So really, this report is only a big deal in so far as it represents a philosophical shift from Kennedy and Lucasfilm – which is what Collider’s report seemed to indicate.  The other reports, however, have refuted that said philosophical shift is taking place.  As best we can tell at the moment, after synthesizing these reports and the data available, it seems that Lucasfilm is not doing away with all plans for spinoff movies at the time being.  Therefore, at most what seems to be happening is an awareness of some things to do differently (which is good) and the fluidity of unannounced projects (which is normal).  Nothing to freak out about.

(5) What we don’t know yet, however, is what this means for the spinoff movies that are already reported or rumored – namely, the Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi films.  In May the Boba Fett film was reported as happening by the Hollywood Reporter (with a director and writer attached), and last week they maintained that the film is still moving forward.  However, the report indicated that Lucasfilm may go about it differently, since a movie about one of the most recognizable characters (and far more well-known than Boba Fett) in Star Wars failed.  While drawing a straight line between those two things doesn’t seem entirely appropriate, nonetheless it seems that the Boba Fett movie is still a go at this point.  What about Kenobi?  Well, that’s been the question practically since the plans for standalone movies were announced, and we’re still waiting.  There have been rumblings, but as of yet those don’t seem to have panned out or amounted to anything.  But if Lucasfilm is really concerned about the marketability of characters, it seems they couldn’t do much better than bringing Ewan McGregor back to reprise his role of Obi-Wan Kenobi.  But we’ll just have to wait and see.

(6) At the end of the day, Lucasfilm has time to figure things out.  Episode IX doesn’t release until December 2019, and after that they have already announced plans for Johnson’s trilogy and the films from Benioff and Weiss, albeit with no release dates yet.  So there’s plenty of time to sift through the future of standalone movies.  Basically, what it seems like is that Lucasfilm is going to be even more meticulous in thinking through these films, which can only be a good thing.  While I don’t want the standalone films to be killed, it doesn’t seem like that’s the case.  Rather, Lucasfilm is going to learn from any mistakes with Solo and decide what stories they want to tell moving forward.  And they needn’t be in any rush to announce what those stories are.

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