Seven things we learned from Kathy Kennedy about the future of Star Wars movies – including updates on projects by Taika Waititi, Patty Jenkins, Rian Johnson, and Kevin Feige!

Vanity Fair recently ran an article on the future of Star Wars that was largely focused on the shows coming to Disney+, and that makes sense. In many ways the future of the franchise is aimed at streaming, at least in the near future, with tons of shows in various stages of development.

But since this is Star Wars, and the franchise has its undeniable roots deeply entrenched in theatrical films, the article touched on what the future of that will look like. Less details were provided on that front, but there were still several takeaways – that were elaborated on further in the full interview with Kennedy that was posted. I’ll mention seven!

1. The first is that the next Star Wars film will likely be Taika Waititi‘s project. He began writing it in the summer of 2020 and turned his attention toward it late summer 2021. No release date had been announced for it, but it’s apparently in line to now be the next one released in theaters. Star Wars has kept a release date for December 22, 2023, so perhaps this will be it.

2. With that being the case, the article also confirms the obvious implication: Rogue Squadron, directed by Patty Jenkins, is “further off.” That was reported last fall but never officially confirmed, and this seems like the closest we’ve gotten to such a confirmation. According to Kennedy, “Rogue Squadron…we kind of pushed off to the side for the moment. Patty is developing the script further. Then we will talk about how that connects to the central spine that we’re working on.” That’s not exactly the most encouraging update, but it also is confirmation that they’re still in progress on it. The script seems to be the biggest thing right now, but it’s also extremely intriguing that the mentions wanting to talk about how it fits into the “central spine” that they’re working on. Might these upcoming projects be connected more than we thought?

3. Waititi and Jenkins are big-name directors who have had plenty of success, and they aren’t the only notable people to have been attached to projects in the galaxy far, far away. Maybe the biggest name is Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, who was reported in 2019 to have been working with Kathy Kennedy on a Star Wars project, which was seemingly confirmed by Alan Horn, the head of Disney Studios. Later that year, Kennedy seemed to suggest that it was still in the very early stages of development. But by January 2021 the project was reported to have a writer, Michael Waldron, who in August 2021 talked about his excitement in working on it. Yet now, it seems, Feige might not be working on it? It’s a bit confusing. Kennedy said, “I would love to see what movie he might come up with. But right now, no, there isn’t anything specifically.” It’s an odd one because even though the Feige film was never officially announced, it also was much clearer than mere rumors. Those comments almost read like it’s never really materialized, though. So we’ll see… it’s understandable that Feige’s pretty busy with the MCU, but right now at least it sounds like that Star Wars movie isn’t in active development.

4. Neither is Rian Johnson‘s trilogy. That was officially announced, back in 2017 shortly before the release of The Last Jedi. Johnson was tapped to create a trilogy of films in a brand new era of Star Wars, and there have been rumors off and on in the years since then about the state of this project. It’s worth quoting Kennedy’s comments in full here:

Rian has been unbelievably busy with Knives Out and the deal that he made at Netflix for multiple movies. I’ve had meetings with Rian; he’s somebody that’s come in as part of our little brain trust discussions along the way. He remains very committed to what it is we’re trying to do. He just literally hasn’t had the time to devote. That’s what I’m saying: Anyone who comes into the Star Wars universe needs to know that it’s a three, four, five-year commitment. That’s what it takes. You can’t step in for a year and shoot something and then walk away. It just doesn’t work that way. So it requires that kind of nurturing.

To me, this suggests two things: first, that this isn’t a project that we should expect to see anytime soon. But second, it sounds like they still want to make it happen. To those who think Lucasfilm scrapped it, that wouldn’t make sense given that they’re still consulting with Johnson. And the fact that they’re still talking like this indicates just how much they want to make it work.

5. Kennedy really wants filmmakers to commit to multiple years. You see a hint of that in her answer about Rian Johnson, but it goes even further. “There’s a couple of [filmmakers] that we’ve been in conversation with over quite a long period of time that I’m hoping will come in and make the overall commitment that Jon [Favreau] and Dave [Filoni] have made,” Kennedy said, referring to a multi-year commitment. “That’s ideally what I would love to see happen in the feature space.” In response to a different question in the interview, she elaborated more on the commitment Jon Favreau has made: “With Jon Favreau and the TV side, we’ve gotten very fortunate that he’s made the long-term commitment. I would love to find somebody on the feature side that would make that kind of a long-term commitment. There’s a couple of people I’m pretty close to that we may get there, but it’s such a competitive landscape right now that availability, exclusivity, those kind of ideas [make it] tough.” So look for the people who are working on Star Wars in the coming years to be bought in for the long haul. That’s clearly what Kennedy wants.

6. In all of this, Kennedy says that “we have a road map” in the theatrical plan moving forward, but that it likely won’t follow the same release cadence as previously. That’s not surprising, as that’s been publicly acknowledged by both Disney and Lucasfilm leadership. They were putting out a new movie each year (compare that to George Lucas, who did one every three years – and took a long break in-between trilogies), and they won’t be doing that any more. The latest Disney release slots have Star Wars with a new theatrical release every other December, starting in 2023, and I think that’s a pretty reasonable estimate for what we’ll see moving forward – especially with the focus on streaming in addition to it.

7. Finally, it sounds like the movies that do get released won’t be bound by the three movie trilogy that Star Wars has been accustomed to. “I hesitate to use the word trilogies anymore because Star Wars is much more about persistent storytelling,” Kennedy said. That’s what they’re doing both with the shows and the movies, and it gives them more creative freedom on how best to tell that story, whether that’s shorter or longer than a typical trilogy would allow.

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