At CinemaCon today, Disney revealed plans to release new Star Wars films each summer beginning in 2015. The plan isn’t to go Episode VII, VIII, IX in three years but, rather, to run spinoff films in-between the major “episode releases” every two or three years. This is consistent with earlier reports of plans for spinoff movies, plus reports that the next trilogy will pick up after 1983’s Return of the Jedi. Disney’s announcement meshes the two together rather definitively.
In a way, I’m even more interested in what the spinoffs might look like than about the new trilogy. It’s a setup that creates more space for creative storytelling within the Star Wars universe, while still keeping the core space opera going under the—if nothing else—predictable leadership of J.J. Abrams. I don’t know that Disney will ever be comfortable getting this experimental, but there’s so much room for playing with visual styles, kinds of stories, and pairings of directors and subject material. Why tie Ben Affleck, for example, to the core trilogy movies when he could take his experience with Boston cop movies and apply it to a movie about the Corellian Security Force? Why not reunite Jessica Chastain and Kathryn Bigelow for an austere lady-Jedi movie—or even cast Chastain as Mara Jade? How about hiring Guillermo del Toro to do all of the monster design for the franchise going forward and letting him play with some stories about non-human main characters? Disney’s going to make an absolute fortune out of these movies. I’d like to see fans communicate to them as clearly and as loudly as possible, and as early in the process as we can, that we’d be excited to see the Star Wars franchise innovate if it’s going to flood the zone, rather than stay stagnant.