The Force Awakens

Screengrab via StarWars/YouTube

Here’s what’s coming next in the galaxy far, far away.

The new era of Star Wars is an embarrassment of riches for fans of the franchise.

Disney’s purchase of Star Wars didn’t just revive the fandom—it also guaranteed the regular production of new Star Wars movies from now until, well, Disney and Lucasfilm decide to stop making them (possibly never).

With the intricate planning that has to take place at every stage of the process to maintain continuity in the galaxy far, far away, it makes sense that Lucasfilm has planned its film lineup well into the future.

Here are the Star Wars movies you can expect to hit theaters in the next few years.

The Star Wars movie release schedule

1) Solo: A Star Wars Story, May 25, 2018

In 2018, we get another Star Wars standalone (unless Lucasfilm and Disney decided later to give it a sequel, who knows!). You’ll notice this is the first spring date for a Disney-era Star Wars film, after Star Wars Episode VIII, originally scheduled for spring 2017, got pushed back to the holidays. Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!) was picked from more than 2,500 actors to be young Han in the film, with Donald Glover (Atlanta, Community) coming on as a young Lando Calrissian. You can also look for Woody Harrelson as Han’s mentor, and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) in a yet to be announced role.

star wars movie calendar Screengrab via RonHoward/Twitter

Phil Lord and Chris Miller of The Lego Movie had been tapped to direct the film, but they unexpectedly left (or were fired) in late June 2017—a startling four months into filming. Lucasfilm said the relationship fell apart over “creative differences.” In the aftermath reports suggested Lord and Miller clashed with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and script co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, a familiar Star Wars name who worked on the Return of the Jedi, Empires Strikes Back, and The Force Awakens. On June 22, Lucasfilm announced award-winning director Ron Howard would replace Lord and Miller on the film.

The upheaval unnerved Star Wars fans who are looking forward to seeing young Han on the big screen. Kennedy previously told Variety that the film will have a heist or Western type feel, but it’s not clear how things might change under Howard’s direction.

Howard, meanwhile, has been cheerfully sharing updates from the project on social media, perhaps in an attempt to reassure fans.

star wars calendar Screengrab via RonHoward/Twitter

On Oct. 17, Howard announced the official title of the Han Solo movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story, in a video shared on Twitter. He also said in the video that filming on the project had wrapped.

 

2) Star Wars Episode IX, Dec. 20, 2019

Star Wars Episode IX is the final chapter of the trilogy that started with A Force Awakens. It’ll be an especially bittersweet moment for fans because Carrie Fisher’s beloved Princess Leia was expected to play a larger role in the film.

Lucasfilm has said that it would adjust the script to account for her absence, and it would not construct a CGI version of her character like it did for Peter Cushings as Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One. Fisher finished filming her scenes for The Last Jedi before she died in December 2016.

Lucasfilm had tapped Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow to helm the project, but it announced on Sept. 5, 2017, that it and Trevorrow were parting ways. A week later Lucasfilm said The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams—widely viewed as a safe choice—would be back for Episode IX.

star wars movie calendar Screengrab via StarWars/YouTube

Daisy Ridley as Rey

With that change, it comes as little surprise that Lucasfilm bumped the May 2019 release date for Episode IX to Dec. 20, 2019.

While Episode IX marks the final chapter of the trilogy, it won’t be the last we see of Star Wars—not by a long shot. It’ll be followed in 2020 by another standalone movie, and while there are no further announced films, you can bet Disney won’t leave its extremely valuable intellectual property sitting around to gather dust. Disney CEO Bob Iger hinted in a Q&A back in March 2017 that we could be looking at 15 more years of Star Wars filmmaking. Indeed, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has already been tasked with developing a new trilogy for Lucasfilm that will steer away from the Skywalker saga. More on that later.

Filming on Episode IX is scheduled to begin in January 2018.

3) Star Wars Anthology movie, 2020

Lucasfilm plans to release another standalone Star Wars movie in 2020, and word on the street is that it’ll focus on Obi-Wan Kenobi. The studio has yet to confirm the news, but according to the Hollywood Reporter, director Stephen Daldry  (Billy Elliot, The Crown) is in talks to helm the project.

star wars movie calendar Screengrab via Marcelo Zuinga/YouTube

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi

Prior to the report, fans wondered if Lucasfilm would move forward with its long-rumored Boba Fett movie. In late 2016 we learned that director Josh Trank had signed on for the Boba Fett movie and almost announced the film at a Star Wars Celebration conference panel back in 2015. There was even a teaser reel ready to show fans, according to EW. But Trank mysteriously dropped out of the panel and left the project a week later. The reason for his departure was never stated, but many fans guess it had something to do with production problems on the embarrassingly bad Fantastic Four movie (which Trank publicly disavowed). Whatever the reason, Trank’s departure left the movie floundering. In a December 2016 interview with EW, Lucasfilm’s Kennedy sidestepped a definitive answer on a Boba Fett standalone film, saying the story group would gather after Rogue One to take a broader look at the franchise and decide where they want to head next. It could be a Boba Fett movie, but the film could also focus on Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, or another part of the Star Wars story.

While for now it appears that Lucasfilm is leaning toward Obi-Wan, it’s entirely possible we’ll still see solo films for Yoda and Boba Fett eventually. Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels, has said he’d be willing to return to the role, but it’s too early to guess if he’ll be back.

4) Rian Johnson’s Star Wars trilogy (TBA)

The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson got seriously mixed reviews for his contribution to Lucasfilm’s mainline Star Wars trilogy. Critics loved Johnson’s bold choices and strong character development, but large portions of Star Wars fandom hated Luke Skywalker’s characterization in the film and the sometimes awkward tonal shifts. But before The Last Jedi even debuted, Lucasfilm announced it was shifting Johnson away from the Skywalker saga to a different part of the Star Wars universe.

In early November 2017, Lucasfilm said Johnson would helm a new Star Wars trilogy and “introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy notably said she was excited to see what Johnson would do with a “clean slate” to build from. We still have no idea what story Johnson might tell, but we’re very interested to see what shakes out from this unprecedented cinematic move away from the core story and characters.

While Johnson is off in his own Star Wars sandbox, J.J. Abrams will close out the current trilogy with what will likely be a more broadly palatable (but less interesting) final chapter.

Editor’s note: This article will be regularly updated for relevance.

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