When there’s smoke rising out of a galaxy far, far away, you can rest assured that there’s a fire burning away there as well. Rumors have sped about the internet like so many X-Wing fighters since Disney announced its $4.05 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm, and the biggest of these have turned out to be true. Director J.J. Abrams said he would not direct Star Wars Episode VII, the first film in a new trilogy continuing the story that ended in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, even as widespread reports said he would. One month later, Abrams was confirmed as director. Another persistent rumor: The new trilogy would not be the only new Star Wars film. The story went that Disney would give Star Wars the Marvel Comics movie treatment, with spinoff movies focusing on individual characters. That turned out to be true as well.
“Lucasfilm is officially announcing new spinoff films that will expand the mythos and depths of the Star Wars universe in previously unexplored ways,” reads Lucasfilm’s statement, “One of the standalone films will be written by Lawrence Kasdan, screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and co-writer of Return of the Jedi while the other will be penned by Simon Kinberg, writer of Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The movies will be separate from the upcoming Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, on which Kasdan and Kinberg are also consulting, and are expected to be released sometime after Episode VII. Each standalone film will focus on a specific character, and two spinoff films are currently confirmed.”
Kasdan and Kinberg were actually confirmed to be working with Disney and Lucasfilm on the new Star Wars movies back in November, but at the time it was unclear which of the films they would be working on.
Just who will these spinoff films focus on? Considering the validity of past Disney Star Wars rumors, one of them may in fact be Zack Snyder’s Seven Samurai-inspired take on the universe. Vulture reported in January that Snyder would direct the film once he’d finished his current projects, but Snyder’s representation vehemently denied it. “While he is super flattered because he is a huge fan, Zack is not involved in any way with the new Star Wars,” said Snyder’s representation, He is currently in post on his two films Man of Steel and 300: Battle of Artemisia.” Abrams proved that just because a director says no to Star Wars before an official announcement, that doesn’t mean he isn’t doing it.
Other rumors suggest that the spinoffs could focus on Yoda or mobster Jabba the Hutt. The Star Wars franchise is a printing press of money waiting to be fired up for Disney and the newly re-energized Lucasfilms. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear of further stand alone movies as well. There is always the risk of over-saturating the market, but with one of the most loyal and passionate fan bases of any entertainment property in the world, Disney may be in for a good couple of years.