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The Skywalker family will be the common thread in future Star Wars saga films

We’re mere months away from the premiere of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, and while there’s no shortage of anticipation surrounding the continuation of the Star Wars series, there is some uncertainty about how the new film will connect — narratively speaking — with the original trilogy’s final chapter, 1983’s Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.

In a recent interview about the future of the Star Wars franchise, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy explained the difference between the upcoming Star Wars “Saga” films like The Force Awakens and the standalone “Anthology” films like Star Wars: Rogue One and the Han Solo movie, and described the unifying thread that runs through each of the past and future Star Wars Saga films.

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“The saga films focus on the Skywalker family,” Kennedy told The Costco Connection. “The stories follow a linear narrative that connects to the previous six films. The Force Awakens follows Return of the Jedi and continues that generational story. The Anthology films offer opportunities to explore fresh characters, new storylines, and a variety of genres inside the Star Wars universe.”

While it’s been speculated that one (or more) of the characters in The Force Awakens will be related to Luke Skywalker or his sister, Leia Organa, Kennedy’s comments seem to offer some confirmation of that notion. Exactly which character hails from the Skywalker clan is uncertain, though.

After The Force Awakens hits theaters in December, Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm currently have a new Star Wars movie scheduled to premiere every year for the foreseeable future, with the films alternating between Star Wars Saga installments (i.e., Episode VIII and Episode IX) and Star Wars Anthology movies that so far include the upcoming Rogue One and Han Solo movies, as well as a potential standalone film focusing on the bounty hunter Boba Fett.

As the schedule currently stands, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens arrives in theaters December 18, 2015. It will be followed by the first Star Wars Anthology film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, on December 16, 2016. Star Wars: Episode VIII will then premiere May 26, 2017, and the following year will bring the still-untitled Han Solo movie to theaters on May 25, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX will then hit theaters in 2019.