It’s been four years since the last Star Wars movie, and there’s no sign of another movie anytime soon
However, there are many films by different directors in the pipeline
Box office returns suggest the franchise’s future could be in television
We explore the current state of Star Wars on the big screen
We’ve come a long way from Princess Leia Organa’s fateful encounter with Darth Vader aboard the Tantive IV in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, and in 2023, the sci-fi staple has grown to the size of a Mithosaur.
While there are many projects in the works spanning animations, live-action series, and movies, the future of the franchise remains in flux.
2016’s Solo: A Star Wars Story – and its franchise low of $393m (£317m) at the box office worldwide – seems to have scared Lucasfilm into making a swing at the box office, leaving fans wondering if the ongoing the Star Wars board should rely on the series instead of the movies.
Read more: Every Star Wars movie and TV show in development
With Disney now having a Vader-inspired Force choke in a galaxy far, far away, what’s next for Star Wars?
Turning the silver screen into a small screen
Once upon a time, it was hard to imagine a Star Wars story beyond George Lucas’ original plan for the original and prequel trilogy.
Then, following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2021, JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduced new heroes in 2015, giving us Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) alongside legacy Han characters Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher).
Read more: How Harrison Ford got the role of Han Solo
The Force Awakens earned a staggering $2.017 billion at the box office, was the highest-grossing film of the year, and is now the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time. Rian Johnson took over the role in the valiant The Last Jedi in 2017, and Abrams returned to The Rise of Skywalker in 2019. Unfortunately, The Force Awakens represented the pinnacle of the franchise, and box office profits have been declining ever since.
An attempt at anthology films also took place around this time, but while Rogue One: a Star Wars Story received critical and commercial acclaim in 2016, Solo: A Star Wars Story hit in 2018.
This thwarted plans for more anthology films and a proposed Obi-Wan Kenobi film trilogy being made into a live-action series.
What’s next on the Star Wars board?
Although Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron was scheduled for 2023, it was pushed back so she could focus on Wonder Woman 3. Following the cancellation, Jenkins reiterated that Rogue Squadron was in active development.
Thor: Love and Thunder’s Taika Waititi is working on a film that Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy says is next on the list, however a 2023 release date has since been pushed back.
Read more: As the final Andorra begins the second season
Watchmen’s Damon Lindelof co-wrote The Rise of Skywalker tour, and while it is rumored to be a standalone film, it may feature characters from the sequel trilogy. Who knows, but since fans feel unappreciated about the mysteries surrounding Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata – and Daisy Ridley says she’s “open to the call” about reprising her role as Rey at some point – these are the two likely candidates .
The latest movie in active development comes from Deadpool 3’s Shawn Levy, who promises that his mystery movie will be shot.
Four years after The Rise of Skywalker, there are no confirmed release dates and several movies have been canceled or put on hold. Rian Johnson’s “new” trilogy is on the back burner as he is busy with Knives Out, the JD Dillard movie has been scrapped, as has the trilogy from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss.
Finally, there’s no word on Kevin Feige’s Star Wars movie allegedly set in a whole new corner of space. In addition to having the might of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ruler behind the camera, the all-new adventure should help ease complaints that, of all the cantinas in the galaxy, we’re largely returning to the same Skywalkers.
Even if the Star Wars cinematic universe is obscure, there’s an army of clone TV shows to keep us busy.
The future will be televised
While Star Wars shows like The Clone Wars and Rebels were once considered cartoons for kids and hardcore fans, that all changed when Jon Favreau brought The Mandalorian to Disney+ in 2019.
This has already been the starting point for The Book of Boba Fett and helped to bring the forgotten plots of the deleted Expanded Universe back into the main canon.
Read more: The Mandalorian Summary: The Story So Far
Even though The Mandalorian Season 3 hopes to continue the show’s winning streak as Disney+’s most-watched franchise, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka.
By doing it three-for-three, Dave Filoni promised that Star Wars: Skeleton Crew (starring Jude Law) will intertwine in a “weird way” with other shows set in that lucrative period between the original trilogy and the sequel.
In terms of variety, there has been an influx of female talent with Bryce Dallas Howard directing and Deborah Chow – with the hope that the latter might return in Obi-Wan Kenobi Season 2. We also get more experimental titles, with Russian Doll’s Leslye Headland developing The Acolyte as a “female-centered” series set in the High Republic, some 100 years before The Phantom Menace.
After an excellent first season, the final series of 12 episodes will conclude Tony Gilroy’s Andor and lead directly to the events of Rogue One 1. These live-action shows come before considering the animated The Bad Batch (currently in its second season) and the next series of the animated anthology series Star Wars: Visions .
Away from the Skywalker saga
The future of television is not without its problems, with criticism that Star Wars is following the MCU route by using established stories to launch too many spin-offs. This became evident when The Book of Boba Fett was criticized as The Mandalorian Season 2.5.
The planned Rangers of the New Republic series has apparently been swallowed up by other projects when Disney cut ties with Gina Carano, while there are rumors that Solo’s disaster could be redeemed through the Disney+ series.
Read more: Ranking Star Wars: Visions episodes
If not, there’s always a potential return of Donald Glover to the Lando live-action series from Dear White People’s Justin Simien. Even controversial elements like The Last Jedi’s Supreme Leader, Snoke, are being reworked as all signs point to his arc and Palpatine’s infamous Rise of Skywalker storyline, which was revamped in season three of The Mandalorian.
Despite the obvious push away from Luke and Leia, we are tied to familiar formulas. Aside from The Bad Batch featuring Palpatine’s obligatory appearance, theorists are already speculating that Clone Force 99’s storyline will cross over with a young Boba Fett in Season 2.
For better or for worse, Star Wars presents a united front similar to the MCU. This avoids DCU confusion like whether or not Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker lives in the same continuity as Robert Pattinson’s Batman, but instead there’s a risk of getting lost in these vast character subplots if you don’t watch every movie or series.
Disney isn’t giving up on Star Wars movies just yet, but with a small number of silver screens in 2023 and a massive amount of Disney+ boots, the current trajectory is clearly visible.
Even Rian Johnson has said he’d be willing to return to the show instead of the movie. The moral of the story is that there’s no Star Wars footage left on the junk planet Bracca, which means anything can be repackaged into some project with an A-list star and a well-known director.
Read more: Every upcoming MCU movie and TV show
As they show to multiply faster than the failed clones of Palpatine on Exegol, it remains to be seen whether all will be our next iteration of The Mandalorian, or if we just have another Christmas special waiting for the X-wings.
The Star Wars: Celebration 2023 fan convention will take place April 7-10, and we expect to learn more about the future of the series then.
The Mandalorian Season 3 will premiere on Disney+ on March 1. Watch the trailer below.