Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be the last big-screen instalment of the franchise for the foreseeable future, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger.
The film franchise will go “into a hiatus” for the foreseeable future, Iger told Variety in an interview on Thursday.
The announcement comes just as Disney prepares to release its fifth Star Wars film in as many years, which it says will be the last chapter in the Skywalker family’s saga.
Disney set a break-neck pace with the Star Wars films after it acquired the franchise with Lucasfilm in a US$4.05 billion deal back in 2012.
Disney re-launched the franchise with Episode VII: The Force Awakens in 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017), Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) and ending with Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker in December.
That’s a much quicker schedule than Star Wars fans were used to. There was a three-year gap between each of the first three Star Wars films (1977, 1980 and 1983, respectively). Creator George Lucas then waited over a decade-and-a-half before he released his second trilogy in three-year increments (1999, 2002 and 2005).
Under Disney, Lucasfilm released new instalments in the main story every two years, with “Star Wars Story” spinoffs to fill in the gap years.
The first spinoff, Rogue One, topped $1-billion in worldwide box office earnings, according to the industry-tracking site The Numbers. However, a second spinoff focused on Han Solo performed relatively poorly with a worldwide take of just over $393 million.
Disney’s decision to hit the brakes comes after the company parted ways with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the Game of Thrones showrunners who had planned to write their own trilogy of movies. Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and Kevin Feige, Marvel’s chief creative officer, had also been working on film projects set in the same universe.
It’s unclear where those projects stand at this point.
However, that doesn’t mean the franchise will disappear from the public eye.
Iger told Variety there will be plenty of Star Wars content to come on the small screen, including The Mandalorian, a bounty hunter-focused show set to debut with the new Disney Plus streaming service on Nov. 12.
Disney is also developing three other series for its streaming service, Iger said. One of those franchises has been confirmed as an Obi Wan Kenobi series, with Ewan McGregor reprising the role he played in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
Iger told Variety that he sees Star Wars as “more than just films,” and that there will be plenty of related content to come, from shows to rides to merchandise.
He added that The Mandalorian created good “buzz” at a recent media screening for fans.
The decision to shelve the films has proven divisive among fans on Twitter.
“In two years Star Wars has been reduced to ‘direct to TV,'” one user wrote.
“They do need to take a step back and figure out why they’re bad at making Star Wars films,” wrote another user.
“The movies have been mishandled,” added a third person. “The lack of creative direction for the current impromptu trilogy was myopic.”
The J.J. Abrams-directed Force Awakens made $2.05 billion at the box office in 2015, while Rian Johnson’s follow-up, The Last Jedi, earned $1.32 billion amid mixed reaction from fans.
Abrams is back to direct The Rise of Skywalker, which stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac.Follow @JoshKElliott
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.