Make no mistake, when it comes to Star Wars, Disney and Lucasfilm have a preliminary story arc locked down all the way up until the release of Colin Trevorrow’s Episode IX in 2019, according to Kathleen Kennedy.
Breaking down the franchise in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Lucasfilm president noted that both parties have mapped out a “very carefully thought-through strategic plan” that dovetails each episodic installment – not to mention the Anthology films – together under one umbrella.
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And though it’s understandable to be apprehensive about such a seemingly rigid and unyielding framework, Kennedy noted that each film is likely to change based on the director behind the lens. So, for instance, we’ve heard that Rian Johnson is infusing Episode VIII with a “cool, sci-fi realism,” while the general gist of Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trumpets the prequel as a bona fide heist movie.
“We’ve thought this all through. The story group has put together a very carefully thought-through strategic plan for how we’re developing the stories and what those stories are and targeting filmmakers. We’ve looked at it up through, I would say, 2019, Episode IX. Over the last almost five months now, I’ve been working on Rogue One, and then Episode VIII will start up at the end of January. This will be the only time that it’s really one right after the other because our whole slate got upended a little bit when J.J. and I needed to postpone [the release of] Episode VII from summer to Christmas.”
When it comes to succeeding the legacy left by George Lucas, Kennedy admits that there is some degree of pressure, though an open communication with the former company owner has allowed for her to gain a better perspective of where the franchise is headed. Indeed, Kennedy even noted that Lucas had long intended to sell the Star Wars IP to Disney; it was simply a question of whether or not he would remain involved in the procedure.
“I talk to George all the time. George has gone through his own personal process of trying to find his own way of letting go of something that has a huge amount to do with his entire adult life. It’s really impossible for him to only get involved a little bit. He either feels he needs to get involved 100 percent and really be running everything or not at all. He had to make that choice for himself, to step away. When I first came into this company, I had about five months where it was back and forth in his mind as to whether he was going to sell, when he was going to sell.
At the same time, we were talking about making new movies. He was the one who initially approached Harrison and Mark and Carrie. All of that he initiated, and I think realizing what it meant to stay involved with its execution was what he had to reconcile. And it’s been tough, watching this go on without his direct involvement, but at the same time, I think he really wanted to step away, knowing that it was in good hands. That’s why he always, always wanted to sell to Disney. There was no debate around that.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will get the ball rolling, though, and it’s primed to debut on December 18 in North America. Until then, check out the first images (via People) showcasing Carrie Fisher’s daughter sporting a very Leia-esque hairstyle.