Delivering the biggest shock the world has encountered since Wednesday followed Tuesday, the people at Walt Disney have announced that there is a lot more Star Wars to come.
Bob Iger, the entertainment giant's CEO, confirmed that Rian Johnson, director of the imminent Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has been signed to develop a new trilogy of films. Walt Disney, which owns Lucasfilm, creators of the franchise, is also planning a live-action Star Wars series to air on its new entertainment streaming service. That service is expected to be online by the end of 2019.
The announcement was made at the company’s quarterly earnings call. “We all loved working with Rian on The Last Jedi,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm.
“He’s a creative force, and watching him craft ‘The Last Jedi’ from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career. Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.”
Johnson, who made his name with slick thrillers such as Brick and Looper, has triumphed where others have conspicuously failed. In recent months, JJ Abrams replaced Colin Trevorrow as director of Star Wars Episode IX, which will complete the main trilogy, and Ron Howard replaced Phil Lord and Christopher Miller on next year's Solo: A Star Wars Story, a Han Solo spinoff.
Johnson, who clearly speaks Disney's language, will write and direct the next trilogy with his collaborator Ram Bergman. "We had the time of our lives collaborating with Lucasfilm and Disney on The Last Jedi," Johnson and Bergman said. "Star Wars is the greatest modern mythology and we feel very lucky to have contributed to it. We can't wait to continue with this new series of films."
Industry pundits are eagerly waiting further news of Disney's engagement with the revolution launched by Netflix. The company's streaming service desperately needs content. Disney is developing TV versions of Pixar's Monsters Inc, the Disney Channel's High School Musical franchise and a new series from the Marvel bullpen (The Mouse House also has control of Marvel Studios).
“Our advantage as a company is to take advantages that exist out there for good television and take advantage of it,” Iger said. Marvel recently confirmed that all Disney movies, including Marvel and Star Wars films, would be removed from Netflix by 2019.
Rumours suggested that the company was making moves to acquire 20th Century Fox’s back catalogue. Such a deal would not just deliver classic Fox movies, but would also take in such series as The Simpsons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Futurama and Family Guy. Iger declined to comment on the Chinese whispers concerning the Fox negotiations.
“We look forward to launching our first direct-to-consumer streaming service in the New Year,” he said in a gnomic statement. “And we will continue to invest for the future and take the smart risks required to deliver shareholder value.” He admitted that the service would, in the US, be priced “substantially below” Netflix’s $10.99 as it would initially have less content.
Disney reported a decline in earnings for the quarter. But the recent much-admired Thor: Ragnarok has performed above expectations and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which opens here on December 14th, will surely eat the universe alive.