On December 10, 2020, Disney unveiled its new streaming-focused strategy to investors at a special, online Investor Day. With an aim to hit between 300 and 350 million subscribers to its direct-to-consumer platforms by 2024, the company expects all of its creative silos to produce high quality content for Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Star – an international streaming component which will serve as the main app in some regions and a Hulu-like component of Disney+ in others.
But as the company itself admitted during the tail end of the roughly four-hour presentation, hitting that subscriber number means leveraging Star Wars for all its worth. Luckily, Lucasfilm was ready to deploy plenty of content from the Galaxy Far, Far Away. In addition to The Mandalorian, the company will produce eight additional shows over the next few years. It also plans to continue making feature films and even branch out into realms where even the Mandalorian cannot tread.
It all represents a lot of content, so let’s take a look at everything we learned from the Lucasfilm presentation at Disney’s Investor Day.
(Photo by © 2020 Lucasfilm)
Although in development for quite sometime, the spy-thriller series staring Diego Luna as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Cassian Andor is finally in production. To celebrate, Lucasfilm unveiled a sizzle reel featuring a look at some of the sets and finally confirmed the series will be called Andor. Set prior to Rogue One, it will see Cassian becoming a valuable Rebel asset and feature actors Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, and Kyle Soller. Genevieve O’Reilly will also appear as Mon Mothma, a part she has played since Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. The 12-episode series will debut on Disney+ in 2022.
(Photo by © Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved/Courtesy Everett Collection)
Also in development for seeming ages, the Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series coming to Disney+ will feature Ewan McGregor as the famed Jedi and, in a shocking twist, Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader. Kennedy teased a “rematch of the century” between the two former friends 10 years after Obi-Wan left Vader for dead on Mustafar. This notion would seemingly break one of the longest-standing aspects of Star Wars continuity – the two are not supposed to meet again until their fight on the Death Star – but there are many ways for Obi-Wan to encounter his former apprentice again. Nevertheless, fans of the Star Wars prequels were pleased to hear of Christensen’s return. Under the direction of Mandalorian veteran Deborah Chow, the series will begin production in March of 2021.
The animated Star Wars: The Bad Batch will continue the tale of the special mission clone troopers featured in the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. As their name suggests, the unit is composed of clones who hatched differently from the rank-and-file troops. Each member of the team is a highly specialized commando, but not exactly predictable or compliant. As glimpsed in the teaser trailer screened at the Investor Day presentation, the program will follow the Bad Batch as they become mercenaries in the early days of the Empire. The series comes to Disney+ next year.
Beyond those four shows, which we had some details of before Investor Day, the future of Star Wars on Disney+ was veiled in a mist of rumors and unconfirmed reports. Kennedy dispelled some of that uncertainty by announcing five new titles and one film-length adventure for the service.
Though Kennedy spent most of her time talking about Star Wars’s place on Disney+, she did offer some updates on the feature film slate. Taika Waititi is still working on the script to his Star Wars film. “Taika’s approach to Star Wars will be fresh, unexpected, and … unique,” Kennedy said. “His enormous talent and sense of humor will ensure that audiences are in for an unforgettable ride.”
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) December 10, 2020
But Kennedy surprised everyone by announcing Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins would direct the next Star Wars feature, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. Set in a what Kennedy called a “future era of Star Wars,” it will tell the tale of the famed X-Wing fighter squadron. In a video Jenkins posted to her own Twitter account, she said the project takes inspiration from her father, a US fighter pilot who lost his life in service to the country. “It ignited a desire to turn all that tragedy and thrill into the greatest fighter pilot film of all time,” she explained. It is slated for release in December of 2023.
Curiously, though, no mention was made of the film trilogy Rian Johnson is reportedly developing for Lucasfilm.
(Photo by © Lucasfilm)
Beyond Star Wars, Lucasfilm is also working on a handful of interesting projects.
First, there is the Willow television series. Spearheaded by Solo: A Star Wars Story‘s Jonathan Kasdan and Arrow‘s Wendy Mericle, it will follow a new generation of heroes and a returning Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) on quest to save the realm. According to unconfirmed reports, Ellie Bamber, Cailee Spaeny, and Erin Kellyman will lead the series as that younger generation of adventurers. Crazy Rich Asians’ Jon Chu will direct the pilot.
Kennedy also confirmed the upcoming Indiana Jones film will be the last. Harrison Ford returns once last time as Dr. Henry Jones Jr. But in a series first, Steven Spielberg will hand the director duties off to Logan’s James Mangold. The choice of director also reflects the sense of finality developing around the project.
But perhaps most exciting project touted is Lucasfilm’s first new concept in decades: the company intends to adapt City of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi for the big screen. The story centers on a young African girl’s quest to restore magic to her forsaken people. While Lucasfilm will always be the Star Wars company, it is refreshing to see them look to new ideas. 20th Century Studios will act as a producing partner on the project.
Lucasfilm’s plans presented by Kennedy suggest a robust future for Star Wars and a big turnaround from the original intention to produce a new Star Wars film every year. Surprisingly, the streaming universe seems a better fit, although, we cannot wait until it is safe to see a Patty Jenkins X-Wing movie in a theater. Nonetheless, it is hard to ignore the hard shift to Star Wars as a home entertainment brand. Of course, we imagine generations of fans clutching their action figures and DVDs will find little to complain about in this expanded, streaming Star Wars future.
January 2021 Update: This report was updated to clarify that The Mandalorian season 3 is not expected in 2021.