In 2018, when it was revealed that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were making their own Star Wars movies, geek fandom, for the most part, was happy. But now, in the aftermath of the controversial final season of Game of Thrones, it seems that most people will breathe a sigh of relief that the showrunners from that fantasy epic won’t be tackling a galaxy, far, far away. On Monday, news broke that Benioff and Weiss would no longer be making a Star Wars movie with Lucasfilm, citing their new Netflix deal and a busy schedule as the primary reason.
So, right now, whether or not you think this is good news or bad news isn’t really the point. The more interesting thing is: What the hell is happening next? The Benioff and Weiss Star Wars film was scheduled to be the next movie to come out in theaters after the release of The Rise of Skywalker in December 2022. But, now that they are out of the picture, who will make the next movie? And, when will it be released?
Based on what we know right now, here are three ways this could all go.
3. Rian Johnson’s trilogy gets bumped up, comes out in 2022
The first, and perhaps most obvious answer to this question is simple: Rian Johnson has been on deck since 2017 to develop his own Star Wars trilogy. Every legit news source and quote from Johnson indicates this is still happening, but the when just hasn’t been nailed down. So, now that the Benioff and Weiss thing is dead, it makes a decent amount of sense that Johnson’s trilogy would be prioritized next.
Again, we don’t really know anything about how or why his trilogy wasn’t already ahead of the Benioff and Weiss one (it was, after all, announced before theirs) but assuming everyone at Lucasfilm is still pumped to make the Johnson trilogy, it seems feasible the first movie in that series could be ready by 2022. I mean, Rise of Skywalker got a brand new director and screenwriters after pre-production had begun, and, it’s still coming out “on time.” So, is two years enough time to make the first Rian Johnson movie in his new trilogy? It seems totally possible.
2. A new director and team take-over whatever the 2022 Benioff and Weiss team had planned
It’s tough to know how far along this Benioff and Weiss Star Wars movie was before they parted ways with Lucasfilm, but it’s possible that it’s totally far enough along to make Lucasfilm want to just finish it. Since 2015, with the strange exception of The Last Jedi, every single new Star Wars movie has had a behind-the-scenes change with either writers, directors or both. The Force Awakens lost Michael Ardnt early in the screenwriting process, Rogue One had those famous (or infamous) reshoots, Lucasfilm fired directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord from Solo and then, before production on The Rise of Skywalker began, they fired Colin Trevorrow from that movie, too.
The point here isn’t to say, oh wow, Lucasfilm sure is having problems, but instead, to point out, that in each case, despite these setbacks, all of those movies basically got finished and came out, more or less, when they were supposed to. So, Lucasfilm could easily surprise everyone right now and just say: Yep, the schedule hasn’t changed, we’re still doing a movie in 2022, and it’s gonna be pretty much what we had planned all along.
1. Kevin Feige consolidates Marvel and Lucasfilm into one studio, makes his Star Wars movie next
While all of this has been going on, there was also the news that Marvel CEO Kevin Feige had been asked by Lucasfilm to develop a Star Wars movie. This news broke a tiny bit before it was also revealed that Feige would have an even bigger role at Marvel Studios than he’s had before.
So, what gives? How can Kevin Feige be making a Star Wars movie with Kathleen Kennedy and ALSO taking on more Marvel stuff at the same time? Here’s a very speculative answer: It’s because Feige and Kennedy are going to make Lucasfilm and Marvel into one studio. Look, both are already subsidiaries of Disney, but, right now, are separate studios. But what if that changed?
I’m not saying there would be a literal crossover of Marvel characters into Star Wars movies, but instead, what if the resources of the two studios were suddenly pooled? If Kevin Feige was overseeing a new Marvel-Lucasfilm Studios, then it would make sense his mysterious Star Wars project would be prioritized over everything.
From an industry standpoint, whenever Lucasfilm has felt something slipping, they’ve tended to regroup and bet on a winner. Force Awakens script not up to snuff? Let’s hire Lawerence Kasdan! Rogue One needs some reshoots? Get Darth Vader in that finale and hire Tony Gilroy! Solo not working out? Let’s bring in Ron Howard. Oh shit, Colin Trevorrow isn’t giving us the script we want! Okay, let’s just hire J.J. Abrams again.
The point is, in every case, Lucasfilm has gone with the safe option in a moment of crisis or transition. And though Rian Johnson is sort of an outlier here, the idea that the next Star Wars film would be a Kevin Feige-led project would be the absolute safest route for Lucasfilm to go. For the most part, it would probably make fans happy, too.
Would such a move create the best possible Star Wars movie? Well, as Yoda says, always in motion is the future. And if the rebirth of Star Wars in the past decade has taught us anything, it’s that we should expect the unexpected.
The Rise of Skywalker, which is totally not the last Star Wars movie ever, is out on December 20, 2019.