The shape of Star Wars to come: New Rian Johnson film trilogy, live-action streaming TV series announced

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Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson developing new Star Wars trilogy
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 15: (L-R) Actors Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill and director Rian Johnson of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI took part today in the Walt Disney Studios live action presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2017 in Anaheim, Calif. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI will be released in U.S. theaters on December 15, 2017. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Daisy Ridley; Mark Hamill; Rian Johnson
Actors Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill and director Rian Johnson of Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (Courtesy Lucasfilm/Disney)

A new Star Wars movie trilogy, standing apart from the Skywalker “episodes,” is officially in the works, with Episode VIII — The Last Jedi writer and director Rian Johnson tapped to pen the scripts and go behind the camera again with his longtime collaborator, Ram Bergman, producing the films.

The development deal, announced Thursday by Disney and Lucasfilm, cements Johnson’s place as a master of the cinematic Star Wars universe and doubles down on the trust they placed in the Looper director to follow J.J. Abrams’ lead after Episode VII — The Force Awakens.

“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,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy in a statement. “Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.”

Kennedy just last week said the Lucasfilm “Story Group” was charting out the next decade of big-screen Star Wars adventures, including post-Episode IX stories featuring characters like Rey, Poe, Finn and BB-8.

The Last Jedi is out in theaters Dec. 15. Release dates and any other details about Johnson’s new trilogy have not been announced.

Live-action Star Wars TV series finally official

On the small screen there is news as well: A long-awaited, live-action Star Wars television series is on the way.

According to Variety, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in an earnings call that the TV series would anchor Disney’s new exclusive streaming service, which is targeting a 2019 launch, along with episodic television adaptations of Monsters Inc. and High School Musical and a new Marvel series.

With the exception of the infamous 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special and a couple of mid-Eighties Ewok TV movies, small-screen adventures in A Galaxy Far, Far Away have been animated — Clone Wars followed by Rebels, which is about halfway through its fourth and final season.

There’s no word, yet, what era or eras of Star Wars the live-action series will inhabit, or whether Clone Wars and Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni will be involved …

What this could mean …

As Disney seeks to get its subscription video on demand service up and running, and disentangles itself from Netflix, rumors have swirled recently that 20th Century Fox was exploring the sale of its entertainment division to Disney; among many other ramifications, such as deal would mean that Marvel Studios’ (aka Disney’s) Avengers cinematic universe could finally co-exist with the X-Men and Fantastic Four — but, also, it could bring the distribution rights to the original 1977 Star Wars (Episode IV — A New Home) back under the Lucasfilm roof. George Lucas sold his business to Disney five years ago for more than $4 billion.

An exclusive Star Wars live-action TV series would make a perfect centerpiece for Disney’s VOD venture — rounded out nicely by all the content Fox would bring to the table …

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