Disney Chairman Bob Iger isn’t wasting any time in exploiting the Star Wars goldmine he purchased in 2012 from George Lucas. The next episode of the epic story is set to be released in December of this year.
Iger announced at the annual shareholders meeting that Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens will be followed up with Star Wars VIII, set for release in May 2017. In between those dates, Iger says there will be a “stand alone” release of a Star Wars film set in the same universe, Rogue One in December 2016.
Disney is already thinking ahead to further spinoffs from the original Star Wars episodes. Imagine two or more Star Wars film threads at one time with sequels, prequels, and a new Star Wars film coming out twice a year.
Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced at a shareholders meeting that the stand-alone film, starring The Theory of Everything actress Felicity Jones, will be titled Rogue One, according to a statement on the official Star Wars website.
The movie, which will follow new characters and adventures in the Star Wars universe, will begin shooting this summer with a release date of Dec. 16, 2016.
The first film in the rebooted series, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, comes out Dec. 18. Directed by J.J. Abrams, it features Lupita Nyong’o, Adam Driver and Gwendoline Christie alongside the franchise’s original stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.
And Star Wars diehards will not have to wait too long to get their next fix after that: Disney also announced that the sequel to The Force Awakens will be released May 26, 2017.
Though the full title of Episode VIII has yet to be revealed, Iger said Looper’s Rian Johnson will write and direct the film.
There’s nothing wrong with the talent hired on to make these projects a success. Lawrence Kasdan, who helped write the original trilogy and has signed on for Star Wars VII, will bring a much-needed restraint back to the writing of the series and Abrams has the knack of storytelling that made the first three releases of the franchise so compelling.
But how much Star Wars can audiences take? Can the fanatics carry the box office? Even the Star Trek franchise eventually collapsed as a result of overexposure and tired story lines. I see something similar happening with Star Wars, as audiences get tired of light saber duels and weird-looking aliens.
But Iger and Disney have to justify the $4 billion price tag for Lucasfilm to stockholders, and recouping that money — quickly — is of paramount importance to Iger’s personal survival. He’s not concerned about driving the franchise into the ground. It’s all about the Benjamins and how quickly he can fill Disney’s coffers with Star Wars gold.
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