With Solo’s underperformance at the box office on everyone’s mind as production ramps up for Episode IX, along with the long wait until December 2019, the Star Wars fandom is frantic for news. Any news. Or, as the case may be, with no news. In an article published yesterday (6/20/18), Collider reports that “sources with knowledge of the situation tell Collider that Lucasfilm has decided to put plans for more A Star Wars Story spin-off movies on hold, instead opting to focus their attention on Star Wars: Episode IX and what the next trilogy of Star Wars films will be after that film.”
Not surprisingly, this “news” set off a variety of reactions on social media as people expressed disappointment or joy (depending on their point of view). The biggest thing that needs to be pointed out, though, is that at this time nothing is confirmed. It has been long rumored that an Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off is in development and on the day of Solo’s release, news broke that another long rumored spin-off featuring Boba Fett was going to be directed by James Mangold. Now we have unconfirmed news that two unconfirmed movies are possibly-maybe-we-don’t-actually-know on hold. So… what?
There are two words we have to pivot around here: unconfirmed and if. If Lucasfilm is going to make Obi-Wan and Boba Fett movies, this is still unconfirmed. If these movies are getting made, it is possible they are being put on hold, but this is also unconfirmed. While leaks definitely can happen before the studio intends, Lucasfilm has made no move to confirm these spin-off rumors. Maybe the silence means something… or maybe it just means that Lucasfilm isn’t ready to announce anything. Meanwhile, fandom works itself into a lather (rather easy to do these days) over what is very probably nothing.
Realistically, it makes sense that Lucasfilm (and by extension, their parent company Disney) might want to take a moment and reflect on why Solo underperformed at the box office. There are likely a multitude of reasons for this that will not be delved into here, but needless to say, it can not hurt the company or creative process to take some time to analyze data and think about how best to plot out the projects that are currently confirmed. The Star Wars franchise is frequently compared to Marvel and it is well known that Marvel has a timeline plotted out for its projects, with various points they are trying to hit. Star Wars could arguably be more in need of this same planning, as one of the more worrisome aspects of current era seems to be that there is no “plan” for the franchise, other than making more movies. Making movies is a business, and given the franchise’s ability to make millions, if not billions, of dollars for Disney, of course they will want to carefully consider how best to proceed. This “news” isn’t really news because it makes sense that Solo would be a pause point to reassess. Studios do this all the time and Lucasfilm is no exception. Given that the Disney era of Star Wars films has already raked in over $4.8billion in box office alone means the franchise is healthy and Lucasfilm and Disney will want to keep this going.
Personally, I think it can only be a good thing for Lucasfilm to implement some sort of plan going forward, if indeed they are putting the spin-offs on hold. I don’t want to lose the spin-off films: I want to see an Obi-Wan film (if only for more Ewan McGregor) and while I am less interested in a Boba Fett movie, I also wasn’t that interested in a Han Solo movie and ended up thoroughly enjoying it, so I assume the same thing could happen for Fett. The cameo at the end of Solo opened doors to tying in the animated series to the movies. The spin-offs have an opportunity to make the galaxy larger or conversely, depending on where the Rian Johnson and Benioff/Weiss trilogies take us, a chance for the franchise to stay grounded in something closer to “home.”
The biggest takeaway from this is that it’s not really news at all. Lucasfilm and Disney could be pausing to reassess where things stand, but this is not groundbreaking or unexpected. There have currently been no announcements about what comes next after Episode IX so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Lucasfilm may be considering where to go next in this break between films and what they should prioritize next. Fear not, Star Wars fans! The Force is with us.