The year 2018 was fairly rich for Star Wars fans. We had, technically, two films – The Last Jedi had been still fresh at the year’s turn and many have watched it only then, or even later. And not even half a year later Solo came out.
Whether releasing two films too close after each other was a good move remains a question. Solo didn’t quite fulfil Disney’s expectations in terms of drawing people to the cinemas, and part of the reason certainly is that it came too early after The Last Jedi. Even for many hardcore Star Wars fans, it was too much content in too short time that prevented them for properly enjoying it. And less hardcore fans and generic audience often opted out, or rather went to see a different film for a change.
The timing was not just the fault of Disney’s marketing. Much of it was simply a coincidence. Both Solo and the “big” films (The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi) had been rescheduled before for technical reasons, so the calendar had changed.
It is very well possible that some of the setback after Solo‘s release had also contributed to Lucasfilm’s decision about the future Star Wars releases. Since the beginning of 2018, we have heard of two future live action TV series (The Mandalorian and the adventures of Cassian), and no new films. Of course, such plans are made a lot in advance. Still, it seems like Disney may want to focus on streaming its own TV series in the future, rather than release more films.
New Star Wars films will likely still come (like for example the rumoured stand-alone film about Obi-Wan). The bulk of live action production might, however, shift into TV. The reasons are many: TV streaming services are popular nowadays, and if Disney uses its own channel, it will promote other of its works at the same time. (Whether this will be enough to convince enough people to pay for a separate channel is another question.) More importantly, from story perspective, a TV series offers much more time for character and plot development – something, I dare say, that might have worked well already even for the newest trilogy.
Plus, aside from live-action series, there are also the animated ones. 2018 saw the finale of Rebels – a very succesful and very “Star Wars”-y animated series. In the second half of the year, Disney’s own channel began streaming Resistance – a successor to Rebels, focusing on the time between Episodes VI and VII. And for the future, we are expecting more Resistance and soon, a close-up of The Clone Wars, the series that had been interrupted several years back.
Lucasfilm’s future, at least for the time being, really seems to lie in TV streaming. But the biggest thing to expect in 2019, obviously, is still Episode IX. We have the entire year to wait for it…
And on that note, I can only end with the traditional Star Wars wish for the upcoming year: May The Force Be With You!