Disney has announced a new “Star Wars” film from the director of “Wonder Woman” and several new TV series within the sci-fi franchise, including two spin-offs from the creators of smash hit “The Mandalorian.”
In a virtual presentation for investors, Disney chief executive Bob Chapek laid out super-sized ambitions for it direct-to-consumer efforts, leaning heavily on some of the company’s biggest brands. Over the next few years, Disney is planning to premiere directly on Disney+ not just an armada of “Star Wars” and Marvel series but 15 live-action, Pixar and animated series, and 15 live-action, Pixar and animated movies.
Chapek said Disney+ subscribers worldwide have reached 86.8 million, up from 74 million last month. The service has easily exceeded most forecasts, reaching that number 13 months since its launch in November 2019. Disney will increase the monthly price by $1 to $8 a month in March. The company forecasts 230-260 million subscribers by 2024.
Patty Jenkins will direct “Rogue Squadron,” which is set in “a future era of the galaxy” and will be the next “Star Wars” movie released, scheduled for Christmas 2023.
“This story will introduce a new generation of starfighter pilots, as they earn their wings and risk their lives in a boundary-pushing, high-speed thrill ride,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told Disney’s investor day.
Jenkins immediately posted on Twitter a video of herself donning a “Star Wars” starfighter helmet and marching toward an X-wing, adding she had been inspired to take on the film by her air force pilot father.
“So when he lost his life in service to this country, it ignited a desire in me to turn all of that tragedy and thrill into one day making the greatest fighter pilot movie of all time,” she said.
Jenkins will be the first woman to direct a “Star Wars” feature film.
10 “Star Wars” series spin offs
Kennedy also announced “Rangers of the New Republic” and “Ahsoka,” series for the Disney+ streaming platform that will be developed by Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, set simultaneously and sharing storylines with their “Mandalorian” show that launched the enormously popular Baby Yoda character.
“These interconnected shows, along with future stories, will excite new audiences, embrace our most passionate fans and will culminate in a climactic story event,” said Kennedy.
Another new series will be “Lando,” based on fan favourite Lando Calrissian from the original “Star Wars” film trilogy. It will be helmed by “Dear White People” creator Justin Simien.
A previously announced “Rogue One” spin-off Disney+ series, titled “Andor,” has just begun production in London and will tell “the building of a revolution,” said returning star Diego Luna.
Stellan Skarsgard and Fiona Shaw join the cast of the “tense, nail-biting spy thriller” created by “Bourne Identity” screenwriter Tony Gilroy.
Hayden Christensen, the divisive star of the poorly received “Star Wars” prequel trilogy, will return as Darth Vader in “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” another previously announced Disney+ series starring an also-returning Ewan McGregor. Production starts in March.
And a “Star Wars” mystery thriller entitled “The Acolyte” will be directed by “Russian Doll” co-creator Leslye Headland and “set in final days of the high Republic era.”
At the start of Disney’s investor day Kareem Daniel, head of the company’s distribution unit, previewed plans to “release roughly 10 Marvel series, 10 ‘Star Wars’ series” as well as 15 Disney series and 15 Disney films on Disney+ “over the next few years.”
Another “Star Wars” movie is currently being written by Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”), Kennedy confirmed, adding that his “approach to ‘Star Wars’ will be “fresh, unexpected and unique.”