May 20, 2013 7:00am PT by Philiana Ng
'Star Wars Rebels' Animated Series Coming to Disney XD
The next Star Wars installment won't hit theaters until 2015, but a new animated television series is headed to the small screen next year.
Disney has greenlighted Star Wars Rebels, which will launch in fall 2014 as a one-hour special on Disney Channel before debuting as a full-fledged TV series on Disney XD, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Production has already begun.
Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class, Sherlock Holmes) serves as executive producer and will write the premiere episode. Dave Filoni, who was supervising director on Star Wars: The Clone Wars (which ran from 2008-13 on Cartoon Network), and Greg Weisman (The Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice) will also executive produce. Casting will be announced at a later date.
Star Wars Rebels takes place between Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, which spans about two decades. The animated series is set "in a time where the Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy and hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights as a fledgling rebellion against the Empire is taking shape." (Lucasfilm delayed animated effort Star Wars Detours from Seth Green, which would have taken place between Episode III and Episode IV.)
"The entire team at Lucasfilm has provided extraordinary creativity and innovation for over three decades, and we're thrilled to be bringing the expansive and imaginative world of Star Wars to Disney XD's viewers," said Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer of Disney Channels Worldwide.
"I couldn't be more excited to explore new corners of the Star Wars universe,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “I think Star Wars Rebels will capture the look, feel and fun that both kids and their parents love about Star Wars."
The news of Star Wars Rebels comes two months after Lucasfilm announced -- Disney acquired the company for $4.05 billion in October -- that it would not be bringing back Star Wars: The Clone Wars after the fifth season on Cartoon Network, instead hinting that it was pursuing "a new direction in animated programming." At the time, Lucasfilm said it was exploring a new Star Wars series that would take place "in a time period previously untouched in Star Wars films and television programming."
During a conference call at the time of Lucasfilm's sale, Disney CEO Robert Iger discussed the potential for Star Wars animated spinoffs to play on Disney-owned channels, especially Disney XD (the network carries advertising).
Star Wars Rebels is produced by Lucasfilm Animation. Attendees at the Star Wars Celebration Europe event will be the first to see footage of the show.
Watch a preview of the project below: