Now it’s official: D.B. Weiss and David Benioff are working on the 2022 Star Wars movie, the first to follow this December’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed Tuesday morning.
That Benioff and Weiss are behind the 2022 release shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise; the pair — currently under intense critical scrutiny as Game of Thrones crashes toward its conclusion on HBO — were announced as working on a new trilogy of Star Wars movies last year, and just last month, were identified by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy as being part of discussions over the next decade’s worth of Star Wars stories. As soon as three new Star Wars movies were placed on the schedule, it was either going to be Benioff and Weiss or Rian Johnson at the helm.
Johnson, after all, was announced as being responsible for his own Star Wars trilogy even before Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released. The three new Star Wars dates announced May 7 are for Dec. 16, 2022; Dec. 20, 2024; and Dec. 18, 2026. It’s unclear if Benioff and Weiss’ trilogy will fill those dates, as Iger confirmed only that they will be making the 2022 film.
It’s possible that the Benioff and Weiss trilogy is getting off the ground first for purely logistical reasons; their schedules might be more clear with Game of Thrones’ finale airing on Sunday. By comparison, Johnson’s Knives Out isn’t released until November, with promotional duties meaning that he wouldn’t be able to devote himself entirely to Star Wars until early 2020, most likely — but with the next Star Wars not due for three years after Rise of Skywalker, perhaps there’s something more than scheduling at play here.
The placement of Benioff and Weiss at the helm of the first Star Wars project in the new era — post-Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which closes out the story that George Lucas started 40-plus years ago — could be seen as a statement on behalf of Lucasfilm in multiple ways.
Rian Johnson, at least, is somewhat of a known quantity when it comes to Star Wars, as needlessly controversial as The Last Jedi may have become inside the fandom. Benioff and Weiss, on the other hand, aren’t. Audiences might know them from Game of Thrones, but they’ve also worked on The Kite Runner, Troy and even X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Who really knows what kind of Star Wars they’ll come up with?
With what we’ll call Untitled Star Wars Project 1 from creators who haven’t previously worked on the property, or even created anything in the Space Opera vein at all — no, dragons and high fantasy don’t really count — Lucasfilm is underscoring just how unknown the future of Star Wars actually is: When in the larger mythology will the new movie be set? What kind of story will it tell, with what kind of tone? How, even, are the creators responsible for this new trilogy going to approach what many would consider to be the hallmarks of the franchise as a whole? Now that we know the release date and the creators responsible for the movie, the answer remains, very simply, we don’t know.
It’s an exciting place to be for Lucasfilm, and one that’s equally exciting and scary for fans. After five years of projects which have faithfully — perhaps, too faithfully — followed in the footsteps of the original trilogy, Star Wars once again feels like a property that has an entire galaxy to explore. All that remains to be seen across the next three and a half years is how long Lucasfilm and Disney will let that uncertainty remain as the status quo.