Disney+ is going big on Star Wars and Marvel.
Disney revealed during an investor presentation Thursday that over the next few years it is planning to launch 10 Star Wars series on Disney+, as well as 10 Marvel series on the streaming service. While eight Marvel Studios shows are already known to be in development, the news of 10 Star Wars series marks a serious ramping up for the franchise.
In addition to the 10 series, Disney revealed that Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins will direct the next theatrical Star Wars movie, Rogue Squadron. It is due out Christmas 2023, and is a personal story for Jenkins, who shared a video explaining that she has long wanted to make a fighter pilot movie in honor of late her father, fighter pilot William Jenkins, who died when the filmmaker was 7.
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) December 10, 2020
On the streaming side, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy revealed two new series, which will come from The Mandalorian executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni: Rangers of the New Republic and Ahsoka, centering on Rosario Dawson’s fan-favorite character. Both will take place within the timeline of The Mandalorian.
“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.
Kennedy also dropped the surprise news that Hayden Christensen will be back for the Obi-Wan miniseries starring Ewan McGregor as the Jedi master, 10 years after going into exile. Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels, will return to play Darth Vader, a role he briefly inhabited in the final moments of 2005’s Revenge of the Sith that saw Anakin turn to the dark side.
“This will be the rematch of the century,” said Kennedy.
In a video shown to investors, McGregor noted, “The most beautiful thing of all is that it’s brought me back together with Hayden.”
Another familiar name was added to the list of shows in the works: Lando, to be developed by Justin Simien. Donald Glover, who in Solo played a young version of the character originated by Billy Dee Williams, was not mentioned as part of the announcement.
Diego Luna’s Rogue One prequel was revealed to be called Andor, and is now in production, while a series from creator Leslye Headland, who earned two Emmy nominations for Russian Doll, was unveiled as The Acolyte, described as a mystery thriller set in the final days of the High Republic era.
The slew of Star Wars news underscores how important the brand has been for growing Disney+, and likewise, how the streaming service has become the go-to place for Star Wars at a time when the franchise’s big-screen future has been in flux.
Since The Mandalorian’s November 2019 debut, the breakout hit has helped power Disney+ to 86.8 million subscribers. The series has been a welcome balm for Lucasfilm, which had been rocked by behind-the-scenes turmoil that saw a series of film directors fired or depart projects in various stages. Disney’s Bob Iger acknowledged that perhaps Disney had done too much, too fast in the features department and said that there would be a big-screen break following 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.