New Star Wars film Rogue Squadron due in 2023

Los Angeles – Disney announced on Thursday a new Star Wars film from the female 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.

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.

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.

They are slated to premiere on Disney+ at Christmas next year.

“These interconnected shows, along with future stories, will excite new audiences, embrace our most passionate fans and will culminate in a climactic story event,” she said.

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, while Donald Glover will reprise his role from the 2018 film Solo: A Star Wars Story as the dashing titular smuggler. 

A previously announced Rogue One spinoff Disney+ series, titled Andor, has just begun production in London and will tell “the building of a revolution”, said returning Rogue One star Diego Luna as rebel alliance intelligence officer Cassian Andor.

Stellan Skarsgard and Fiona Shaw join the cast of the “tense, nailbiting 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 Kenobi, based on Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi.

It is another previously announced Disney+ series starring an also-returning Ewan McGregor and what Kennedy called the “rematch of the century”. 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 the 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 New Zealand director Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok), Kennedy confirmed, adding that his “approach to Star Wars will be fresh, unexpected and unique”. 

“This is a new era for Star Wars and Lucasfilm with expanded opportunities for continued innovation, high quality story-telling and cinematic experiences like never before,” she added.

Animated series coming to Disney+ in the next few years include A Droid Story, featuring the beloved C-3PO and R2D2, and The Bad Batch about experimental clones. - AFP/REUTERS