When The Rise of Skywalker premieres on Dec. 20, it will undoubtedly be a bittersweet moment for fans of the franchise. After all, it represents the end of the main storyline that has long been the core of the Star Wars cinematic universe. The Skywalker saga has informed other television shows, comics, movies, and books. Nearly every Star Wars property has connections to the Skywalker saga, and given its imminent end, fans are likely wondering about the future of Star Wars franchise.
Trailers for Rise of the Skywalker have thus far featured connections that date all the way back to the original trilogy and its prequels. As Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) all struggle to reignite the Resistance and stand against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order, they're all haunted by what many fans are calling a literal specter of the past: Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), the former leader of the Empire whose voice and chilling laugh tease a return of one of the Star Wars universe's greatest villains.
Previously, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, was working on a Star Wars film. As the leader of a studio that churned out massive blockbuster trilogies and the long-running Avengers saga that brought in massive box office numbers, it tracks that Feige would be in the running for a Star Wars flick. Walt Disney Studios co-chairman Alan Horn told THR: "With the close of the Skywalker Saga, Kathy [Kathleen Kennedy] is pursuing a new era in Star Wars storytelling, and knowing what a die-hard fan Kevin [Feige] is, it made sense for these two extraordinary producers to work on a Star Wars film together."
Rian Johnson is also slated to return for another Star Wars film, after directing 2017's The Last Jedi. But progress for his next Star Wars film seems nebulous at best, as he told Deadline in November, "We're still engaged with Lucasfilm and we'll wait and see. No updates on it at this moment."
The galaxy's wide open for whomever might be helming the next Star Wars film. In a chat with Rolling Stone, Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy said the company doesn't have any idea where they'll be going just yet, but added cryptically, "We've got various things we're looking at and various ways in which we can begin or not. As you can imagine. You know, do you go back? Do you go forward? All those questions are being asked. Do we stay in this galaxy? Do we go to another? The universe is never-ending."
Kennedy expressed similar sentiments in an interview with the LA Times, saying, "What we've been focused on these last five or six years is finishing that family saga around the Skywalkers. Now is the time to start thinking about how to segue into something new and different." One unexpected difference that Kennedy plans on enacting is a departure from the traditional trilogy format. In the same LA Times interview she said, "I think it gives us a more open-ended view of storytelling and doesn't lock us into this three-act structure. We're not going to have some finite number and fit it into a box. We're really going to let the story dictate that."
The trilogy format has defined the Skywalker saga, and a departure from it invites interesting options as far as storytelling is concerned. By ditching the formula that has informed much of Star Wars (and, in part, many other trilogy-based series), there's potential for new and exciting stories set in a familiar and wide open universe. It will be incredibly interesting to see just how everything fits together in this already massive galaxy.