At the Scale: The Future of Tech and Entertainment conference in Santa Monica, California, Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke on a variety of topics, from his tenure at Disney, the next installments of the Star Wars franchise, and that the company is looking at what comes after 2019’s Episode IX.
According to Variety, Iger reaffirmed that Disney would not digitally re-create Carrie Fisher’s General Leia as they had done in last year’s Rogue One, but also stated no other changes were being made to the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi in light of Fisher’s passing earlier this year. “Her performance remains as it was in [Episode] 8,” he said.
The CEO also dropped some hints about the upcoming standalone Han Solo film, confirming some long-standing fan expectations that it would explain how the character came to possess the Millennium Falcon. According to reports, Iger also said that the film will show how Solo met his Wookiee sidekick Chewbacca, and that audiences will “also discover how he got his name,” an unasked question if ever there was one.
Most importantly, Iger spoke about Disney’s further plans for the future of the Star Wars franchise. When Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, it announced that it would produce Episodes 7, 8, and 9, as well as look into releasing new films beyond that. Those additional films ended up becoming the three standalone films that have already been announced, and which kicked off in earnest with last year’s Rogue One. But Iger reportedly revealed that Disney is looking at what comes well beyond that, exploring “what could be another decade and a half of Star Wars stories.”
It’s not clear if that means additional “Skywalker saga” films like The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, new standalone stories, or an entirely new franchise set within the Star Wars world. But if that timeline is accurate, that would mean that Disney is aiming to keep the franchise going through at least the early 2030s. There’s obviously a lot of things that could go awry over the next 18 years, but that kind of long-term exploitation of the property matches the model Disney has pursued with both Marvel and Pixar.
What’s also notable here is that Iger likely won’t be around to shepherd those particular projects. He confirmed that he will be stepping down in 2019, according to The Wall Street Journal, though he will remain on as a consultant for the company for three years thereafter. Iger originally planned to retire in 2015, and then again in 2016, but delayed the move in both cases. This time, however, he noted that he’s serious.