Lucasfilm had already announced that The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson will be creating his own new Star Wars trilogy. Now, the company has turned to the team behind HBO’s Game of Thrones to create another. It was announced today on the Star Wars website that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners behind HBO’s hit adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books, will be writing and producing their own series of films.
“David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement. “Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting.”
According to the release, the films will be distinct from the traditional “saga” films, as well as Johnson’s new trilogy. Other than that, details like time frame and setting are being kept quiet. (On today’s earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger simply said that the duo are “focused on a point in time in the Star Wars mythology and taking it from there.”) But the announcement does finally offer some sense of Disney and Lucasfilm’s larger strategy for the Star Wars franchise. Iger hasn’t been shy about admitting that the studio wants to keep making Star Wars films for the foreseeable future, but the recent focus has been on short-term projects like the final three installments in the Skywalker saga, as well as one-off standalone films like Rogue One and the forthcoming Solo. The deals with Johnson as well as Benioff and Weiss point to a strategy that will focus on the kind of interconnected stories that Star Wars has always been known for, without forcing the franchise to hew to a grand, all-in-one narrative timeline like that of Marvel’s cinematic universe.
The news also appears to clarify Benioff and Weiss’ post-Game of Thrones plans. HBO had previously announced that the team would be developing and writing a new series for the network called Confederate. It was meant to depict an alternate-timeline version of America in which the Civil War ended with the Southern states successfully seceding and American slavery still existed as a result. The project quickly came under fire. HBO defended the plan with a statement that said, in part, “We recognize the sensitivity of this project and will treat it with the respect that it deserves.”
Since then, it’s been unclear whether Confederate has been on hold or just in development. But the time commitment a new series of Star Wars films would demand certainly suggests the HBO project isn’t moving forward for the time being, or that Benioff and Weiss’ involvement may have been scaled back. Part of the reason Confederate raised eyebrows initially was the fact that Game of Thrones has been particularly egregious in its portrayals of rape and violence, and some critics felt the showrunners were a poor choice for such sensitive subject matter. The fact that they’re now transitioning to a massive intellectual property being run by family-friendly Disney presents a different kind of dilemma — but perhaps they’ll at least find a way to finally give Gwendoline Christie some quality screen-time in a Star Wars movie.
Update February 6th, 5:42PM ET: Added Bob Iger comment from Disney’s investors call.