Disney Investor Day 2020 saw Lucasfilm announce a dozen Star Wars and other projects. But three years on, what’s happened to them? We take a look…
In December 2020, while much of the world was reeling from the impact of the global pandemic, Disney decided to put on a show.
Clocking in at well over three hours, Disney Investor Day 2020 was intended as a glitzy celebration of everything the company had planned for cinemas and its Disney+ streaming platform, as well as a means of reassuring shareholders that, despite the tumult caused by Covid-19, the Mouse House had everything under control.
It was during that presentation – which also included contributions from Marvel’s Kevin Feige and other arms of Disney’s entertainment business – that came what we can only describe as the mother of all PowerPoint slides. It showed Lucasfilm’s proposed slate for the next few years, ranging from theatrical releases to additions to its ever-growing suite of TV shows.
In case you haven’t seen it before, here it is:
There was, however, a slight problem with this slide: several projects contained on it were so early in development that little existed beyond a logo. The recently-published book, MCU: The Reign Of Marvel Studios provides an insight into just how rushed the Disney Investor Day as a whole was.
“Both Feige and [Lucasfilm boss, Kathleen] Kennedy were pressured into announcing projects that were nowhere near ready,” one passage from the book reads, “some of which have since been cancelled…”
So almost three years on, what is there to say about Lucasfilm’s 2020 plans? What’s happened to those proposed projects – are they alive, dead, or trapped in limbo?
We’re glad you asked…
Here’s a nice, easy one to begin with. The Mandalorian made its debut with Disney+ itself in 2019, and the series is still going strong. Season three began in March 2023, and continued to bask in the generally cheerful reaction the saga has enjoyed so far. Season four is said to be written, but when it’s likely to air is currently unknown.
Rangers Of The Old Republic
Status: In limbo, almost certainly dead
Set during the same timeline as The Mandalorian, Rangers Of The Old Republic was announced as a spin-off TV series also headed up by Mando’s Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni. Little was said about the show in 2020, but it was widely reported that it would have starred Gina Carano as Cara Dune, the battle-hardened warrior introduced in The Mandalorian season one.
Following a series of controversial social media posts, however, Carano was quietly written out of The Mandalorian. In 2021, Kathleen Kennedy told Empire magazine that no scripts for Rangers Of The Old Republic had been written, but added that ideas planned for the series would “figure in future episodes” of The Mandalorian instead.
Announced at the same time as Rangers Of The Old Republic, Ahsoka was actually made, and aired on Disney+ from August this year. It probably helped that series star Rosario Dawson, who plays the titular Ahsoka Tano, has a far less contentious social media presence than Gina Corano. Although nothing has been confirmed yet, there are rumours that a second season has already been greenlit.
This TV spin-off is a prequel to Rogue One, which is a prequel to A New Hope. The series, about the earlier years of the title rebel Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), was well-received by critics. A second – and seemingly final – season is due in August 2024, and will reportedly connect the story back up to the events of Rogue One.
As promised, Ewan McGregor reprised his role as the young Ben in the 2022 Disney+ series, which ran for a total of six episodes. It was fine, from what we can remember.
The Bad Batch
This animated series, created by Dave Filoni, also happened, and two seasons have emerged so far, with the first making its streaming debut in 2021. Season three is said to be on the way in 2024.
Lucasfilm has a good batting average when it comes to pushing animated shows through to production. Like The Bad Batch, Visions made its debut in 2021, and has had two seasons so far.
Status: Alive, but has morphed
This is a curious one. Kathleen Kennedy announced Lando with a flourish during the Disney Investor Day presentation, describing it as an ‘event series’ about “The galaxy’s smoothest, most notorious scoundrel.”
The show, she added, would be written by Justin Simien, who broke into the industry thanks to his film and later TV series, Dear White People. Little else was announced about the project, other than it would see Donald Glover reprise his role as Lando Calrissian, having memorably appeared as the younger version of the character in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Annoyingly, Simien prepared some kind of sizzle reel or teaser designed to give “a sense of the style, tone and irresistible swagger” of his series concept, but this was cut out of the presentation for people watching at home.
Simien clearly spent some time working on his version of Lando around the year 2020, but hadn’t heard anything from Lucasfilm in the three years since. Earlier this year, Simien told The Direct, “I certainly poured my heart and spent a lot of time working with [Lucasfilm] to put together a really great show… I was told we had to put a pause on it because of scheduling. The next update I got [was in 2020] some years ago.”
Mere weeks after that interview, it was announced that Donald Glover would be co-writing Lando with his brother Stephen, and that it was no longer a TV show, but rather a movie. Incredibly, nobody at Lucasfilm appeared to think about telling Simien first. On his Instagram feed, Simien shared the Donald Glover news with the caption, “This is me finding out [right now].”
To date, there’s no official word about when Lando is likely to emerge.
Kathleen Kennedy described this upcoming show as “A mystery thriller that will take us into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging Dark Side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.” It’s being headed up by Leslye Headland, who scored a hit with Netflix’s Russian Doll, and it’s set to star Amanda Stenberg (Bodies Bodies Bodies) and Lee Jung-jae (Squid Game) as a Padawan and Jedi-master respectively. Although we haven’t seen anything from the production yet, The Acolyte is very much a live project, and should be emerging at some point in 2024.
A Droid Story
Status: Possibly in limbo, but equally likely to be alive.
An animated film developed by Industrial Light & Magic, A Droid Story was described by Kennedy as “a special Star Wars adventure” featuring R2-D2 and C-3P0. Besides that bickering duo, the film will introduce “a new hero” who’s guided by the droids on an epic journey “known only to them.” Seemingly as an afterthought, Kennedy added, “What could go wrong?”
It all sounded rather promising, particularly with ILM at the helm (have you seen the studio’s animated feature, Rango? Seriously, go and watch it). Since 2020, though, surprisingly little has been seen or heard from the project. It’s possible that ILM is working away on the film and Lucasfilm’s keeping everything under wraps. Impossible to see the future is.
Status: It was alive, but now it’s in #content purgatory
In the topsy-turvy world of Disney-Lucasfilm, even completed projects aren’t entirely safe from oblivion. Kennedy introduced this belated series, based on the 1988 fantasy film of the same name, as “A beloved mythological world created by George Lucas”. So beloved that Disney opted to have the entire series, made at a cost of over $100m, removed from its streaming service in May 2023, mere months after the final episode aired. At the time of writing, Willow isn’t available to watch anywhere by legal means.
Children Of Blood And Bone
Status: As far as Lucasfilm is concerned, dead.
Another non-Star Wars project in the works at Lucasfilm, this one was based on the best-selling young adult novels by Tomi Adeyemi. Children Of Blood And Bone was originally billed as a film, but it seems Lucasfilm may have jumped the gun somewhat with its announcement; by 2022, the rights to the books had lapsed, and have since passed over to Paramount Pictures.
Status: In limbo
This was, perhaps, the biggest announcement among Lucasfilm’s slate of projects teased in December 2020. A movie about a “new generation of star fighter pilots,” it was described as a “boundary-pushing, high-speed thrill-ride” by Kennedy, and was scheduled for release in December 2023. At the same time, it was announced that Patty Jenkins, who back then had just finished superhero sequel Wonder Woman 1984, would direct.
By the following year, however, the movie had been taken off Lucasfilm’s production calendar, and Jenkins confirmed that she’d left the film in 2022. Kathleen Kennedy still seems positive about Rogue Squadron, but she told IGN in April this year that she wasn’t sure “whether it’s a movie, or whether it ends up being in the series space.”
It is “definitely something,” though, she said.
Taika Waititi’s Star Wars project
Status: Not dead, just… slow?
This one isn’t actually on the slideshow captured earlier in this article, perhaps because it didn’t – and to date, still doesn’t – have an official title. In her announcement, Kennedy said writer-director Taika Waititi’s take on Star Wars would be “fresh, unexpected and unique”.
“His enormous talent and sense of humour will ensure that audiences are in for an unforgettable ride,” she said of Waititi’s proposed film. “He’s currently hard at work writing his next adventure.”
Since then, it’s one of those projects that has popped back up from time to time, with conflicting rumours suggesting it’s both dead and alive. In May, Kennedy offered an update: “Taika is working away from this. He’s just… slow. We’ve got a couple of acts, we need a third.”
Useful things, third acts.
Cloudy, with a chance of Star Wars
Lucasfilm’s presentation slide provides a snapshot of how turbulent the past few years have been for the company. While plenty of the projects listed did come to fruition, it’s still notable how many of them didn’t. Nor is it an exhaustive list of Star Wars projects either in the works or cancelled by Lucasfilm in recent years.
Among the projects we know about, there’s also Guillermo del Toro’s Jabba the Hutt movie (dead), Rian Johnson’s trilogy (unknown), and Marvel producer Kevin Feige’s Star Wars movie (dead). Then there are movies in the works from James Mangold, Dave Filoni, Shawn Levy, and more besides. Oh, and we almost forgot Skeleton Crew, a TV series presumably delayed by the various strikes we’ve seen of late.
To date, we haven’t seen a new Star Wars film appear in cinemas since 2019’s The Rise Of Skywalker. The next movie in the franchise is currently scheduled to land in the dim-and-distant 22nd May 2026; directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and written by Steven Knight, it will see Daisy Ridley return as Rey, and is thought to be called New Jedi Order. Though like a lot of things related to Star Wars, that title hasn’t been confirmed.
Clouded, this franchise’s future is.