It sounds like a criticism, but Star Wars is in a peculiar and utterly unique kind of cultural limbo. Legions of people are demanding as much of it as possible, but will violently reject anything that a) isn’t within the boundaries of what Star Wars has come to “feel like”, and b) is too close to anything that Star Wars has already been. In this environment, it’s hard to know what to do – how to plan, who to turn to for help, what to do if you make a mistake.
Rian Johnson, on the other hand, seems to know exactly what he’s doing – since his very first movie he’s been delicately threading the needle between style and form, between untold different genres and a unified, self-contained story. So much of his go-round with the franchise, next month’s The Last Jedi, is currently under wraps, but it’s something of an open secret that everyone with a stake in it is satisfied with what they’ve gotten from Johnson.
That’s probably why Disney and Lucasfilm announced today that Johnson will be producing and masterminding an entirely new trilogy of Star Wars movies. Crucially, these movies are not currently numbered “Episode X” and so forth: The movies will feature completely new characters in an area of the galaxy we’ve never seen before, which will give Johnson just about the most leeway you can have while still attempting to perform that ludicrous balancing act.
Disney also announced a live-action Star Wars TV show will be available on its upcoming proprietary streaming service, set to launch in 2019. The service will feature more original shows based on Disney properties, but that’s still in much greater flux at the moment.