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Star Wars Episode 10 - Will It Ever Happen?

Ever since Disney and Lucasfilm released "Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker" in the late winter of 2019, the "Star Wars" franchise has been in an awkward place. This beloved property — which began its life as a series of three, then six, films, before growing into an expanded universe with numbered installments and spin-offs in equal measure — quickly became all about isolated stories scattered across time and space. Gone are Rey, Finn, and Poe, now replaced by live-action versions of animated characters from "The Clone Wars" and de-aged cameos from the first two trilogies.

As Lucasfilm continues releasing (perfectly fine) series on Disney+ and canceling films meant for the big screen, it seems as though the end of "The Skywalker Saga" also brought about the end of the franchise's expansion. It's as though we've seen the edges of the universe, and can only hope to watch talented creators try valiantly to fill in the spaces between.

For those longing for stories that push the "Star Wars" canon forward, you're likely waiting patiently for the announcement of a 10th installment in the main series. After all, many questions were left unanswered after Rey infamously took on the surname of the most hated family in the galaxy — surely there's enough narrative potential for a "Star Wars: Episode X," isn't there?

Why isn't Star Wars Episode X happening yet?

While there isn't a definitive reason as to why there's been no movement on either a "Star Wars: Episode X" or some sort of fourth trilogy, there are certainly several possible roadblocks that can be neatly united under one idea: Disney and Lucasfilm don't really have an incentive to make "Star Wars: Episode X."

Despite the parent company promising in 2015 that new "Star Wars" films would be theatrically released every single year in perpetuity, it took less than five years for Disney to limp away from this idea with its mouse-tail between its legs, due to the back-to-back disappointments of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" and "Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker." The former received lukewarm reviews and failed to recoup its budget, while the latter drew an even worse critical reception and didn't even crack the top five highest-grossing films of 2019 (for comparison, its two predecessors in the sequel trilogy both finished first in their respective years).

Now, many readers are likely quick to note the success "Star Wars" has seen on TV during this period. It's true, the "Star Wars" Disney+ series have been mostly well-received, some of them arguably defining the tone, style, and narrative direction of the franchise's future. But that's just it — if Disney has found a reliable formula for success with the streaming format, what's pushing them to theatrically release anything? 

Why a 10th Star Wars movie would be Disney's boldest move yet

Since acquiring Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney has been far from shy about expanding (and adding more than a few twists and changes to) the vast mythology George Lucas established over the course of the first six "Star Wars" films. From "Solo" and "Rogue One" to television shows like "The Mandalorian" and "Andor," there are plenty of projects within this universe that have little to no relation to the visions Lucas expressed for the future of the series.

However, when it comes to the mainline "Star Wars" movies, the sequel trilogy was still within the parameters of where Lucas wanted to take the universe. Within the 12 "Star Wars" movies (yes, you've read that correctly) he was interested in making, nine of them were segmented into three trilogies. Lucas' idea for the third trilogy (Episodes VII, VIII, and IX) was that it would follow a female protagonist fighting a reborn threat from the dark side while Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) attempts to revive the Jedi Order and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) leads a fledgling government and military force. All fine details aside, this is broadly what Disney wound up doing with the sequel trilogy.

Making an "Episode X," however, would extend the mainline "Star Wars" series beyond what Lucas originally thought (the remaining three films he conceptualized were seemingly standalone spin-offs). This doesn't necessarily mean such a movie shouldn't be made, just that it would be a bold move into unknown territory for the House of Mouse.

What have Disney and Lucasfilm said about the future of Star Wars?

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy spoke to Variety about the future of the "Star Wars" franchise in 2023, sounding decidedly optimistic about upcoming film projects. Key among them were Daisy Ridley's solo "Rey" adventure, director Taika Waititi's feature film ("Taika is still working away ... He has a very, very unique voice"), and Rian Johnson's long-awaited trilogy ("Rian and I talk all the time. He is unbelievably busy ... But he really wants to step back into the space"). In all, Kennedy came across just as eager to collaborate as she was to manage expectations about the timeline of their plans.

However, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger shared a much more cautious perspective at a media industry conference. Answering a question about the present vitality (or lack thereof) of the studios with which he built his career by folding them into Disney, Iger admitted that the box-office numbers for "Solo" caused executives to reevaluate their previously "aggressive" release strategy. On the subject of future "Star Wars" films as a whole, he offered (via Deadline), "We're going to make sure when we make one, it's the right one. So we're being very careful there." It's probably safe to say that — especially after "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" bombed at the box office — Iger and Disney are looking at future Lucasfilm features with increased scrutiny.

What has the cast said about the future of Star Wars?

With Han, Luke, and Leia all having passed on in the "Star Wars" canon, "Star Wars: Episode X" would presumably need to bring back some combination of Rey Skywalker (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). Fan-favorite Adam Driver has ruled himself out of appearing as the deceased Kylo Ren/Ben Solo again, telling the SmartLess podcast, "I'm not doing any more."

Daisy Ridley is already returning for an upcoming Rey-focused film. Isaac, meanwhile, has gone back and forth on his "Star Wars" future. In 2020, he joked that he'd only return to the franchise if he needed another house. In 2022, however, he said in a SiriusXM interview that he was entirely open to returning to the franchise under the right circumstances. "I'm open to any good story," he said. "Time is the one thing that becomes challenging...as you get older and kids and all that. Where do [movies] fit in? If there was a great story and a great director... then I'm so open to it."

Boyega shares a similar perspective to Isaac, despite having been understandably critical of how the films handled his and other non-white characters. In an interview with TechRadar, he contextualized the criticisms that he made in 2020, saying, "That was a few years ago, so [those comments] were the subject of that particular project. But I'm open to all characters and scripts that are enjoyable, have a great cast attached, and a terrific director."

Could the Rey Skywalker solo movie secretly be Episode X?

Daisy Ridley's "untitled Rey Skywalker film" is still in pre-production, and yet rumors are still swirling that it may indeed turn out to be "Star Wars: Episode X." At face value, this makes perfect sense — Rey was the undisputed lead of the sequel trilogy, and seemed poised to carry the torch of the franchise forward, at least in some capacity. Unfortunately, statements made by Ridley make the project sound less like a mainline "Star Wars" film and more like a standalone "Star Wars Story."

Ridley told Collider in 2023 that she had yet to read a script for the upcoming film, but cryptically added, "It's not what I expected, but I'm very excited." At the time, Ridley had only been briefed on the general storyline for the film, which was apparently enough to catch her off-guard. Despite this, she's unaware of any plans for this solo outing to kick-start a new trilogy. "I know the storyline for one film," she said. "That's not to say that that's all it is, but that's what I was told about."

This untitled film will be written by Steven Knight and directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, her first live-action feature film project after directing two episodes of the Disney+ series "Ms. Marvel." Would Rey Skywalker be a part of "Episode X" if and/or when it gets greenlit? Almost definitely. But does that necessarily mean this film is set to be the start of the next main trilogy? Right now, we're leaning toward "no."

Will Rian Johnson direct Star Wars: Episode X?

It's been over six years since it was announced that Rian Johnson would direct a trio of "Star Wars" films, but there's been no real movement toward this becoming a reality. So it's unlikely that anyone involved (including Johnson himself) knows exactly what story he'd like to tell or if it would fit into the canon as a mainline "Star Wars" trilogy.

Kathleen Kennedy is insistent that Johnson, director of the critically acclaimed but highly controversial "Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi," still plans to helm his own "Star Wars" trilogy. But in the years since "The Last Jedi" premiered, Johnson has worked on original projects like "Knives Out" and its sequel, "Glass Onion," as well as the Peacock crime procedural "Poker Face." Despite saying that she and Johnson were regularly communicating, Kennedy acknowledged to Variety that making the trilogy would be "a big commitment of time" for the director, and essentially said that it was up to Johnson to decide when he wanted to take the plunge.

Johnson sounded enthusiastic about making a "Star Wars" trilogy in 2022, but wouldn't definitively commit to making it happen. At present, he's focused on making another "Knives Out" film, and has expressed interest in continuing to work in that universe as long as possible. Whether or not three "Star Wars" films can fit into these aspirations is anyone's guess, though it's hard to imagine any director juggling an intricate passion project and a blockbuster tentpole at the same time.

What happened to the trilogy from the Game of Thrones showrunners?

In February 2018 — well over a year before they would wrap up the controversial final season of the HBO series that put them on the map — it was announced that Disney and Lucasfilm had brought "Game of Thrones" creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss in to write and direct their own original "Star Wars" movie trilogy. But the plans for this trilogy never saw the light of day and were effectively killed less than two years after the duo were hired.

About a month before the release of "Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker," Benioff and Weiss somewhat shockingly parted ways with the "Star Wars" universe, leaving whatever trilogy plans they reportedly had to the annals of canceled "Star Wars" projects. (We say "somewhat" because, by this point, Lucasfilm had already lost Phil Lord and Chris Miller and "Jurassic World" director Colin Trevorrow on different projects, growing the company's reputation for churning through creatives behind the scenes.)

While one might assume the pair were axed due to the increasingly poor reception received by the final episodes of "Game of Thrones," sources have indicated it may have had more to do with their commitments to Netflix. In August 2019, Benioff and Weiss signed an overall deal with the streamer, with their first project being the sci-fi epic "3 Body Problem."

Jon Favreau is directing the next Star Wars film -- but it's not Episode X

Since bringing the Disney+ series "The Mandalorian" to life in 2019, "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau has become a fresh and welcome talent at Lucasfilm. Often collaborating with Chief Creative Officer (and beloved "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" showrunner) Dave Filoni, their more grounded, steady approach to the mythos has clearly resonated with viewers, and in some ways has helped "Star Wars" transition into a new phase of storytelling. But while this might make Favreau a fine choice to direct a "Star Wars" film, he won't be working on "Star Wars: Episode X" — at least, not anytime soon.

Favreau is set to bring "Star Wars'" back to theaters with a feature film titled "The Mandalorian and Grogu," which is currently aiming for a 2026 release date. The story will serve as a continuation of "The Mandalorian," though it will likely have a larger narrative scope and higher stakes than what we've seen in the series so far. Filoni will produce the film alongside Kathleen Kennedy, who said in a statement for the official "Star Wars" website, "Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have ushered into 'Star Wars' two new and beloved characters, and this new story is a perfect fit for the big screen."

Should "The Mandalorian and Grogu" surpass expectations critically and commercially, it isn't difficult to picture Lucasfilm giving Favreau a chance to make another film — potentially a series or trilogy, maybe even "Episode X." For now, such possibilities are too far off to entertain seriously.

Taika Waititi's film also won't be Episode X

Though he's had back-to-back disappointing releases with the Marvel Cinematic Universe sequel "Thor: Love and Thunder" and the sorta-true sports biopic "Next Goal Wins," Taika Waititi remains undeterred in his efforts to direct his own "Star Wars" film. This untitled project (co-written by Waititi and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, the Academy Award-nominated writer of "1917") has reportedly been in the works since 2020, and yet — much like the potential trilogy from by Rian Johnson — it has seen almost no movement.

Neither Johnson's nor Waititi's "Star Wars" futures are clear enough to understand much, but Waititi specifically seems ruled out for the director's chair on an "Episode X" of the main series. The first clue is that, unlike Johnson, Waititi has only been tapped to helm one film — a film which he's been seemingly writing at a very relaxed pace for several years. While there's nothing wrong with the idiosyncratic director taking a patient approach to developing his story (especially if we're hoping for a slightly cleaner final product than "Love and Thunder"), it's doubtful Kathleen Kennedy would leave Waititi entirely to his own devices for the next installment of the main series. Whenever Waititi's film arrives, it will likely be a standalone, self-contained story with little impact on the wider "Star Wars" galaxy.

What about the rest of the upcoming Star Wars films and TV shows?

Though Disney may only be cautiously optimistic about the future of "Star Wars" in theaters — and entirely silent on the possibility of a "Star Wars: Episode X" ever getting made — they seem to be gearing up for a resurgence of sorts. In addition to the films that could theoretically be the 10th main "Star Wars" film, there are at least four more "Star Wars" feature films in development.

"Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" director James Mangold has been brought into the fold to tell a "Star Wars" story set thousands of years before "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace." This untitled film will explore the lives of the very first Force users. And while the long-awaited "Lando" project may be dead as a series, writer Stephen Glover recently said in an update that Lucasfilm is now developing it as a movie. Finally, both Dave Filoni and "Deadpool and Wolverine" director Shawn Levy each have "Star Wars" films in development, with Filoni's being hyped as an "Avengers: Endgame"-style crossover and conclusion for his cadre of characters.

Can "Star Wars: Episode X" even fit into this schedule? It seems Disney — for better or worse — may have fully let go of "Star Wars" as a series of films with spin-offs, now embracing it as a shared cinematic universe with tie-ins rather than direct sequels. If this is truly the case, we may never see "Star Wars: Episode X."