Disney has announced a new Star Wars film will appear yearly from 2015, alternating between new episodes in the space saga and spinoff character films.
The announcement, made at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, was reported by Comingsoon.
Star Trek director JJ Abrams will begin the new cycle of movies with Episode VII, from a script by Little Miss Sunshine writer Michael Arndt.
Star Wars creator George Lucas sold his film production company Lucasfilm to Disney last year for $4.05 billion.
The latest announcement was made by Walt Disney Co chairman Alan Horn, at the annual movie theatre convention CinemaCon in Las Vegas.
In February, Disney announced that alongside a new trilogy, a series of films built around existing characters from the Star Wars universe were in development.
JJ Abrams will begin the new cycle of Star Wars movies with Episode VII, the first to be released in 2015
It is rumored the first stand-alone film could focus on the diminutive Jedi master Yoda.
The spinoff films will be written by Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg.
Lawrence Kasdan worked on the scripts of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – the second and third installments of the first Star Wars trilogy while Simon Kinberg is best known for his work on X-Men: The Last Stand and Guy Ritchie’s hit reboot of Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr.
Fans’ reactions to Disney’s announcement on social networks and film websites have been mixed.
The original Star Wars film starred Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford as they took on the evil Empire “in a galaxy, far, far away”.
In a recent interview George Lucas hinted at a cast reunion, revealing the trio were “in final stages of negotiation”.
Films built around existing characters from the Star Wars universe are being developed alongside the new trilogy of films, the Disney studio has revealed.
“We are working on a few stand-alone films… derived from great Star Wars characters,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told the CNBC channel on Tuesday.
The films, written by Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg, will be released between 2015 and 2021, he continued.
Star Wars: Episode VII, directed by JJ Abrams, is due out in 2015.
Disney bought George Lucas’s Lucasfilm company for $4.05 billion last year, saying it was committed to at least three new films.
The first of these, Star Wars: Episode VII, will be scripted by Michael Arndt, the Oscar-winning writer of Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine.
Bob Iger outlined the studio’s plans with CNBC ahead of a call with analysts to discuss the Disney company’s latest financial results.
Films built around existing characters from the Star Wars universe are being developed alongside the new trilogy of films
Despite seeing a slight dip in its quarterly earnings, the CEO said the studio was “confident about the year ahead, as well as our ability to create continued long-term growth”.
While speaking to CNBC, Bob Iger admitted there had been “speculation” about “some stand-alone films” that would not form “part of the overall saga”.
“We still plan to make Star Wars 7, 8 and 9 roughly over a six-year period of time starting in 2015,” he went on.
“But there are going to be a few other films released in that period of time too.”
Lawrence Kasdan has a long association with Lucasfilm, having worked on the scripts of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – the second and third installments of the first Star Wars trilogy.
Simon Kinberg’s own screenwriting credits include comic book sequel X-Men: The Last Stand, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Guy Ritchie’s 2009 Sherlock Holmes film.
Tuesday’s announcement was preceded by a report on the Ain’t It Cool News site that the first stand-alone film would focus on the diminutive Jedi master Yoda.
“Word is Yoda is first,” wrote website founder Harry Knowles in a posting that also mentioned such other Star Wars staples as bounty hunter Boba Fett and slug-like gangster Jabba the Hutt.
Sci-fi director JJ Abrams will direct the seventh Star Wars film, Lucasfilm owner Walt Disney Co has announced.
Star Wars creator George Lucas said he was the “ideal choice” to direct the movie – due out in 2015 – adding “the legacy couldn’t be in better hands”.
It will be scripted by Oscar-winning writer Michael Arndt.
JJ Abrams, who co-created Lost and directed the Star Trek reboot, said he was “more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid”.
In October, Disney announced it had bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion and was committed to three new films.
Former Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, who will produce the films, said JJ Abrams was “the perfect director to helm this”.
“Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise – he understands the essence of the Star Wars experience,” she said in a statement.
JJ Abrams will direct the seventh Star Wars film
JJ Abrams, who has also directed films including Mission: Impossible III and Super 8, said in a 2009 interview with the Los Angeles Times that, “as a kid, Star Wars was much more my thing than Star Trek was”.
The original Star Wars trilogy – which consists of the original film in 1977, 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi – was always envisioned by George Lucas as the central chunk of a nine-movie cycle.
The films followed the fortunes of young hero Luke Skywalker, cocky pilot Han Solo and the feisty Princess Leia as they battled against the Galactic Empire.
A trilogy of Star Wars prequels – 1999’s The Phantom Menace, 2002’s Attack of the Clones and 2005’s Revenge of the Sith – followed.
Disney has previously said George Lucas would remain as a creative consultant on the series.
In October, George Lucas revealed he had written story treatments for the seventh, eighth and ninth installments which he would hand over to Kathleen Kennedy.