Will Star Wars 8 and 9 be followed by yet another trilogy?
George Lucas always planned for 12 films - but not quite the way they are panning out
As Star Wars fans worldwide grapple with their Rogue One comedown, the focus is now turning towards the next instalment of the principal saga.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a mere appetiser to the main trilogy, the third in the series. It continues late this year with episode 8, which comes a full two years after the first instalment, The Force Awakens, stormed cinema screens.
Episode 9 is slated for 2019, but after that, Star Wars devotees want to know, will there be a fourth trilogy?
Why would there be?
Well, Star Wars creator George Lucas originally planned 12 films in the series, say super-fans on Reddit. A hastily-scribbled list on a yellow lined notebook clearly indicates his plans for a dozen adventures.Of that list, episodes 6-8 were intended to be the original trilogy, and episodes 2-4 to be a prequel. The last episodes, 9-12, were left blank. But they're definitely there.
Plus, 12 is a nice number for stories, particularly epics - it's the same number as Virgil's Aeneid and half the number of parts in the Odyssey.
Remind me of the instalments as they stand…
Of course, as every Star Wars fan knows, the numbering of the saga is messy. The original trilogy was composed of episodes 4-6. That was followed by the much-reviled prequels, episodes 1-3, the last of which, Revenge of the Sith, came out in 2005.
Finally, after a decade-long hiatus, The Force Awakens - episode 7 - returned the franchise to cinema screens in 2015. Episode 8 is due in cinemas in December and episode 9 the year after.
Rogue One, meanwhile, was a sort of anthology episode, to sit alongside the main saga and not in it. If you put the epic into chronological order, it's positioned between episodes 3 and 4.
So are they going to do a fourth trilogy?
Quite possibly, although nothing has been confirmed. Last September, Deadline reported Disney chief Bob Iger had talked up long-term plans for the franchise to investors. He also said another stand-alone Star Wars film has been pencilled in for 2020.
Once these are out of the way, "it’s likely Disney will simply keep the ball rolling", Yahoo Tech says. Reports say Iger's thoughts are now extending into 2021 and beyond.
"We have a great system in place,” he said.
What would a fourth set be about?
Despite the black box of secrecy that surrounds any upcoming Star Wars plot, rumours have already been doing the rounds. MovieWeb cites an industry insider who claims a fourth trilogy would focus on Darth Vader's early years under Emperor Palpatine.
"Darth Vader will rise from the ashes," the insider said, declaring that the character was too powerful to ever disappear from the franchise.
There could also be room for a teenage Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, showing them joining the Imperial Army as new recruits.
And in the meantime?
Until - and if - any of that comes into fruition, fans will have to content themselves with the next couple of episodes – of which we know very little. The official title for episode 8 has not even been released yet.
However, AVSForum says Lucasfilm has filed a trademark to the EU intellectual property office for Star Wars: Forces of Destiny and speculates this could well be the next film.
In terms of characters, we should see the return of Luke Skywalker, Rey, Chewbacca and Kylo Ren, while Benicio del Toro plays a villain, NME says.
And what about Carrie Fisher?!
The death of Carrie Fisher in December "has left a disturbance in the Force", the Hollywood Reporter says. Her character has at least two scenes planned in episodes 8 and 9, an insider told the website, and not trifling ones either - they included a reunion with Luke Skywalker and a stand-off with Kylo Ren, who memorably murdered Han Solo in The Force Awakens.
Luckily, shooting for the eighth episode has already wrapped, the Radio Times reports, so that instalment shouldn't be too much of a problem.
But that still leaves episode 9, where Fisher's role was actually supposed to be bigger than in the previous episode, the Hollywood Reporter claims. The film's director Colin Trevorrow - of Jurassic World fame - is heading to LA later in January to meet with Lucasfilm and discuss options.
That could include CGI - which filmmakers already used to make Leia appear young again in Rogue One. Or they could write her out of the script, or at the very least reduce her role. Fortunately, they've got a couple of years to figure it out.