Lucasfilm on Tuesday announced plans for a new series of Star Wars films made by the team behind Game of Thrones, as it seeks to build on the lucrative sci-fi franchise.
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of the smash-hit, Emmy Award-winning television series, are to write and produce new films that are separate from the main Skywalker saga and the trilogy being developed by Rian Johnson, writer-director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
“David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement. “Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting.”
Benioff and Weiss released a joint statement saying they had been dreaming of traveling to “a galaxy far, far away” since seeing the original movie in 1977.
“We are honored by the opportunity, a little terrified by the responsibility and so excited to get started as soon as the final season of Game of Thrones is complete,” they said.
Lucasfilm did not say how many movies would comprise the new series or announce release dates.
Disney boss Bob Iger said when Johnson’s trilogy was announced in November last year that the Star Wars franchise had been “exceeding expectations” since the entertainment giant acquired Lucasfilm in 2012.
The two films from the main series under Disney’s charge — The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017) — are among the top 10 highest grossing movies of all time, with US$2 billion and US$1.3 billion respectively.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), the first of three scheduled spin-off movies, also made more than US$1 billion, raising hopes for the success of the next, Solo: A Star Wars Story, which opens in May.
The announcement sparked excitement — and some grumbling — among fans of Game of Thrones, one of the most popular and talked-about cable shows in history, which begins its final, six-episode season next year.
“I can’t wait for a graphic C-3PO/R2-D2 sex scene in a galaxy far, far away,” joked one Twitter user, a reference to the frequent racy love scenes and nudity for which Thrones has become infamous.
However, not everyone was thrilled by the announcement, which once again underscored the lack of female or ethnic minority directors in the Star Wars universe in contrast to the diversity Lucasfilm has promoted in front of camera.
“Still no sign of ever seeing any part of a galaxy long time ago and far, far away as conceived of by a woman or person of color,” tweeted film executive Franklin Leonard, who founded The Black List, a yearly publication featuring Hollywood’s most popular unproduced screenplays.
The announcement came as the Walt Disney Co issued its first earnings report since announcing six weeks ago that it would buy much of rival studio 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets in a US$52 billion deal.
Walt Disney reported first-quarter earnings — up to Dec. 30 last year — of US$1.89 per share and revenue of US$15.4 billion.
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