Lucasfilm has needed to dramatically alter their plans for 2020, and that could be for the best moving forward. When Disney acquired the studio back in 2012, it was announced Lucasfilm would release annual tentpoles, similar to their Mouse House brethren Pixar and Marvel. The first few years of the Star Wars renaissance went about as well as anyone could have hoped, with The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi combining to gross more than $4 billion at the worldwide box office. However, the hot streak came to a screeching halt this summer when Solo failed commercially.
In the aftermath of this unprecedented event, Lucasfilm is apparently taking their foot off the gas pedal so they can reevaluate some things before launching a new slate. Rumors suggest future spinoffs like Obi-Wan and Boba Fett have been put on hold for the time being, while officially announced projects like Rian Johnson's new trilogy continue to forge ahead. At one point, Lucasfilm was set to celebrate the start of a new decade in style, but now they could be sitting 2020 on the sidelines.
What Were Lucasfilm's 2020 Plans?
Lucasfilm never confirmed a Star Wars movie for 2020, but the general assumption for a while was that a third entry in the anthology series would hit the big screen that year. The much-speculated Obi-Wan spinoff was deemed the likeliest candidate, especially when word got out it was aiming to begin production in spring 2019. Last year, this particular project started to gain traction when director Stephen Daldry reportedly became attached, and Obi-Wan received the working title Joshua Tree, indicating it was far along in pre-production.
What Disney and Lucasfilm did have on the schedule, however, was Indiana Jones 5. A fifth adventure for the world famous archeologist was announced back in 2016 (with Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford back in the fold), originally for a 2019 release. It was later delayed to July 2020, which made the possibility of a Star Wars movie that year less likely. Lucasfilm never premiered new Star Wars and Indy installments in the same year, so a prevailing theory was that Indiana Jones 5 was going to be the studio's big 2020 tentpole and keep the machine chugging while they plotted the next course for the galaxy far, far away. Unfortunately, things aren't going to turn out this way due to a variety of factors.
Staying with Indiana Jones 5, it was recently reported the film is going to be delayed for an undetermined period, likely causing it to miss its 2020 debut. The reasoning for this seems to stem from the script, which was originally written by longtime Spielberg collaborator David Koepp. Apparently, the higher-ups aren't fans of what he turned in, calling upon Solo co-writer Jonathan Kasdan to replace Koepp and pen the screenplay. Because of the difficulties cracking the story, Lucasfilm is opting to take their time, which is a smart call. Spielberg and Ford are said to remain committed, though Spielberg may move on to one of his many other in-development projects in the interim. As of now, Indiana Jones 5 is still going to happen, it's just a matter of when the time is right.
As for Star Wars, the situation is fairly more complex. Obi-Wan was allegedly going through problems even before Solo tanked at the box office, losing Daldry long ago. There's even word that it was being saved for Disney's streaming service, so it may never have intended to be a theatrical tentpole to begin with. Boba Fett may become a smaller-budgeted film to reflect Solo's worldwide gross, though it's difficult to say what is and isn't accurate about these films since Lucasfilm has always remained silent on this front. Even if more individual character spinoffs eventually movie forward, it doesn't look like anything will be ready to take that 2020 slot. And that may not be the worst thing in the world.
Page 2: Lucasfilm Could Use A Break
A Break Would Benefit Lucasfilm
People like to compare Lucasfilm to Marvel Studios, but that isn't exactly fair. In the modern age of tentpole filmmaking, Marvel has fine-tuned their formula over the course of a decade, while Star Wars only came back less than three years ago. Yes, Lucasfilm has been at the forefront of the industry for 40 years, but it shouldn't surprise anyone that there's a bit of a learning curve here in the 21st century. Even Marvel had some bumps in the road (The Incredible Hulk) in their early stages. Right now, Lucasfilm is in a bit of an experimental phase where they're testing things out and seeing what works.
Solo was generally well-received by critics and audiences, but there were a number of things Disney and Lucasfilm could have done better. The project was mismanaged on just about every conceivable level, with Lucasfilm willingly letting the production budget sail past $250 million (firing the directors they hired two years prior). Disney, on the other hand, played hardball by reportedly rejecting a proposed release date shift to December 2018 and refusing to let Solo interfere with Avengers: Infinity War promotion. Fortunately, these seem like relatively easy fixes, the studios just need to take some time to rethink their strategies so they put their movies in the best possible position to succeed. In years past, they've demonstrated an adeptness at this, so Episode IX should be a nice rebound (even with Jumanji 3 lurking in the shadows).
Maybe things turn out differently if Solo is a hit and broke the Memorial Day weekend records some thought it would. There would then be something concrete illustrating a sizable market for solo Star Wars character films, and Lucasfilm could confidently announce more. As it stands, an argument can be made they were pursuing the wrong types of Star Wars stories, ones that lacked a clear hook to get audiences excited (you need more of a sales pitch than "Obi-Wan in the desert"). It reads as an intelligent business decision for Lucasfilm to take a step back and not rush into anything that isn't guaranteed to work. They could have been stubborn and forced something, but they'd rather hold off until they were absolutely certain. With all the behind-the-scenes turmoil Star Wars has had recently, that can only help.
For those wondering, it seems highly unlikely either of the confirmed Star Wars film series will be ready to launch by 2020. Benioff & Weiss are currently preoccupied with the final season of HBO's Game of Thrones, and won't shift gears to the galaxy far, far away until after bidding farewell to the Westeros. As for Johnson's trilogy, that is actively being worked on, but the director has indicated he wants to map out the full story before shooting, and there's no telling how long that will take. If the first installment of Johnson's trilogy were to reach theaters in 2020, it would need to enter production at some point next year. Plus, prime release dates in 2020 are hard to come by. Solo was just defeated by Infinity War and Deadpool 2, so Lucasfilm probably wants to avoid high-profile competition. December 2020 already has a showdown between Avatar 2 and Sherlock Holmes 3, so that's out of the question. Indiana Jones 5's month of July has Minions 2 and untitled DC and Marvel films.
The post-Episode IX future of Lucasfilm seems murkier than it was just a handful of months ago, but so far there isn't anything that should raise concerns. What's happening on Indy 5 is fairly common in Hollywood, and the officially announced Star Wars projects are still a go. Of course, the studio is going to need to clear the air at some point in the near future. Since they don't have anything major planned for San Diego Comic-Con, it would be plausible for there to be some kind of an announcement at next year's Star Wars Celebration, which takes place in April. Star Wars 9 will be the focus, but everyone's curious about what's next.