The next Star Wars movie will be The Mandalorian & Grogu

Coming to theaters ... at some point

The next Star Wars movie will be The Mandalorian & Grogu
Image: Lucasfilm

Lucasfilm announced that its next theatrical Star Wars film will The Mandalorian & Grogu, a spinoff of its streaming series, The Mandalorian. The film is slated to go into production later this year, and will be directed by Jon Favreau (creator of The Mandalorian, director of such films as Iron Man, The Lion King, and others.)

The film will be the first theatrical release in the franchise since 2019's The Rise of Skywalker, which capped off the "Skywalker Saga" – episodes 1-9. Since then, Lucasfilm has put the brakes on the series after a series of cancelled films and diminishing box-office expectations, not to mention a global pandemic and strikes from both the actors and writers guilds in Hollywood.

Not for the lack of trying: Lucasfilm has announced ambitious projects since then. In December 2020, the studio laid out a Marvel Cinematic Universe-like roadmap for the future of the franchise on Disney+ and in theaters: ten shows / seasons, with a pair of Mandalorian spinoffs (Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic), and a new theatrical film, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, to be directed by Wonder Woman's Patty Jenkins.

Had everything gone to plan, that film would have come out last month, but it's remained in a sort of limbo and while it might still be in some form of development, it wasn't on the last roadmap that Lucasfilm unveiled back at Star Wars Celebration in London in April 2023: three new films to be directed by James Mangold (a "Dawn of the Jedi" film), Dave Filoni (a Mandalorian crossover film), and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (a post-sequel film about Rey rebuilding the Jedi Order.) In today's announcement, Lucasfilm noted that all of those projects are still on the docket, so this looks like it'll be a Mandalorian film separate from the one that Filoni is working on.  

Buried in the announcement was word that Filoni is in the midst of developing a second season for Ahsoka (which ended last year on something of a cliffhanger), while Variety notes that Lucasfilm is also working on developing a fourth season of The Mandalorian.

News of the film is interesting, because there were some persistent rumors that the show's fourth season would be reworked as a film, and I sort of wonder if this is a result of the 2023 actors / writers strikes: shrinking an eight-episode series into a ~2-hour film, especially if Disney is keen to take some of the pressure off of its streaming business and back to theaters. 2023 was a rough year for the studio, which saw Universal eclipse it at the box office for the first time since 2015.

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We now get to play the scheduling game: the next one on the calendar was for May 22nd, 2026, with another to follow on December 18th that year and a third for December 17th, 2027. From the sounds of things, Favreau's The Mandalorian & Grogu will likely be the first out of the gate, followed by Obaid-Chinoy's Rey film, followed by the other two. (I'm still holding out hope that Rogue Squadron will get made eventually.)

Obviously, there's a lot of unknowns here, and we'll get some news trickling out in the next couple of months.

From where I sit, I think is an entirely logical move for Lucasfilm / Disney. The Mandalorian was the most streamed series of 2023, and that strikes me as a very easy sell for Disney to make to exhibitors, especially after the shellacking that the studio took with its theatrical films in 2023. While the show and its spinoffs have their ups and downs, the series had a huge role in bringing some new energy to a franchise that's really struggled to figure out where it'll head next, and if something is selling well, the folks at Disney are most definitely going to try and replicate that success, especially if they're able to get budget and go beyond the tools that were developed to ensure that they could produce a Star Wars show on a television (ish) budget ($120 million per season vs. the $416 million Rise of Skywalker cost).

But not just from a business standpoint, I think The Mandalorian would look great on the big screen. The series has captured the action-adventure-western elements of the world, and that always looks fun on the big screen. And, a 2-hour film feels like a really good way to tell a straight-forward story without having to expand it out into an eight-hour streaming series, something that the third season felt like it suffered from.

So, we'll see what this ends up looking like. Hopefully, it'll be a meaningful entry in the larger story. At the very least, it'll be something for Star Wars fans to look forward to: a return to theaters.