In September, Netflix will become the exclusive “pay tv home” to all Disney movies from 2016 onward, including all films by Marvel Studios, Pixar, and Lucasfilm – but after already establishing success with Disney/Marvel-owned original content like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, could this ever-increasing partnership also pave the way for a long-gestating Star Wars live action series?
First up, a history lesson: In 2005, George Lucas announced plans for an expansive live-action Star Wars series (later confirmed to be titled Star Wars: Underworld) that would take place between Episodes III and IV on capital planet of Coruscant. Various networks including ABC considered the series at various points in time, and over 50 episodes were reportedly written – some even by Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ronald D. Moore. Star Wars prequel producer Rick McCallum compared it to The Godfather, even framing it as “Deadwood in space.” Although considered dead following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, Star Wars brand manager Kathleen Kennedy said just this past December that it’s something that’s been discussed, and that Disney would still consider developing the series.
“Interestingly enough, that’s an area we’ve spent a lot of time, reading through the material that he [Lucas] developed is something we very much would like to explore,” Kennedy told Slashfilm.
Since inking their soon-to-be-enacted distribution deal with Disney almost four years ago, Netflix has found increasing success with original programming – including developing its sixth standalone series based on Disney-owned Marvel IP, and multiple seasons and critical acclaim for the shows Netflix has already premiered. Considering the level of success Disney has already had farming out the live-action TV shows based on one of its subsidiaries, is it far-fetched to consider that a Netflix original Star Wars TV series might be the next logical step for the partnership?
Star Wars already has a track record with Netflix with the long-running and well-received Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and with Netflix having announced that it plans to spend upwards of $6 billion dollars on original content in 2016 alone, it seems like the streaming service may have the budget to pull off what Lucasfilm would consider a series that meets the Star Wars production standards. Of course, with the unified vision of current Star Wars media, some of those scripts would likely need revision - a task Disney's dedicated Star Wars story team seems more than prepared for.
Likewise, there's no shortage of A-list actors and creators champing at the bit to join the Star Wars bandwagon, or to work with Netflix, meaning Netflix could possibly even pull in one of the current film series's slightly lesser stars to anchor - or simply recast a known character with a younger version as they've done with Han Solo for his *ahem* solo prequel.
As it stands, there's nothing on the books ... yet. But Disney and Netflix could take the plunge any time. In the meantime, the next live-action Star Wars installment is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which is scheduled to hit theaters December 16.