We know that Disney plans on releasing Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015, Star Wars: Episode VIII in 2017 and Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, with two spin-off movies arriving in 2016 and 2018. Disney CFO Jay Rasulo spoke at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills earlier today, where he revealed that the spin-offs will be "origin movies."
We first reported on the spin-offs in February, when Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are writing the movies. The next day, we confirmed that the movies will focus on Han Solo and Boba Fett.
The Han Solo movie will take place between Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, with Boba Fett's movie occurring between Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope and Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, following the bounty hunter on one of his most dangerous missions along with numerous sidekicks.
Jay Rasulo also spoke about broadening LucasFilm's merchandising base into international markets, since the company previously only focused on U.S. licensing programs. Disney's in-house licensing and consumer products teams will spend the next year making deals around the world to broaden the reach of this brand.
"We will lay the groundwork for that ... and when the film comes out in 2015, we'll be ready to blow it out."
When asked if he was worried that today's children aren't aware of the Star Wars brand, the executive had this to say.
"This is not a new franchise for kids. The sky's the limit. There's incredible flexibility. It's an unbelievable palette to create from."
The executive also noted that the studio plans on implementing a cap on film budgets, in the wake of Disney's box office bomb The Lone Ranger.
"There needs to be a cap on (budgets of) tentpole franchise movies. Going forward, we will see a cap on spending on those movies."
Does this mean the new Star Wars films will be low budget affairs? Look for unknowns to take the leads, which will ensure a cutting of costs as Disney plans at least five back-to-back movies over the course of the next six and a half years.