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Back when Disney first purchased Lucasfilm, not only did the Mouse House announce more entries in the Star Wars saga, they also announced additional standalone films. What exactly that meant, however, was not entirely clear. How will these Anthology or Story movies differ from the films we knew? The difference, it seems, has to do with the film’s relative level of Skywalker.
Speaking with the Costco Newsletter, The Costco Connection (because everybody else is covering Star Wars, so why the hell not Costco?) The Keeper of the Force (which is a title I just gave her), Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, explained that the Episode films, the traditional movies we are familiar with, are the story of the Skywalker family, while the others all deal with other parts of the galaxy far, far, away. She said:
The Saga films focus on the Skywalker family saga. The stories follow a linear narrative that connects to the previous six films. The Force Awakens follows Return of the Jedi and continues that generational story. The Anthology films offer opportunities to explore fresh characters, new storylines and a variety of genres inside the Star Wars universe.
This seems to scan with the data that we have so far. While there are Anthology movies currently on the schedule for Han Solo and Boba Fett, we haven’t heard anything about a standalone Princess Leia movie, which is unfortunate, but understandable if they feel her complete story is told in the Episode movies. Still, it would seem there’s a great opportunity for a rom-com about Princess Leia being set up with a dopey prince from another planet and...no...wait… we’re thinking of Spaceballs.
What’s most intriguing about the entire plan is the idea for the films to dive into entirely different genres. Just because a film takes place on another planet does not mean science fiction has to be its defining characteristic. Everything we know about the first Anthology film, Rogue One, screams "heist," which is an incredibly exciting idea, and it's also been described as a grim war movie. The options are potentially limitless. There are opportunities for stories that take place within the world of Star Wars that don’t even touch on the greater plot points of the series.
On the flip side, this should also give traditional fans some confidence that they have a good idea what to expect when The Force Awakens hits theaters in a couple months. While nobody can guarantee that the new movies will be good -- as mediocre as they were the prequels still felt like Star Wars movies -- anybody who wants to "play" in the Star Wars universe can go write or direct an Anthology movie and leave the primary films alone.
It’s a nice thought anyway. We’ll find out what the differences truly are when Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18 and when Star Wars: Rogue One arrives December 16, 2016.