Sunday, 14 August 2016

ABC and Lucasfilm actively discussing a STAR WARS TV show

It has been confirmed that ABC and Lucasfilm are actively discussing a Star Wars television series. What type of TV show this would be is unclear, but with the animated Rebels series doing good business on Disney XD, it is assumed that this new series would be a live-action show.

This would follow the precedent established by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, also owned by Disney, which after several successful films moved into television with Agents on SHIELD on ABC, followed by a number of limited series produced by ABC but airing on Netflix: Daredevil, Jessica Jones and the forthcoming Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders.

A Star Wars TV series was previously in development for much of the latter part of the 2000s. George Lucas and Rick McCallum planned a live-action series lasting for at least 50 hour-long episodes and had at least that many scripts written ahead of time. To keep costs down the series was going to be set in the seedy criminal underworld of Coruscant and would focus less on space battles and Jedi and more on morally dubious goings-on between high-tech gangs. Despite these measures, the series was budgeted at $5 million per episode which put it outside the reach of most networks (the ABC network itself had only previously made Lost for that kind of money, and that was one the highest-viewed and highest-rated TV dramas in their history). HBO considered the project but passed, citing the lack of ownership they would have over the project which would reduce their ability to make money back (as DVD and Blu-Ray sales, along with a chunk of overseas sales, would go to Lucasfilm instead). In the wake of the Star Wars prequel movies, where the two later films performed more disappointingly than the first and all three were critically slated, the project did also not have the cultural cachet that it would have done earlier.

The new Star Wars project is assumed to be completely original, although Disney inherited those scripts and outlines along with everything else when they bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion four years ago. Radical improvements in effects technology, plus the new monetisation possibilities opened up by on-demand streaming, make the project more financially viable than ever before and the Star Wars brand name is arguably at its highest ebb since the mid-1980s, with new Star Wars movies due on screen every year from now until 2019 (and probably far beyond). The sheer size of the Star Wars universe would also make it easier to create a TV series that stood alone in its own corner of the setting and did not have to explain why movie characters weren't showing up every time a crisis erupts (a major criticism levelled at the Marvel TV shows).

These talks are at an early stage so I wouldn't expect to see any major announcements soon, but it is fascinating to consider when and where such a TV show would be set. Several possiblities come to mind:
  • Knights of the Old Republic: a highly-successful sub-setting within the Star Wars universe, encompassing several hugely successful video games and comics. This takes place 4,000 years before the events of the original trilogy and focuses on the battle between the Jedi, the ancient Sith and various powerful factions in the galaxy, such as the Mandalorians.
  • Between the Generations: the timespan between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens is currently being explored by comics and novels, but a TV show could slot in here quite nicely, showing how the initial euphoria surrounding the death of the Emperor and the rise of the New Republic gradually turns to cynicism as the Empire becomes resurgent under the banner of the First Order.
  • The Rebel Alliance: a series set within the ranks of the Rebel Alliance itself during the events of the first three movies, rather than from the POV of outsiders like Luke and Han.
It's unlikely that such as series would be set during the Clone Wars or between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, as both periods have been extensively covered by the animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels. A TV series focusing on movie characters is also unlikely, with future films set to explore the adventures of young Han Solo (with a young Lando expected to appear), the backstory of Boba Fett, the history of Yoda and potentially Obi-Wan Kenobi.

1 comment:

Jussi said...

"In the wake of the Star Wars prequel movies, where each film performed more disappointingly than the one before"

Revenge of the Sith was a bigger hit in box office than Attack of the Clones.