Disney CEO Bob Iger is peeling back the curtain on the future of Star Wars.
“We’re starting talk about what could happen after Episode IX. About what could be another decade-and-a-half of Star Wars stories,” Iger said Thursday during a talk in Santa Monica.
He also said The Last Jedi will not be changed in the wake of star Carrie Fisher’s death in December.
“When we bought Lucasfilm, we were going to make three films — Episodes VII, VIII and IX,” said Iger. “We had to deal with tragedy at the end of 2016. Carrie appears throughout VIII. We are not changing VIII to deal with her passing. Her performance remains as it is in VIII. In Rogue One, we had some digital character. We are not doing that with Carrie.”
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The executive also revealed new details about the young Han Solo movie, saying the film will span the Star Wars rogue’s years from age 18 to 24. Han (played by Alden Ehrenreich) will meet Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and will be seen finding his ship, The Millennium Falcon.
Iger was interviewed by his wife Willow Bay, newly named Dean of USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.
Also on Thursday, Disney announced it was extending Iger’s tenure as CEO until July 2, 2019.
Iger said when he does exit Disney, he wants to leave the post “in a good position for my successor, whoever that is.”
He continued: “Succession is a complicated thing. We [the board] felt we wanted to spend more time on succession … and we mutually agreed to another year.”
Iger got a laugh as he added about retirement, “but I’m serious this time around.”
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There’s no heir apparent among the company’s executives, and Iger made no mention of possible successors. He declined to comment on his plans for life after Disney.
Iger also talked with enthusiasm about the potential of virtual reality and location-based experiences. He described a planned attraction for Avatar Land, which is scheduled to open in Orlando in May, in which you sit atop the banshee, the flying creature from James Cameron’s film.
“You feel a pulse and breathing. And a screen comes up and you are basically in Pandora. In 3D, you feel like you are right in it,” said Iger. “We spent a lot of time and money on robotics with expressions. There’s a Na’vi that has expressions you won’t believe.”
He added that the planned Star Wars Lands (in both Anaheim, Calif., and Orlando) will include an experience that would allow the patron to get into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon “and go for a joyrides.”
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The young Han Solo movie also stars Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian, as well as Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson in a mentor role, Thandie Newton and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are directing the film, which is slated to open in theaters May 25, 2018.
The Last Jedi, from writer-director Rian Johnson, is set to bow Dec. 15 of this year.
Iger’s comments came at the Scale: The Future of Tech and Entertainment conference, held at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica.
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