Disney unveils plans for Star Wars, Avatar films

Following its merger with Fox, Disney on Tuesday sketched out its future plans for two of its most towering franchises - the Star Wars saga and Avatar.

Three new Star Wars films will hit the big screen every other year just before Christmas starting in 2022, the mega-studio announced.

That means that there could be a three-year wait between the December release of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, the final film in the original series begun in 1977, and the next big-screen Star Wars flick.

Several Star Wars projects are in the works, including a trilogy by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of HBO TV series Game Of Thrones, and a separate trilogy by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.

Disney paid US$4 billion for Lucasfilm in 2012.

In September last year, Disney chief executive Bob Iger admitted after the lacklustre performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story, a one-off film in the franchise, that the Star Wars release schedule was too frenetic.

After six films in 38 years, from 1977 to 2005, the rhythm had picked up considerably. A total of four films came in rapid succession, from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 to Solo in May last year.

"As I look back, I think the mistake that I made - I take the blame - was a little too much, too fast," Mr Iger told The Hollywood Reporter last year.

Meanwhile, Disney pushed back its plans for the next films in director James Cameron's uber-successful Avatar franchise - one of the biggest prizes for Disney in the Fox merger.

Avatar 2 will come a year later than expected in December 2021, followed by Avatar 3 in 2023, Avatar 4 in 2025 and Avatar 5 in 2027.

Avatar remains the top-grossing film of all time, with US$2.79 billion (S$3.8 billion) in worldwide box office sales, but Disney's superhero extravaganza Avengers: Endgame is hot on its heels at US$2.24 billion and rapidly climbing. - AFP