If you needed proof of its market power, consider this: four days of intensive marketing by Disney comes at a price. The four-day adult ticket to Celebration costs US$195 ($272), plus taxes and fees. Single-day admission is US$75.
Coupled with the American Memorial Day holiday weekend and the nearby Disneyland theme park, home to the Star Wars-themed Galaxy’s Edge, the tourist town of Anaheim was packed with people: Stormtroopers, Jedi Knights and an eclectic mix of princesses and Sith lords walking among everyday tourists.
Like its larger Disney-focused sister event D23 Expo, Celebration is essentially a massive marketing machine for one of the most valuable film and television properties in modern history. His announcements and revelations are scrutinized and dissected by fans and media for weeks afterward.
But equally fascinating is what wasn’t announced at Celebration. As fans cheered on new TV projects, the future of Star Wars as a film franchise was oddly left hanging.
Despite persistent speculation for several years around new Star Wars film projects, no new information has come to light. Ahead of the event, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said vanity lounge than expected Star Wars: Rogue Squadron would miss its 2023 release date, and that another project, by Taika Waititi and still untitled, would likely be released first.
Speaking on the red carpet at Celebration, Kennedy was equally vague. “We had so much to showcase with the new TV we have coming, we’re going to have plenty of time to present [what we’re doing in the movie space] the same way,” she said.
Instead, in the galaxy far, far away, it looks like streaming is the future, at least for now, with slated Disney+ TV projects dominating the debate.
Among the major announcements made over the weekend was confirmation that the new series Andor, derived from the movie Star Wars A thug, would premiere on August 31 this year on Disney+. The series, which takes place five years before A thugwill receive 12 episodes, with a 12-episode second season to follow.
And another new Star Wars TV series, Star Wars: Skeleton Crew, was announced. This project, which follows a group of children who are lost and in search of a way back home, will star actor Jude Law, will take place in the period of two other shows, The Mandalorian and Ahsokaand will air in 2023.
Disney, which never misses an opportunity, used the huge crowds at Celebration to increase the noise on several non-Star Wars assets. Actor Harrison Ford appeared alongside the first reveal of a still – but no further details – from Indiana Jones’ fifth film. And a trailer came out for the willow sequel, set 20 years after original actor and 1988 star Warwick Davis.
One of the busiest events of the weekend was the panel of The Mandalorianfeaturing the show’s producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, and actors Pedro Pascal and Katee Sackhoff.
Chatter on the panel teased one of the main story threads of the third season of The Mandalorianand would seem to suggest that series protagonist Din Djarin (Pascal) was embarking on a quest to claim the throne of the planet Mandalore.
This would make his former ally, Bo-Katan Kryze (Sackhoff), now a rival, as his long-arc storyline in Star Wars mythology has involved reclaiming the vacant throne of his home planet. According to the canon of the story, the wielder of the legendary “darksaber”, a type of Jedi lightsaber, is the rightful heir.
“My dad raised me on sci-fi, he raised me on strong characters, and when I was little we didn’t have a lot of strong female characters to discuss,” Sackhoff told the audience of Celebration.
“Being able to play the women that I have been able to play throughout my career has been a gift, and strong women continue to come to me…and the fact that they trusted me to bring [Bo-Katan] at live-action, I pinch myself.
Audiences also got a glimpse of the highly anticipated Star Wars series Ahsokastarring Rosario Dawson as the eponymous ancient Jedi who appeared in episodes of The Mandalorian. This series is scheduled for release in 2023.
And despite an appearance by New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison, who plays iconic bounty hunter Boba Fett in the TV series Boba Fett’s Bookthe absence of any footage or discussion of a second season was enough to spark speculation that the show’s only season would be standalone.
“There is no official word yet [on a second season]”, Morrison said. “They filmed it as if it could be a good book and we read the book. If not, we could write another book.
Disney holds the Celebration and D23 Expo conventions in alternate years, typically, and Celebration has historically moved between cities such as London, Chicago, and Orlando. Due to pandemic-related scheduling delays, both events are taking place in Anaheim, California in 2022.
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