Hollywood’s propensity for sequels has been well-documented in recent years. If a standalone movie does well at the box office, the odds are good that it’ll spawn a whole franchise in its wake, regardless of whether or not that was the intention of the film in the first place. That being so, no one would blame Lucasfilm if they made plans for a Rogue One: A Star Wars Story sequel following a successful release. It would certainly fall in line with the prevailing logic in the film industry, especially within a franchise the studio has plans to stretch out indefinitely.
That makes it all the more surprising to find out that Lucasfilm has no intention of making any additional Rogue One movies. The buzz leading into its release has been largely positive, and if The Force Awakens was any indication, it’s virtually guaranteed to make a giant pile of money no matter how good or bad it ends up being. So why no sequel? Believe it or not, the reasoning is about as sound as it gets.
First off, consider the period of time Rogue One covers. The standalone narrative is set directly before the Rebellion blows up the first Death Star in A New Hope, leaving little room for anything in the way of a series of sequels, much less a single follow-up film. As director Gareth Edwards put it in an interview with Empire magazine, any additional Rogue One movie would “be directed by George Lucas,” pointing toward the aforementioned Episode IV doubling as the natural continuation of the story.
Lucasfilm has made a point to paint a rich picture of the Star Wars galaxy in the years directly preceding A New Hope. It’s given us a series of new novels, comic books, and even an animated TV show. Factor Rogue One into the mix and past that, there’s very little left to cover if we’re trying to cram another new story in directly before A New Hope.
Logistics aren’t the only thing keeping a Rogue One sequel at bay. Beyond the story-related limitations, making what Kathleen Kennedy jokingly refers to as Rogue Two would go against the spirit of the Anthology series on a fundamental level. The whole point of making Anthology films is to focus on standalone narratives set in between the gaps of the existing trilogies. That means taking fans somewhere new with each passing story, covering everything from the early stages of the Death Star’s construction, to the origin of Han Solo.
There’s also an inherent benefit to keeping the Rogue One story confined to a single film: a clear beginning, middle, and end. While endless theorizing about the many questions posed by The Force Awakens is fun, there’s something intensely satisfying about knowing Rogue One will provide us with a conclusive ending by the time the credits role. Having to wait two years between trilogy films is hard enough; imagine having to also wait another two years for Anthology movies to wrap up any open-ended plot threads.
It’s worth acknowledging that while Lucasfilm seems hesitant to green-light a Rogue One sequel for now, a hefty box office take could very well change their minds at the drop of a hat. Money speaks louder than necessity in Hollywood, and if the studio feels as though they stand to capitalize on a follow-up film, you can bet they’ll at least weigh their options for dismissing the idea entirely.
What seems more likely though, is that we haven’t seen the last of Jyn Erso. As the newest hero in the Star Wars universe, it’d be a tragic waste of a perfectly good character if all she got was a single movie before exiting the franchise entirely. Perhaps she’ll surface in a future Anthology movie, or simply be relegated to the Expanded Universe novels and comics. She’s already been incorporated into the Battlefront video game series in the latest DLC, so clearly Lucasfilm sees her as a lead player in the saga.
For now, it’s encouraging to see that Lucasfilm understands the limitations of the Star Wars franchise as a whole. Forcing an unnecessary sequel would represent a massive misstep in what’s otherwise been a wildly successful reign for Disney, and you can bet that the studio heads are well aware of this too. Let’s just hope they remember that after Rogue One hauls in $130 million over its opening weekend.
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