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Anaheim (United States) (AFP) – Disney announced a new live-action series Star Wars starring Jude Law at a big fan convention on Thursday – but any mention of upcoming films in the popular sci-fi franchise was conspicuously absent as the company focused on its streaming service focused.
Harrison Ford and Ewan McGregor were among the stars who performed in Anaheim, California, to a raucous and extravagantly dressed audience at the “Star Wars Celebration,” a four-day gathering that occurs every few years and is usually associated with new movies.
But TV shows dominated the opening presentation, which included unseen footage from Andor and The Mandalorian season 3 — plus the surprise announcement of a world premiere for McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Fans in attendance will be able to watch the first two episodes of the series the day before launch on Disney+.
McGregor and Hayden Christensen, both reprising their roles from the Star Wars prequel trilogy of films for the series about the legendary Jedi Master and his apprentice-turned-nemesis Darth Vader, both performed at the event.
Law will be starring in the previously unconfirmed series Skeleton Crew, created by Spider-Man: No Way Home director Jon Watts, it has been announced.
“It’s the story of a group of kids – about 10 years old – from a tiny little planet who accidentally get lost in the ‘Star Wars’ galaxy,” said Watts.
Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012 and immediately began producing films, including a new trilogy and spin-offs Solo and Rogue One, but has since brought its production of Star Wars to the big screen slowed down.
The decision followed falling box office receipts and mixed reviews — and the all-important launch of the Disney+ streaming service.
Disney+ has gained more than 130 million subscribers since its launch in 2019, beating most analysts’ expectations. Jon Favreau, creator of hit launch show The Mandalorian, thanked Star Wars fans for their role in his rapid rise.
“One group, the ‘Star Wars’ fans, showed up when they launched Disney+… They all helped make Disney+ a success,” Favreau said.
Favreau presented footage from The Mandalorian season 3, in which the disgraced bounty hunter – accompanied by Baby Yoda – vows to deserve forgiveness “for my transgressions”.
Tony Gilroy, who wrote Jason Bourne’s action films, said another new series, Andor, will take place five years before the spin-off film Rogue One and will span two seasons of 12 episodes.
Returning star Diego Luna said the series will portray a younger, more selfish version of his character Cassian Andor – a pilot who sacrifices himself to fight the Empire at the end of the film.
“The beauty of this show is there’s no way they’re going to kill me,” he joked.
Favreau confirmed that filming has just begun on another series, Ahsoka, starring Rosario Dawson.
But while Disney has three “Star Wars” films on the line and has previously announced films from directors Taika Waititi, Rian Johnson and Patty Jenkins, none were mentioned on stage Thursday.
Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy told Variety there will be “plenty of time to showcase upcoming films.”
Instead, the presentation ended with a performance by veteran composer John Williams, who conducted a live orchestra through his latest music for Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Williams – who turned 90 this year – was praised by Ford, who played Han Solo in the original Star Wars films, as well as Indiana Jones.
“This music follows me everywhere I go… this music was playing on the speakers in the operating room when I had my last colonoscopy,” Ford joked.
“I passed,” he added amid laughter and loud cheers.
Ford, himself 79, said the fifth Indiana Jones movie is “almost done” and confirmed it will premiere in June 2023.
Meanwhile, outside the convention center, thousands of hardcore “Star Wars” fans brandished colorful lightsabers, exchanged gossip about the upcoming shows, and posed for photos dressed up as their favorite bounty hunters, droids, and Jedi warriors.
“Star Wars Celebration” runs until Sunday.
© 2022 AFP