Disney has a new streaming service arriving the end of 2019 — this means that rather than licensing their media to Netflix, the studio will soon have its own home for its film and TV shows (presently working under the name Disney+). But in order to properly compete with the existing major streaming giants, Disney has to bring in its own movie and series originals made specifically for the service, giving it a further edge of exclusivity for potential subscribers. A brief lineup of titles has been announced already, but another Star Wars project has just been added to that list.
The new project is a series that focuses on the events prior to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, one of the franchise’s anthology films. The show will star Diego Luna, who will be reprising his role as Cassian Andor, a rebel spy who worked alongside Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso to steal the plans for the Death Star in the 2016 film. According to Variety, the show has been described as a “rousing spy thriller” and will occur during the early years of the Rebellion.
Any type of expansion of the Star Wars universe is one worth noting — and this isn’t even the first live-action spinoff series that the franchise is seeing go to the streaming service. Also in development is The Mandalorian, a limited series penned by Jon Favreau and includes an ensemble of directors who will be taking on individual episodes, with the likes of names such as Taika Waititi and Bryce Dallas Howard. Star Wars fans have a lot to look forward to in 2019, and the addition of these shows creates a huge incentive to opt into the new service.
To build a series off of the events of Rogue One is a smart move for Disney. Being a standalone film, it lays out the groundwork but there is plenty of freedom to expand upon the circumstances that led to the film’s events. So long as the series concludes with Luna’s character learning about the Death Star and freeing Jyn (or at least with the events that transpire just before this), the plot has room to move in nearly any direction. Perhaps the series will also find itself entangled with other characters and events in the Star Wars universe, which wouldn’t be at all surprising — after all, it’s just one small part that’s working to create the bigger picture formed by the main film series.
Luna himself took to Twitter to confirm his role reprisal of Cassian Andor:
Luna’s return to Star Wars will make for further diversity in his fairly refined filmography. His previous credits include Alfonso Cuarón’s highly acclaimed Y Tu Mamá También, Gus Van Sant’s 2008 biopic Milk, and Barry Jenkins’ latest feature If Beale Street Could Talk. In addition to this, he is also starring in the new season of Narcos alongside Michael Peña. While he has a great palette of work, most of it is not quite up to the massive-blockbuster-spectacle speed of Disney’s empire. If Disney+ ends up successfully bringing in viewers in the way it is aiming to, the series could ultimately give Luna recognition amongst a much broader audience.
The series is ultimately working in favor of one of Disney’s major strategies to gain viewership: to bring in previous characters that audiences are already familiar with and further explore their stories. The same is expected to be done with characters from the MCU, with Marvel series already having been confirmed to be in the works. By providing further content regarding characters and stories that the audience is already attached to, there is a greater likelihood of fans choosing Disney’s service so that they can continue on the journeys of characters they have become invested in.
This is essentially what this series itself is playing with — if audiences are already somewhat familiar with Cassian’s story, they have more reason to engage. Production on the series will start in 2019, and while there is no official word yet on when the series will be released, it will most likely be part of Disney+’s initial launch. Only time will tell whether the series will wind up being a hit or miss for the franchise, and more broadly, for Disney’s experimentation with streaming.