Rogue Squadron: The Star Wars that never was

The film was slated for December 2023

Rogue Squadron. Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm. 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd ™ . All Rights Reserved
Rogue Squadron. Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm. 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd ™ . All Rights Reserved /

This week marks a momentous occasion. Or rather, the very notable lack of one. For many years, Christmas 2023 was the promised release window for the live-action Star Wars film Rogue Squadron, directed by Patty Jenkins. However, with a distinct lack of a trailer, photos, casting, or anything of substance suggesting the existence of the movie, there were, in fact, no tickets to be sold anywhere.

Rogue Squadron has indeed fallen victim to the seemingly endless cycle of Lucasfilm making a series of incredible announcements that start out on solid ground and, with the passage of time, witness their foundations crumble. The pattern goes something like this: ‘The project is currently in pre-production,’ then several months will go by. ‘We’ve attached this moderately well-known writer to the project!’ Now, it’s been about a year. ‘We’re pushing back the release date to make sure it’s as good as it can be.’ All of a sudden, two years passed, and absolutely nothing has been achieved. Now, the final stage is: ‘We might consider the project in a different form.’ I’m afraid the rough translation for this ominous phrase is: The project is dead.

If this had happened once or twice over the past decade of Lucasfilm under Disney, of course there would be grumbles, but nothing out of the ordinary. Projects get green-lit and then pulled all the time in this industry. But never with as much publicity as the Star Wars franchise. Especially when you launch the project with a live-action video from the director, standing in front of a life-sized X-Wing, talking about how personal the project is to them.

Remember that? The video of Patty Jenkins talking about how her dad was a fighter pilot?? Then she puts on a flight suit and gets in the X-Wing???

This video meant that the movie wasn’t just an idea on paper, this is something Lucasfilm was truly banking on and it all fell apart, in very public view. Originally the excuse for Jenkins’ departure was so that she could make room for Wonder Woman 3. Remarkably, the only thing Rogue Squadron and this movie have in common is that they both no longer exist.

Rogue Squadron is the most notable example of this due to how much Lucasfilm and Disney had put out for it, but it is far from alone. There is now a densely packed graveyard of would-be Star Wars projects that were enthusiastically announced and now exist in a ghostly state of ‘hmm, maybe one day’ because Lucasfilm seems deeply averse to outright canceling any of these projects. Instead, we are just left waiting. The only one that appears to be the little film still putting along is Taika Waititi's.

Nowadays, in a post-sequel-trilogy galaxy, whenever Lucasfilm announces a new project, particularly a live-action movie, it should no longer be taken as a real announcement and instead be considered more like a suggestion. Fool me once? Shame on me. Fool me five or six times in the span of three years?? Real shame.

Taika Waititi's movie is still coming but when? Where is the Rian Johnson trilogy? When is the series-turned-movie Lando coming? What’s going to happen to the triple announcement of the Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Dave Filoni and James Mangold movies? Are these all destined for the same fate of being announced and never hitting screens?

A very grim pattern has emerged. It has been more than four years since the last theatrical release of a Star Wars film. I seem to remember a strange but wonderful movie in the mid-seventies that kind of redefined cinema and altered the course of media for the rest of time. It’s a shame those days might be behind us.

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What’s your favourite Star Wars project that never was? Leave a comment below and for all things Star Wars, head on over to Dork Side of the Force.