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Disney Taps Oscar-Quality Writers and Directors to Produce New 'Star Wars' Titles

By Anders Bylund – May 4, 2020 at 4:06PM

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The House of Mouse is bringing in some big guns for the next silver-screen title and Disney+ series, despite a relatively lukewarm reception for "The Last Jedi."

Walt Disney (DIS -0.75%) is making more content in the Star Wars universe. The award-winning talent Disney is bringing to a new theatrical release and Disney+ series might surprise you.

The big picture

Disney has tapped Oscar-winning writer and director Taika Waititi to helm and co-write a new silver-screen release in a galaxy far, far away. The sparse announcement was made on Star Wars Day 2020 ("May the Fourth be with you").

The movie doesn't have a name yet and we don't know where in the timeline of the Star Wars canon this title will fall, but Waititi's presence points to an action-packed plot with a healthy dose of slapstick comedy. He won an Academy Award for co-writing the screenplay to Jojo Rabbit, the best World War II comedy since Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful (1997).

Co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns also comes with a nomination from last year's Academy Awards, losing to Waititi's work as a co-writer on World War I drama 1917.

Headshots of Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Taika Waititi, and Leslye Headland.

Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Taika Waititi, and Leslye Headland. Image source: Walt Disney's

The small screen

The same announcement also introduced an as-yet-untitled Star Wars series for the Disney+ video-streaming service. Here, Disney tapped Emmy-nominated writer Leslye Headland to write, develop, and manage the series as its showrunner. Headland is best known for her writing and directing work on the Netflix (NFLX 1.39%) original series Russian Doll and the Fox drama Almost Family.

Why these terrific talents might be surprising

The final movie in the nine-title Skywalker Saga, last year's The Last Jedi, was largely snubbed by the awards circuit and far from universally loved by audiences.

There was never any doubt that Disney would continue to produce new content in the familiar and lucrative Star Wars world, but the company could have punted the Lucasfilm universe to unknown writers and directors. Instead, the story moves forward in the hands of award-winning creative talents.

Anders Bylund owns shares of Netflix and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Netflix and Walt Disney and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $60 calls on Walt Disney and short July 2020 $115 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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