Disney (NYSE:DIS) keeps finding new ways to milk its roughly $4 billion investment in Star Wars' parent Lucasfilm. The family-entertainment giant confirmed it's developing a movie that will revolve around the origin story of Han Solo.
It's a no-brainer for Disney. We've seen what it does as it digs deep into the Marvel vault to pluck out theatrical blockbusters. No one outside of comic-book aficionados figured that Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, or a series reboot of Daredevil could be major properties for the House of Mouse before it began its mining expeditions.
It won't have to dig too deep here. Solo is an iconic character, and a story of a younger Solo emerging as a smuggler with Chewbacca at his side on the Millennium Falcon seems like an easy way to attract audiences. The feature film is slated to open during the 2018 Memorial Day holiday weekend, which has historically kicked off the potent summer movie season.
There is still no one cast to play the young Solo, though it wouldn't be a surprise if Harrison Ford had a cameo. Famed screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan -- no stranger to penning Ford roles after writing Raiders of the Lost Ark and a couple of the Star Wars films -- will be working on the script with his son. Chris Miller and Phil Lord -- the guys responsible for last year's blockbuster The Lego Movie -- have been tapped as directors.
For now, all of the attention being generated by the Star Wars franchise is pointed squarely at your local multiplex, which promises to be pretty crowded in five months when Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts. There will be two highly anticipated sequels to wrap up the third and presumably final trilogy, and Disney already announced a pair of spin-offs before Wednesday's Solo treat. An original story for bounty hunter, Boba Fett, is in the works, and next year we'll see Rogue One -- a new property about rebels bent on stealing plans for the Death Star -- hit theaters.
Anyone who has stepped into a Disney theme park or retail store knows the Star Wars investment is already paying off in consumer products. Disney is a master at turning movies into merchandise. We're also seeing Disney gut its least-visited park in Florida, and all of the chatter points to an announcement later this year on a massive Star Wars-themed makeover for a good chunk of the theme park.
As long as the creative forces don't drop the ball on the final Star Wars trilogy, Disney will be able to freely feast off the franchise. An origin story for Solo becomes the most prominent of the three spin-offs that have now been announced, but something tells me we're not done hearing about these mining efforts. The force is strong in this one.