Lando Series to Become a Movieby Todd King, contributing writer
A series will become a film. Lando, originally announced in December 2020 as an exclusive Disney+ series, will be the first Star Wars film since 2019's The Rise of Skywalker.
After the sequel trilogy completed with Episode IX, live-action Star Wars continued with several series only on Disney+ including The Mandalorian, Andor, The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and most recently, Ahsoka. It seemed like Disney was fulfilling its promise of going "all-in" on the streaming service. Yet recent events like the Galactic Starcruiser being shut down, and then a lawsuit from finance partners TSG, streaming subscribers dropping off, and the ongoing strikes by the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA have shown that streaming hasn't been the best setup for all the people involved. Without getting into those complicated matters, Disney seems to be trying a new strategy or two. For instance, they recently announced that The Mandalorian seasons 1 and 2 will be released in Blu-Ray 4K SteelBook format when Disney originally had no intention of doing so, in order to keep the series exclusive to streaming. Something is changing at Disney (and Lucasfilm?) and it isn't the first time.
Back in 2018 a new film trilogy was to be helmed by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, but that was canceled in 2019. In 2020, Patty Jenkins, after recent success with Wonder Woman, announced a new Star Wars standalone film titled, Rogue Squadron, said to be about X-Wing pilots. It was canceled this past March. A film reportedly headed up by Kevin Feige barely made news except for its cancellation this year also. Back around the time of 2017's The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson was confirmed to create a new trilogy of films but it seems to have been dropped with no news about it for years.
Somewhere in that mix there was going to be a Boba Fett film to hit theaters but it was pushed through changes to become a Disney+ series that received lukewarm reviews after its release. Word was that the letdown of Solo: A Star Wars Story's box office performance changed the fate of Fett and several other films. Also, there's some sort of film or trilogy to be made by Taika Waititi who directed some episodes of Mandalorian—but not much has been heard about that lately. As of now, the only other movie that might be made is one that continues the story of Rey after Episode IX, and even Daisy Ridley has confirmed this—I say "might" because so many film projects have been scrapped, it's hard to believe.
Then we find out about Lando coming to theaters instead of being a streaming series. The news is encouaraging but also confusing. Why did we find out about this from Stephen Glover on a recent episode of the podcast, “Pablo Torre Finds Out”? Why was there no official announcement? Stephen is the brother of Donald Glover, who portrayed Lando in Solo, and both of them are going to be writing the Lando movie. That means that Justin Simien (director and writer of Dear White People) who was originally going to run the Lando series, is now out of the project (details from Variety magazine).
So, what's going on with Disney and Lucasfilm? Are they ending their aversion to the cinema? Are they no longer gun-shy after the reception of Solo and Rise of Skywalker? Has it been a result of recent administrative turmoil at the top of Disney's executive staff? Whatever the case, I don't know enough about the business to fully divine a clear picture in the realm of money (which is probably what all this is about). All I can do is what I do best: speculate. Speculate about the film itself, not the filmmaking industry.
So, on with the speculation.
Will Billy Dee Williams make a cameo?
After the sequel trilogy finished, Lando survived. The fates of Luke, Leia, and Han had all been decided, but Lando remains. Billy Dee Williams had little screen time in Rise of Skywalker so it would be cool to have him present in perhaps a framing-story kind of way. There are some great possibilities there to see Williams reprise his role and add some depth to the story. We could see Lando helping out the galaxy after the fall of the First Order and tell his past story to help the present situation. I'm not sure if they'll do it, but I would.
Will Alden Ehrenreich make a cameo as Han Solo?
Depends on the timeframe of the movie's story but my guess would be no—I think producers would want to keep as much "Solo" out of it.
Will it be called "Lando: A Star Wars Story?"
Will they bring back that subtitle? My guess would be no since Solo is already associated with this film and that movie didn't fare as well as they'd hoped. I think for consistency it would be pretty neat and could possibly redeem the name. If I were doing it, I would either just call it Lando or subtitle it something like Lando and the... something. There were Adventures of Lando Calrissian books back in the '90s with titles like, Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp Of Sharu, ... and the Flamewind Of Oseon, ...and the Starcave Of Thonboka if you're interested in some legends tales.
When will the movie be released?
Nobody knows. It could be 2 years or more depending on many factors. I'm guessing 3 years if they just changed writers are not yet in pre-production. Since they're not going the Disney+ route this will have a different budget and a different production with locations, sets, and large crews. A lot could happen during that time though, as we've seen, so we'll have to wait to see if it will come together. They have a lot of decisions to make including the gist of the story, what kind of adventure it will be, when it will take place in the overall timeline, and just the overarching question: what do we (the audience/fans) want to see from a Lando adventure? For me, basically, I want to see Lando in the Millennium Falcon getting caught up in some galactic trouble with the Empire where he outsmarts his way out of jams with his scoundrel wits. Simple ya?
Why are they making this movie?
After the Solo movie, no matter the overall reaction, I believe most people loved Lando and the portrayal by Donald Glover. There is a desire to see him in the role again. Donald Glover was lauded in his performance and he fit the part perfectly. I think that was enough to do something more with that character and actor. But Solo was the least successful Star Wars movie so why make a spinoff of that? As a series, there was less risk, so why not keep this as a series? That answer may be related to the strikes but it could point to Disney (and Lucasfilm by extension) trying to change course and right their ship. It's a risk to make it a movie. Star Wars, originally, was a huge risk. Even Empire Strikes Back was a giant risk; sequels hardly ever came close to the success of the original. In both cases, it all paid off. It's good to see some risk-taking here and with pressure, raised stakes, and all the fan's eyes on this project, it could raise the talents of all those involved. What if it fails? Well, I'd rather ask, what if it thrives?
What will the movie be about?
Lando is much more open to interpretation than Han Solo. We saw Han's ups and downs and saw him grow and change through the course of two trilogies. We had him pretty much figured out. When we got his backstory in Solo, some people might have thought it was a letdown because it didn't quite fit with our expectations because we already knew Han; his story didn't seem incomplete. Lando, on the other hand has more storytelling opportunities because we know less about him. His time in Solo only revealed glimpses of the young Calrissian that it made us more curious about him, not less. He's also different from Han. Lando concerns himself with style as much as winning. He loves capes, he hangs out with and sometimes has relationships with droids, he's sly and unpredictable, and he's as contentious as he is passionate. It's a different kind of cool than Han. Let's hope that all doesn't change when he's the lead in the movie and the weight of the story rests on his chic lapels.