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Disney sets dates for next three 'Star Wars' films from 2022

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Following its merger with Fox, Disney on Tuesday sketched out its future plans for two of its most towering franchises - the "Star Wars" saga and "Avatar."

[LOS ANGELES] Following its merger with Fox, Disney on Tuesday sketched out its future plans for two of its most towering franchises - the "Star Wars" saga and "Avatar."

Three new as-yet untitled "Star Wars" films will hit the big screen every other year just before Christmas starting in 2022, the mega-studio announced.

That means that there could be a three-year wait between the December release of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," the final film in the original series begun in 1977, and the next big-screen "Star Wars" flick.

Several "Star Wars" projects are in the works, including a trilogy by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of HBO's "Game of Thrones", and a separate trilogy by "Last Jedi" director Rian Johnson.

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A spokeswoman for Disney, contacted by AFP, did not offer additional details about the upcoming scheduled films, which will expand upon the cinematic universe created by George Lucas.

Disney paid US$4 billion for Lucasfilm in 2012.

In September last year, Disney CEO Bob Iger admitted after the lackluster performance of "Solo: A Star Wars Story," a one-off film in the franchise, that the "Star Wars" release schedule was too frenetic.

After six films in 38 years, from 1977 to 2005, the rhythm had picked up considerably.

A total of four films came in rapid succession, from the release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in 2015 to "Solo" in May 2018.

"I made the timing decision, and as I look back, I think the mistake that I made - I take the blame - was a little too much, too fast," Iger told The Hollywood Reporter last year.

Meanwhile, the studio pushed back its plans for the next films in director James Cameron's uber-successful "Avatar" franchise - one of the biggest prizes for Disney in the Fox merger.

"Avatar 2" will come a year later than expected in December 2021, followed by "Avatar 3" in 2023, "Avatar 4" in 2025 and "Avatar 5" in 2027.

"Avatar" remains the top-grossing film of all time, with US$2.79 billion in worldwide box office sales, but superhero extravaganza "Avengers: Endgame" is hot on its heels at US$2.24 billion and rapidly climbing.

AFP