New 'Star Wars' films on way from TV's 'Game of Thrones' creators

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Disney on Tuesday announced it was expanding its “Star Wars” universe, hiring the creators behind HBO’s massive TV hit “Game of Thrones” to write a new series of films set in the galaxy far, far away.

The Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) said in a statement that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would write and produce the new series, which will be separate from both the episodic Skywalker saga and the recently announced trilogy being developed by director Rian Johnson.

No release dates or plot details were given.

Shares in Disney, which also reported a quarterly profit that topped forecasts on Tuesday, rose nearly 3 percent in after hours trading.

Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said in a statement that Benioff and Weiss’s “command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push ‘Star Wars’ in ways I find incredibly exciting.”

Disney is also developing “a few” “Star Wars” television series for an upcoming streaming service from the company, Chief Executive Bob Iger said on a conference call.

In November, Disney had announced that Johnson, director of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” would write and direct the first of a new trilogy of films in the sci-fi franchise that would bring new characters and worlds not yet explored on screen.

“The Last Jedi,” released in December 2017, has earned more than $1.3 billion at the global box office.

Disney had previously committed to making three standalone “Star Wars” films outside of the Skywalker saga. They include 2016’s “Rogue One,” and May 2018 release “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which follows the origins of the roguish smuggler Han Solo, made famous by Harrison Ford in the original 1977 movie.

Fantasy “Game of Thrones”, based on novels by author George R.R. Martin, is a huge hit internationally for HBO (TWX.N) and has won multiple awards. The seventh season last year was watched by some 30 million viewers in the United States alone.

The final season is due to be broadcast in 2019, bringing to a close the saga of the warring families in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and their multi-generational struggle for control of the Iron Throne.

Benioff and Weiss said on Tuesday they had long been “Star Wars” fans.

“In the summer of 1977 we traveled to a galaxy far, far away, and we’ve been dreaming of it ever since,” they said in a statement. “We are honored by the opportunity, a little terrified by the responsibility, and so excited to get started as soon as the final season of Game of Thrones is complete.”

Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Jill Serjeant, Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Rosalba O’Brien

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