This is the fourth column in a weekly series from The Rock Father James Zahn. Check back Fridays for the latest in what’s happening in the galaxy far, far away.

It was roughly 16 months ago that the first shot was taken on Red Cup, the second film in Lucasfilm’s series of “standalone” Star Wars spinoffs. It was January 30, 2017, and the buzz got started with a picture of a slate that was tweeted by Christopher Miller, who was then co-directing the film alongside his The Lego Movie partner, Phil Lord. Officially, The Walt Disney Co. would announce the start of production on February 21, again making an announcement four months later that it had all come to a halt and that the directors were out. Just two days later, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard had taken the helm, eventually stepping onto set a mere week after the whole thing blew up. Now, after the daunting task of pulling together and reshaping the film, Solo: A Star Wars Story is in theaters—opening 41 years to the day that George Lucas’ Star Wars first hit screens in 1977. The result? It’s fantastic.

While it’s unlikely that any Star Wars film will manage to exceed the pre-release excitement that I had for 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens (for which I had the honor of working the global media event for Disney), I was more amped for Solo than Rogue One or The Last Jedi—and I love both of those films. Solo is an absolute blast. It’s a high-octane adventure that runs non-stop from front-to-back and left me wanting more—which is everything I could ever want from a film. In a lot of ways it takes me back to reading the original Marvel Comics Star Wars series in the early-mid 1980s. There were just so many great adventures featuring characters that we’d only seen in a limited basis on-screen, and I was eager to learn more. Yes, we know where Han’s death will take place (sorry to the two people who haven’t seen The Force Awakens), but his early years are ripe to be told in further cinematic tales, and I sincerely hope that we haven’t seen the last of Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover as Han and Lando. My wife and I caught the first screening in 3-D on Thursday night, and we’ll be celebrating the formal release by taking our daughters to see Solo at the drive-in tonight in a double-feature with Avengers: Infinity War.

More Spin-offs, More Milestones

If you’ve followed the production and marketing of Star Wars films under the Disney era of Lucasfilm, it should be no surprise that every move is intentional and calculated as to not have one project trample the other, which is a challenge with so many plates spinning. With Solo just hitting theaters, the next Star Wars Story has yet to be announced, though signs point to either the long-rumored Obi-wan Kenobi or Boba Fett films being the likely candidates. Rumors continue to circulate that there’s a Kenobi film in pre-production at Pinewood, but until it’s official, it’s just speculation… even though something is happening. On the eve of Solo, The Hollywood Reporter published an exclusive report that James Mangold will be helming a film based on the most famous bounty hunter to ever wear Mandalorian armor. Is Fett next? I’d expect some kind of official announcement within a week or so, now that Solo is out of the way.

And finally, May 25 is now a date shared by three Star Wars films. In addition to A New Hope and Solo, Return of the Jedi first hit screens on May 25, 1983. As the film celebrates its 35th anniversary, actor Warwick Davis tweeted:

Davis portrayed Wicket W. Warrick, no doubt the most famous Ewok to ever roam the forest moon of Endor. Five years later, Davis would inhabit the lead role in Willow, his first performance under the direction of Ron Howard. Solo marks Davis’ ninth Star Wars project as he’s appeared in eight films and voiced a character on Star Wars Rebels. The Force is with him, indeed!


  • Why no love for the original Star Wars spinoffs? Honest Trailers takes a hilarious look at the first three “standalone” Star Wars adventures… Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor and the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special.
  • What’s the must-have merch from Solo? The Pop Insider EIC Marissa DiBartolo stopped by Fox Business to give Maria Bartiromo the details.
  • Emilia Clarke just got animated! Disney continues Forces of Destiny with a new animated short that brings Qi’ra into the series. After making its debut on Disney Channel, the new short will be available on the Disney YouTube Channel and app.
  • The hit mobile game, Star Wars: Force Arena just got it’s biggest update ever, with characters from Solo including Han, Chewie, Dryden Voss and his bodyguards and more.
  • Could we build the Millennium Falcon? In short, no, but breaks down just what would have to happen to make the ship a reality.
  • Ready to take your own trip to a galaxy far, far away? Disney Parks has revealed when guests will be able to inhabit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for the very first time. It’s coming to both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney World, but there are a few key differences.
  • Star Wars + Hot Wheels? If you missed my last Transmissions, be sure to take a look for some detail on the relationship between these two iconic brands!

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.