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Darth Vader is back to help Disney Plus force choke Netflix with Star Wars series’

Lucasfilm has confirmed multiple new Star Wars shows are coming to the Disney Plus streaming service, including two The Mandalorian spin-offs. However, perhaps in bigger news, the company also confirmed Darth Vader is returning.

Star Wars: Rangers of the New Republic, and Star Wars: Ahsoka have been green lit for production and will feature crossover events culminating in a “climactic story event.” Rosario Dawson, who just appeared in The Mandalorian in the role of Ahsoka Tano, will take the lead role here.

Not much is known yet about the Rangers of the New Republic show, but we have seen those guys show up in multiple The Mandalorian episodes thus far, so it would be cool to see them hunting down the remnants of the Empire.

The blockbuster news is Hayden Christensen will be returning alongside Ewan McGregor for the long awaited Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone series. Production starts in March 2021 and the series will be set after the events of Revenge of The Sith. That means Christensen will be playing Darth Vader rather than Anakin Skywalker.

Lando, The Acolyte, and more

The announcements didn’t stop there. Disney also confirmed a standalone show based on that old scoundrel Lando Calrissian. Hopefully, Donald Glover, who played him in the standalone Solo film, will be on board but that was not confirmed today.

You’ll also see in the tweet above that Star Wars Visions, a series of short films from Japanese anime creators is also on the way to Disney Plus.

The announcements continued with The Acolyte, described as “a mystery-thriller that will take viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.”

Meanwhile, the animated A Droid Story “will introduce us to a new hero guided by R2D2 and C3PO.” We’re not sure when and where this one is set, but ILM is working with Lucasfilm Animation on the project.

All this is without the Rogue One spin-off starring Cassian Andor, which was already confirmed by the streaming platform in months gone by. So, it seems there will not be a shortage of Star Wars series on Disney Plus. Perhaps one of the slew will be airing perennially?

New Star Wars films too

Disney also confirmed two new Star Wars films are one the way. An unnamed project from Taika Waititi, who has directed on The Mandalorian, Jojo Rabbit and Thor Ragnarok, now gets his own Star Wars movie.

As does Wonder Woman director Patti Jenkins, who is making Rogue Squadron. Presumably, this will be based around the classic Nintendo 64 game from 1998. You can hear here talk about it below.

It seems unlikely that these movies will be coming directly to Disney Plus, unless the cinema chains collapse in the next year or two. Perhaps it isn’t so likely after all.

Disney Plus is surging

All of this can only boost Disney Plus’ long-term prospects. Earlier on Thursday the company announced the streaming service has already racked up an astonishing 86.8 million subscribers, little over a year after the platform launched in the United States.

Buoyed by on-demand access to a vast back catalogue of Marvel, Star Wars and Disney and Pixar content – as well as new hits like The Mandalorian – the service continues to go from strength to strength with so much more original content – like the above – on the way.

The new 86.8 million tally is up from the 73 million Disney revealed during its earnings report one month ago. The news comes with Disney shares at an all-time high, despite most of its theme parks remaining closed or at limited capacity.

This is  before a slew of new exclusive planned Star Wars and Marvel TV series arrive on the platform and before the new feature-length Pixar movie Soul arrives on Christmas Day, which is also sure to boost numbers. Disney has also confirmed that the long-awaited Wanda Vision spin-off will launch on January 15.

Related: Best Disney Plus shows and movies

During its Investor Day on Thursday, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the success of the service thus far was beyond the company’s “wildest expectations.”

Disney executive Kareem Daniel also said that overall Disney Plus will get ten new Marvel series, ten Star Wars series, 15 live-action Disney, Disney Animation and Pixar Series, as well as Pixar films. We now know about most of these, but there are some unknowns in there too.

The company also promised a brand new ad-free bundle in the US which will offer Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu for $18.99.

The success comes in the most competitive streaming market we’ve ever seen. With Netflix reaching 195 million subscribers worldwide – albeit within slowing growth – and the arrival of Apple TV Plus, HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock and CBS All Access in the United States. There’s also the continuing growth of Amazon Prime Video, which has an aggressive original content plan including a series based on The Lord of The Rings.

Are Netflix’s days as the king of the streaming realm over? Let us know @trustedreviews on Twitter.

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