Disney plans new 'Star Wars' prequel series for streaming service

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A new “Star Wars” prequel series is on its way, this time for Walt Disney Co’s planned Disney+ streaming service, Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger said on Thursday.

The live action series will be a prequel to the 2016 movie “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and will star Diego Luna, Iger said in an earnings call. The series will start production in 2019.

Iger also said Disney is developing a new series based around Marvel comic book villain Loki, starring British actor Tom Hiddleston.

Disney said last year that it plans to launch its own streaming service in 2019 and would pull its first-run movies from Netflix to put them on a Disney-branded service.

The as yet unnamed “Rogue One” prequel series will follow the adventures of Luna’s rebel spy character Cassian Andor in what Disney described as “tales filled with espionage and daring missions to restore hope to a galaxy in the grip of a ruthless Empire.” A release date was not announced.

Luna said in a statement that the format would be a chance to “explore this character more deeply.”

“Star Wars” is one of Hollywood’s most profitable franchises. Since 2015, Disney has released two of three planned movies based around characters originated by director George Lucas in 1977, two standalone films, and has announced a slew of other spin-off projects.

Thursday’s announcement followed Iger’s admission in a September interview that it had been a mistake to release a new movie in the sci-fi franchise every year, and that fans should expect “some slowdown” going forward.

The release in May of “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” an origin story about smuggler Han Solo, took in a disappointing $400 million at the global box office, well below the $2 billion haul for 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and $1.3 billion for 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Jill Serjeant; editing by Cynthia Osterman and Tom Brown