THE ACOLYTE Showrunner Confirms Multi-Season Plan And Reveals Surprisingly Shot Episode Runtimes

The first trailer for Star Wars: The Acolyte was released yesterday and, unsurprisingly, it’s split opinions among fans of the franchise. That’s become the norm in recent years, but it seems the majority is intrigued by where this High Republic story will take them. 

Showrunner Leslye Headland recently spoke with Collider (via SFFGazette.com) and was asked how much we’re actually seeing from the 8-episode series in that sneak peek. “It’s from a lot of episodes,” she confirms. “It’s not from a whole series, but I would say it’s from 4 to 5 episodes.”

As for how long each of those will be, it sounds like The Acolyte‘s episodes will be on the shorter side. “About 30 minutes, yeah. I would say some of them are a little bit longer, like the finale, I think it’s 40 minutes. But there are also some that I think are barely 30 minutes. On average, I would say somewhere between like 30-35 [minutes].”

Star Wars fans have typically been disappointed when episodes of The Mandalorian and Ahsoka, for example, have clocked in at the 30-minute mark, but that’s typically because their respective seasons have boasted much longer instalments. However, it seems The Acolyte was developed with these runtimes in mind.  

That doesn’t mean this should be viewed as a four-hour movie presented in an episodic format, though. 

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“I think that [Russian Doll] was this continuous [thing], like a really good album,” Headland said, dismissing the notion of The Acolyte being a movie split into eight episodes. “It was meant to be sat and watched and listened to and all that kind of stuff. But I actually think that it is a more weekly experience, and I think it’s good that it’s a weekly experience because I think when you’re dealing with really heavy issues, especially in Star Wars, I think having a break for a week is actually a good idea.”

Looking to the future, the showrunner’s hope seems to be for The Acolyte to play out over multiple years. Whether that will happen with Disney shifting focus back to theatrical releases is hard to say (The Mandalorian season 4 is now The Mandalorian & Grogu), but will this make for a satisfying one-and-done?

“I would say that when I pitched it, I definitely pitched it as a multi-season show,” Headland reveals. “There are a lot of things at the end of this season that I think are narrative threads that are not tied up, for sure. However, I am the type of writer that is not interested in an emotional cliffhanger. I want you to feel like you’ve had a particular type of catharsis, and an emotional experience in watching those eight episodes because I like rewarding the audience with that.”

“I still think that means you can pepper in things that are like, ‘I wanna see where that’s gonna go’ and, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that person was related to that person in this way, and I’d like to see more.’ But there isn’t something where you feel like you’re on the edge of your seat to have that catharsis, and then you have to wait two years. These things take forever to make, so I would hate to make a season that didn’t feel complete, even if it was still open for more story.”

Star Wars: The Acolyte will premiere on Disney+ on June 4.