It's Been Planned For A While
The announcement that Disney have purchased LucasFilm, and are planning to make Star Wars Episode 7 sent shockwaves throughout the film community.
But it's important to remember that it's a film that's been mooted since the earliest days of the franchise.
According to Mark Hamill Lucas has been planning Star Wars Episode VII for quite a while, they dicussed it on the set of the original movie...
“He talked about doing a VII, VIII, IX. You know when I first did this, it was four trilogies. 12 movies! And out on the desert, any time between setups… lots of free time. And George was talking about this whole thing. I said, ‘Why are you starting with IV, V and VI? It’s crazy.’
"[ Imitating Lucas ] ‘It’s the most commercial section of the movie.’ He said the first trilogy’s darker, more serious. And the impression I got, he said, ‘Um, how’d you like to be in Episode IX?’ This is 1976. ‘When is that going to be?’ ‘2011.’
"I defy anyone to add 36 years to their lives and not be stunned. Even an eight year old is like, ‘No, I’ll never be 47.’ So I did the math and figured out how old I’d be. I said, ‘Well, what do you want me to do?’ He said, ‘You’ll just be like a cameo. You’ll be like Obi Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope.’
"And I’m thinking, ‘I love the guy. If he wanted me to do light yard work at his house, I’d be out clipping the hedges.’ So I went, ‘Sure.’ But I thought he just realized that he’s going to be doing it the rest of his life and he’d rather not do that.”
When the prospect of a TV series was brought up, Hamill went into outright denial. “See, the thing is, on one hand, the way I look at it is there was a beginning, a middle and an end and it’s over. Even though it’s never over. But for me it’s over. But what’ll happen is these fans will come over, ‘But you just became a Jedi. Now what happens? It’s like doing the story of how 007 got his license to kill and then not telling any stories.’
"So I said, ‘I wish my agent had this much passion.’ They really want me to do these stories. I loved it all, I really did, but I never in my mind ever thought it would be something I’d be talking about this long.”
It was originally going to feature the return of the Emperor...
According to producer Gary Kurtz, an outline for the new trilogy was written and discussed...
"Yes, it was very vague. It was Luke’s journey really up to becoming sort of the premiere Jedi knight in the Obi-Wan Kenobi mold and his ultimate confrontation with the emperor. That was the outline of it and all that happens."
Then Lucas changed his mind
In 1999, just before the release of The Phantom Menace , Lucas told Vanity Fair magazine there were no plans to make Episode 7 .
"I never had a story for the sequels, for the later ones," he told the magazine. "And also, I'll be to a point in my age where to do another trilogy would take 10 years."
Lucas' story ends with the death of Darth Vader
In 2008, Lucas told The LA Times ...
"I get asked all the time, 'What happens after " Return Of The Jedi "?,' and there really is no answer for that," he said.
"The movies were the story of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and when Luke saves the galaxy and redeems his father, that's where that story ends."
Lucas didn't want anyone else to take over the franchise
Speaking to us in May 2008, Lucas made it very clear that he didn't want anyone else in charge of his baby.
"I've left pretty explicit instructions for there not to be any more features. There will definitely be no Episodes VII–IX . That's because there isn't any story. I mean, I never thought of anything.
"And now there have been novels about the events after Episode VI , which isn't at all what I would have done with it. The Star Wars story is really the tragedy of Darth Vader. That is the story. Once Vader dies, he doesn't come back to life, the Emperor doesn't get cloned and Luke doesn't get married..."
Then Lucas changed his mind (again).
It's been four years since that interview, and it's important to remember that Lucas was coming off that back of some pretty extreme fan negativity to the prequel trilogy at that stage.
He revealed his level of hurt to the New York Times earlier this year "Why would I make any more, when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?" - but it now appears that time heals all wounds.
And what Lucas said about Star Wars ending with Vader is true, from a certain point of view...
Star Wars Episode 7 will involve completely new characters...
A key part of the Disney announcement yesterday was this quote, stating that the Star Wars brand "Offers a virtually limitless universe of characters and stories to drive continued feature film releases."
They spoke of a "Universe of more than 17,000 characters inhabiting several thousand planets spanning 20,000 years offer[ ing ] infinite inspiration and opportunities."
So, we expect this to be a completely new chapter, with elements from Lucas' original treatment.
We imagine Mark Hamill will return as Luke's Obi Wan style character, handing over his lightsaber to a whole new universe of characters.
It will be the start of a brand new trilogy
Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger has said that Star Wars Episode 7 "Will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 – and our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years."
This is significant. Disney are so confident about the Star Wars brand they are writing Episode 7 very specifically with a trilogy in mind.
It's similar to the Marvel model, where the first Iron Man film very confidently announced that there would be an Avengers movie somewhere down the line.
We expect a similar level of universe building here. Expect not just a new trilogy, but sidequels, spin-offs and TV shows.
The director will be someone geeks love
There's no way that Disney will risk hiring a journeyman director for this one - so no Gore Verbinski, Brett Ratner or McG - they will be more than aware of the importance of winning the fans over straight away.
That means someone young, cool, who's got a solid background in sci-fi, and, ideally, is known as a fan of the franchise.
We're thinking a Duncan Jones, Rian Johnson or Edgar Wright as opposed to even a Peter Jackson type.
It will be a huge success
No matter who is in the hot seat, the film will be a success.
Even after the overwhelmingly negative reaction to The Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones , Revenge Of The Sith still broke box office records when it was released in 2005.
There's something about Star Wars that keeps people coming back for more.
Disney haven't handed over $4bn for nothing. They're certain to make their money back, but let's just hope they do it in a way that wins fans over. Knowing the company, we're pretty sure they will.
One thing's for sure, we're still getting goosebumps over the fact that in 2015, we'll be sitting down in the cinema and seeing 'A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…' come up once more on the big screen.