Now that the dust has begun to settle around Disney's landmark acquisition of Lucasfilm, legions of fans have been left wondering what will come next for the company's most famous property: "Star Wars."
After the news broke earlier this week, Disney wasted no time announcing their plans to move forward with the as-yet-untitled "Star Wars Episode VII" and two follow-up films, but offered very few details about the new trilogy beyond that.
Here's what we do know: Lucas has already outlined the next three Star Wars movies (maybe more) on paper, and the director, along with Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, have reportedly started meeting with potential screenwriters for the "Episode VII." Whomever they choose to write the film will be beholden to base the space adventure film on Lucas' story (or at least elements of it), but the filmmaker-turned-mogul will (thankfully) not be directing the film.
The now semi-retired Lucas intends to stay on in a "creative consultant" capacity and will devote the rest of his time to "experimental films" and charity. A Lucasfilm spokesperson confirmed that the majority of the $4.05 billion Disney paid for the company will likely go to the director's educational foundation.
So what will "Episode VII" and its sequels be about? According to Lucas biographer Dale Pollock, the next three "Star Wars" films will focus on the adventures of a middle-aged Luke Skywalker. How do you say "mid-life crisis" in Huttese? Pollock read the story outlines for the unfilmed "Star Wars" movies while researching for his book "Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas," an unauthorized biography of the filmmaker.
"The three most exciting stories were 7, 8 and 9," Pollock told The Wrap. "They had propulsive action, really interesting new worlds, new characters. I remember thinking, 'I want to see these three movies.'"
For those worried that Pollock is some blind Lucas worshiper and that his opinions of the future "Star Wars" films are coloured by that fact -- don't. Pollock is himself an accomplished film professor, journalist, and producer, who went on the record as saying that he thinks the prequels are "dreadful." Maybe there's hope for "Star Wars" yet.
Actor Mark Hamill, who played farm-boy-turned-Jedi Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy, also weighed in on the big "Star Wars" news, telling Entertainment Weekly that he's known about Lucas' plans since the summer. The director apparently sat down with Hamill and trilogy co-star Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) back in August and revealed his plans to shoot new "Star Wars" movies in the near future.
"I was just gobsmacked," Hamill told Entertainment Weekly. 'What? Are you nuts?!'"
When asked if he knew anything about the films, Hamill said that Lucas was mum on details and was a little worried to even tell his two original trilogy stars. "I guess he wanted us to know before everybody else knew," said Hamill.
While Hamill and Fisher are likely too old to reprise their roles, fan-satisfying cameo appearances will almost be guaranteed.
Lucas himself addressed the Disney takeover and the future of the franchise in a video posted on StarWars.com. In it, he mentions his own story outlines as well as the "treasure trove" of books, comics, and games that Disney will have to draw from for any future "Star Wars" projects. The expanded "Star Wars" universe featured in those books, comics, and games has been following the subsequent adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and the rest for years, and are considered to be official canon by LucasFilm.
While it's unknown if Lucas took any of the expanded universe continuity into account for his story treatments, he has been known to cherry pick elements from the "Star Wars" novels when it has suited him in the past. The name of the Republic capital planet Coruscant comes from author Timothy Zahn's 1991 novel "Heir to the Empire" and was used by Lucas in the prequel films. (Coincidentally, Zahn's bestselling series of books, named the "Thrawn Trilogy,' have always been fan favourite candidates for Episodes VII, VIII, and IX.)
Lucas has also had to sign off on major events that took place in the novels and other expanded universe properties, including the controversial death of Chewbacca in the 1999 novel "Vector Prime." The fact that the director is aware of events in the expanded "Star Wars" universe is reason enough to believe that his movie story outlines may contain elements from the hundreds of published post-movie stories.
Want to know what the new "Star Wars" trilogy will be about? You'd better get reading.
See George Lucas talk about the future of "Star Wars" below: