Two days after it was announced, the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney and the revelation of a new trilogy of “Star Wars” films on the way continues spur discussion, excitement, speculation and more. We’re still three years out from ‘Episode VII’ arriving in 2015, but given the amount of updates and tidbits pouring out over the past 48 hours, you would think it was coming next month. What we do know thus far is that, once again bucking fan expectations, Lucas has decided not to use the revered books, but is launching an original story, one that will reportedly feature Luke Skywalker, now in his 30s or 40s, in a tale that will follow “Stars Wars: Episode IV – Return Of The Jedi.” And while a treatment is done, it appears that George Lucas was open to other ideas.
The LA Times reveals that in the months before the sale to Disney was announced, Lucas, his replacement at Lucasfilm and new co-chair Kathleen Kennedy met with writers to hear pitches for what ‘Episode 7’ should be. According to their source, the talent “were well-known screenwriters with experience creating big-budget Hollywood films.” So, was Lucas feeling out who would be best suited to bring his treatment to life? Or was he ready to switch gears if a better idea came along? Depending on who you believe, Lucas has either always planned his saga this far out, or, as he has sometimes said himself, he hasn’t. However, while fans continue to cross their fingers for Christopher Nolan or David Fincher to direct (sorry guys, not going to happen), at the screenwriting level at least, it seems they are going for big names.
Another interesting tidbit comes from EW, who caught up with Luke himself, Mark Hamill, to talk about the news. He remained cautious about saying too much, but did confirm that he and Carrie Fisher met with Lucas this summer, where Lucas told them his plans for a new series of movies. “He did tell us last summer about wanting to go on and do [Episodes] VII, VIII, and IX, and that [newly appointed Lucasfilm president] Kathleen Kennedy would be doing them,” he said, adding: “I missed his call yesterday, but I spoke to him maybe three weeks ago. But until we know more, it’s hard to make any comment other than congratulations to George.”
“…last August, he asked Carrie and I to have lunch with him and we did. I thought he was going to talk about either his retirement or the ‘Star Wars’ TV series that I’ve heard about — which I don’t think we were going to be involved in anyway, because that takes place between the prequels and the ones we were in and, if Luke were in them, he’d be anywhere from a toddler to a teenager so they’d get an age-appropriate actor — or the 3-D releases. So when he said, ‘We decided we’re going to do Episodes VII, VIII, and IX,’ I was just gobsmacked. ‘What? Are you nuts?!’ [Laughs],” Hamill said.
But for now, it seems Lucas was just giving his original cast members a heads up, rather than eyeing them for roles. “…he was just talking about writers and the fact that he wouldn’t be directing. I guess he wanted us to know before everybody else knew. He said, ‘Now you can’t tell anybody!’ [Laughs] Even now I’m nervous about saying anything. I just don’t know!,” Hamill shared.
Lastly, we’ve all ribbed Lucas a bit for pocketing a check for $4 billion for Lucasfilm, but it appears he’s going to do some tremendous good with the money. THR reports that Lucas will channel a good portion of the money into a foundation that will focus on educational issues. “For 41 years, the majority of my time and money has been put into the company,” Lucas said in a statement. “As I start a new chapter in my life, it is gratifying that I have the opportunity to devote more time and resources to philanthropy.” And you know what? That’s pretty rad.