Star Wars sequel trilogy
The Star Wars title card/logo, as seen in all films
The Star Wars sequel trilogy is the upcoming third trilogy in the Star Wars space opera film series created by George Lucas. It consists of Episodes VII through IX and will follow Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in the saga's chronology. The trilogy was planned around 1975 by Lucas, who initially said that he wanted to do four trilogies of films. After the success of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Lucas planned to include three trilogies. However, in publicity reviews for Return of the Jedi, Lucas refused to commit to a schedule for when he would continue the saga. In 1987, Lucas confirmed that he would eventually continue the saga, starting with the prequel trilogy.
During the late 1990s, Lucas said that it was unlikely he would do the sequel trilogy and said that Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was to be the final film in the saga. However, in 2012, Lucas later revealed plans for the sequel trilogy. With the announcement of its acquisition of Lucasfilm, The Walt Disney Company revealed plans for Episode VII, with a release in 2015, followed by Episode VIII and Episode IX. On January 25, 2013, J. J. Abrams was confirmed as the director and producer of Episode VII, with Michael Arndt writing the screenplay. Original cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are expected to return to the UK to shoot the seventh film in the series.
The specifics of the story content of Episodes VII to IX have repeatedly been referred to as vague (particularly when compared to the stories for both the classic trilogy of Episodes IV to VI and the prequel trilogy of Episodes I to III, which were relatively better defined). However, hints that George Lucas gave over the years about the content of the sequel trilogy included the following (sometimes contradictory) possibilities:
- Episode VII would begin roughly 20 (or perhaps 30-40) years after the end of Return of the Jedi (according to Lucas in 1980 and 1982).
- R2-D2 and C-3PO would be the only characters who might continue through all nine films (Lucas in 1980, 1981 and 1983).
- The trilogy would deal with the rebuilding of the Republic (Lucas in 1980).
- "It's like a saga, the story of a group of people, a family" (Lucas in 1980).
- The focus would be on Luke Skywalker's journey to becoming the premier Jedi knight, with Luke's sister (who was not Leia) appearing in Episode VIII, and the first appearance of the Emperor, and Luke's ultimate confrontation with him, in Episode IX (a storyline as planned pre-1980, according to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz).
- Luke would have a romantic relationship with a female love interest (Lucas in 1988).
- The main theme of the trilogy would be moral and philosophical problems, such as the necessity for moral choices and the wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong, justice, confrontation, and passing on what you have learned (Lucas in 1983 and 1989).
- The key actors, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, would appear, in their 60s or 70s (Lucas in 1983).
- In Episode IX, Hamill would cameo, "like Obi-Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope" (according to Hamill, in 2004).
Lucas biographer Dale Pollock, who had read the original twelve stories written by Lucas, noted that the new episodes would involve character Luke Skywalker in his 30s or 40s. In an interview, Pollock stated that "the three most exciting stories were 7, 8 and 9. They had propulsive action, really interesting new worlds, new characters. I remember thinking, 'I want to see these 3 movies.'" Pollock expects the screenplays to follow the treatments written by Lucas.
Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy author Timothy Zahn had been briefed by Lucas on his plans for the various Star Wars trilogies during discussions of the Thrawn trilogy writing. After the Disney announcement, Zahn's trilogy had been speculated as the basis for the new trilogies, but Zahn stated that the Thrawn trilogy would fall into the gap between Episode VI and Episode VII. The third film trilogy would involve Luke's children, as each of the three trilogies would involve different generations of the Skywalkers. Zahn also discussed the speculation about any conflict between the films and the Expanded Universe, stating that the “The books were always just the books.” The Thrawn trilogy did introduce things that were used in later Star Wars books and the later Lucas Star Wars movies, such as the name of the planet Coruscant, indicating Lucas “has been keeping a close eye on what has been done”.
Initial vision: nine or twelve films (1976–1981) 
Mark Hamill has stated that Lucas told him in 1976, while filming Star Wars in Tunisia, that four Star Wars trilogies were planned. Lucas suggested Hamill could have a cameo role in Episode IX, which might be filmed in 2001. A Time magazine story in March 1978, quoting Lucas, also contained the assertion there would be 10 further Star Wars films after Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Gary Kurtz was also aware of proposed story elements for Episodes VII to IX before 1980.
Following the success of the first Star Wars film in 1977, George Lucas expanded his plans for the Star Wars saga to include three trilogies rather than two. In 1980, at the time of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas was saying there were seven further Star Wars films he wanted to make. He said he had "twelve-page outlines" for those films. In an interview with Steranko in Prevue magazine published in late 1980, Lucas described how the expansive scope of Star Wars had started with an overlong screenplay: "So, I took the screenplay and divided it into three stories, and rewrote the first one. As I was writing, I came up with some ideas for a film about robots, with no humans in it. When I got to working on the Wookiee, I thought of a film just about Wookiees, nothing else. So, for a time, I had a couple of odd movies with just those characters. Then, I had the other two films, which were essentially split into three parts each, two trilogies. When the smoke cleared, I said, 'This is really great. I'll do another trilogy that takes place after this.' I had three trilogies of nine films, and then another couple of odd films. Essentially, there were twelve films." He then added that he had "eliminated the odd movies, because they really don't have anything to do with the Star Wars saga. ... I'm just going to keep it pure. It's a nine-part saga that has a beginning, a middle and an end. It progresses over a period of about fifty or sixty years with about twenty years between trilogies, each trilogy taking about six or seven years." In this interview, Lucas also stated that he had "titles and ten-page story outlines for each of" the nine episodes. In an interview with Gary Kurtz in the same magazine, Kurtz said, "[w]hether or not all nine or twelve films actually get made depends on how George feels as time goes along. The series may happen the way he originally planned or may completely change. As the films are made, each of the stories develops. As each is finished, I think the direction of the saga may change a bit."
In an interview with Starlog magazine published in September 1981, Lucas confirmed that he had the nine film series plotted, cautioning "but it's a long way from the plot to the script. I've just gone through that with Return of the Jedi, and what seems like a great idea when it's described in three sentences doesn't hold together when you try to make five or six scenes out of it. So plots change a lot when they start getting into script form."
Uncertainty about further Star Wars films (1983–1994) 
In interviews during the release of Return of the Jedi, Lucas spoke of the toll that making the first trilogy had taken on his life. He would not be drawn into committing to when he would continue the saga (of which Episodes I to III were always understood to be the next trilogy that would be produced). "I look upon the three Star Wars films as chapters in one book," he told Time magazine in a story published in May 1983, the month of Jedi's release. "Now the book is finished, and I have put it on the shelf."
In May 1987, during a Star Wars 10th Anniversary convention, Lucas confirmed that he would eventually continue the saga, starting with Episodes I to III. Episodes VII to IX were still confirmed as part of "nine [films] floating around there somewhere". As late as 1994, Lucas wrote in the foreword of the special edition of Splinter of the Mind's Eye by Alan Dean Foster, "As the saga of the Skywalkers and Jedi Knights unfolded, I began to see it as a tale that could take at least nine films to tell – three trilogies."
Abandonment of sequel trilogy (1997–2012) 
In publicity interviews relating to the release of the 1997 Special Editions of Episodes IV to VI and the planned Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Lucas began to convey that it was unlikely that he would make the sequel trilogy. At a 1997 Special Edition press conference Lucas remarked, "Everyone said, 'Well, are you going to do sequels to the first three?' But that was an afterthought; I don't have scripts on those stories. The only notion on that was, wouldn't it be fun to get all the actors to come back when they're 60 or 70 years old and make three more about them as old people. That's how far that has gone, but the first six will definitely get finished." In a 1997 issue of Star Wars Insider, Lucas said, "The whole story has six episodes.... If I ever went beyond that, it would be something that was made up. I really don't have any notion other than, 'Gee, it would be interesting to do Luke Skywalker later on.' It wouldn't be part of the main story, but a sequel to this thing." In an online Q&A hosted by Leonard Maltin and published in December 1997, Lucas was asked "Will we ever get to see Episodes 7, 8 and 9?", to which he answered, "Right at this moment, the answer is no. Once the prequel trilogy is complete I plan to put Star Wars on the shelf and walk away from it for good. There are many other kinds of films I would like to make."
This was confirmed in an interview Lucas gave to Vanity Fair, published in its February 1999 issue. "When you see it in six parts, you'll understand," he said. "It really ends at part six." He added, "I never had a story for the sequels, for the later ones."[verification needed] (In 2008, after all six films had been released, Lucas clarified that it was the resolution of the Anakin Skywalker / Luke Skywalker storyline that represented the saga's end: "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.") Asked about the possibility of someone else making Star Wars films, Lucas said, "Probably not, it's my thing." In August 1999, at a press conference in New York City to discuss The Phantom Menace, Lucas was categorical. A further comment Lucas made at that 1999 press conference noted the "nine year commitment" required to make a Star Wars trilogy. The theme of the commitment required, and his age, were the subject of his remarks in following years about why his position had changed about the sequel trilogy. In 2002, he described his past answers about the sequels in this way: "Basically what I said as a joke was, 'Maybe when Harrison and Carrie are in their 70s, we'll come back and do another version.' The thing I didn't realize then, and that I do realize now very clearly, is that not only would they be in their 70s, but I would be in my 70s too." In 2007 Lucas described making the films at that age as "An idea that seemed amusing at the time, but doesn't seem realistic now", and suggested that 'off-the-cuff' comments he had made in earlier years about the sequel trilogy had been misconstrued as absolute statements. In relation to his decision to begin work on the prequel trilogy when he did, he also said: "To start Star Wars when you're 65, the chances of finishing it are diminished" (a remark that could equally refer to the sequel trilogy).
In early May 2002, just before the worldwide release of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and while Lucas was working on the script for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, rumors of Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII, and IX were posted on the Internet. In reply, Lucas noted that there would be no Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII, and IX since the time felt right to move on:
I am going to do my own movies. I have got some ideas but they are the kind of movies that aren't going to be popular, they're not going to be successful in terms of financing. I have managed to get a fund by doing these (blockbuster) movies that allows me the creative freedom to do things that may never see the light of day – or if they do get distributed they will be on a very limited basis because they are not mass entertainment movies. There are a lot of things I still want to do. I want to do a TV show, some TV movies, mostly they will be historical in nature.
Lucas also noted "Ultimately, the saga will be six films, a 12-hour story. Then people can watch all six films together as they were intended to be seen."
A little over two years later, in September 2004, Lucas squashed rumors that the 2005 release of Episode III would be followed by additional sequels: "There is no VII, VIII, IX. There never has been. ... The story was originally intended to be IV, V, and VI. But I had a back story which I found fascinating, and now you've got the full story from beginning to end. There really isn't any more." In June 2005, franchise producer Rick McCallum confirmed that Lucas would not be making Episodes VII, VIII, and IX.
In an interview published in Total Film in May 2008, Lucas also ruled out anybody else ever making the sequel trilogy (or other future Star Wars features). Asked if he was happy for new Star Wars tales to be told after he was gone, Lucas replied: "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..." The phenomenon of the Star Wars 'Expanded Universe', with stories told in novels, comic books and other media, also appears to have been a factor in Lucas seeing no need to produce a sequel trilogy: "Whatever it is that happens afterward, that isn't the core Star Wars story that I like to tell," he said in 2008. "There really isn't any story to tell there. It's been covered in the books and video games and comic books, which are things I think are incredibly creative but that I don't really have anything to do with other than being the person who built the sandbox they're playing in."
In July 2008, Lucas explained the logical difficulties of making Star Wars Episode VII:
The story, the saga, of Star Wars, – which is the Skywalker saga or the tragedy of Darth Vader – starts with him being 10 years old. It ends when he dies. Luke's role in that story is the fact that he redeems his father, but that is the story. There is no more story after that. What happens to Luke after that, it isn't relevant to the story of what happens to Darth Vader because he's gone.
In January 2012, Lucas continued to assert that there would be no Episode VII. In an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Lucas stated that the aerial combat footage in his 2012 American war film Red Tails "is as close as you’ll get to [Star Wars] Episode VII." In an interview with The New York Times, discussing mixed fan reactions to the prequel trilogy and to alterations made to the original trilogy (such as Ewoks blinking and the bar scene where Greedo now shoots first) Lucas said, regarding further Star Wars films: "Why would I make any more, when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?"
As Lucas took steps to retire from Lucasfilm in 2012, he experienced a change of heart. Lucas revealed plans to film Episodes VII, VIII, and IX to series stars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in August 2012 in confidence. At that time, he indicated that he would not direct the films and that Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy would produce. He did not discuss Fisher and Hamill's involvement in the production and he did not disclose that he was planning to sell Lucasfilm.
Disney–Lucasfilm trilogy 
On October 30, 2012, it was announced that The Walt Disney Company would acquire Lucasfilm for US$4.05 billion, half in cash and half in shares of Disney. Privately held Lucasfilm would become a unit of Disney, as with Marvel Entertainment and Pixar. As part of the announcement, Disney announced that Star Wars Episode VII would be released in 2015; additional Star Wars films would then be released two or three years apart. Lucasfilm already had Episode VII in early-stage development.
Disney chief executive and chairman Bob Iger told the Financial Times that the deal would slightly reduce returns to shareholders over the next two years, but that it would become profitable for them in 2015, once Episode VII is released.
Episode VII 
Star Wars Episode VII is an upcoming film from Lucasfilm scheduled to be released by Disney in 2015. It is to be the first Star Wars film produced under Disney's ownership of Lucasfilm. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy will serve as executive producer of the film, and George Lucas will serve as creative consultant. This film is to be based on a screenplay by Michael Arndt.
As part of the Lucasfilm purchase, Disney received an "extensive story treatment" by Lucas for Episode VII. Neither Lucas nor Disney revealed any details of the plot at the film's announcement. It has been confirmed by both companies that Episode VII will be an original story and not directly based on the various novels, graphic novels, or other materials in the Star Wars Expanded Universe that take place during the post-Return of the Jedi time period. This includes, most notably, Timothy Zahn's 1991 novel Heir to the Empire, the first installment in Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy, which was originally considered by some fans to be Episode VII. In a video interview that was part of the purchase announcement, Kennedy stated that she and Lucas had already met with writers to discuss the film script. Less than two weeks after the purchase, Disney announced that Michael Arndt had been chosen to write the screenplay.
In an August 2012 meeting with actors Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, Lucas disclosed that he would not direct the sequels. This was confirmed as part of the Lucasfilm purchase and no director was named at that time. Spielberg ruled himself out as a possible director, citing his incompatibility with the genre. In addition, Zack Snyder and Quentin Tarantino, who were both rumored to have been evaluated for the directing position, denied the rumors. J. J. Abrams said he is "looking forward to the next iterations of Star Wars, but I will be going as a paying moviegoer." Brad Bird said that his next film would be a science-fiction film, but not Star Wars; he said he "will be first in line to see the new Star Wars." Colin Trevorrow also ruled himself out for Episode VII. Jon Favreau was more open to the idea of directing the film. According to Guillermo del Toro, Disney contacted his agent to inquire if he was interested, but del Toro declined, citing commitments to projects of his own and suggesting Brad Bird as a more suitable choice. Producer Frank Marshall, husband of Kathleen Kennedy and long-time collaborator with her in The Kennedy/Marshall Company, said that the search for a director was down to "a couple of candidates". On January 25, 2013, The Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm officially announced Abrams as director and producer, along with Bryan Burk and their company Bad Robot Productions. Production on the film's battle scenes is scheduled to commence in Summer 2013 in the United Kingdom. In May 2013, it was confirmed that the production would take place in the UK.
Harrison Ford indicated he was open to reprising the role of Han Solo, and that the three actors were "upbeat" about returning. It has been rumored Lando Calrissian will be in the film. Ewan McGregor, who portrayed Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequel trilogy, said that he was open to the possibility of playing the character in Episode VII. Samuel L. Jackson, who played Mace Windu in the prequels, also expressed a desire to return to the franchise. John Williams has expressed interest in returning to score the film.
In February 2013, Hamill said of the sequels that "they are talking to us" and he was scheduled to meet with Arndt and Kennedy. Hamill thought there was interest in reuniting the entire original cast. He said before the Disney sale that he and Fisher met with Lucas, who asked if they were interested in returning, and who said filmmakers would not re-cast their roles and instead write the characters out of the script. Hamill told Lucas he wanted the franchise to return to its more carefree and lighthearted original conception. He also stated his intention to the original cast of Ford, Fisher, Williams, Peter Mayhew and Anthony Daniels to be included in the sequels.
In an interview posted March 2013, Fisher said she would reprise her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars Episode VII, "Elderly. She’s in an intergalactic old folks’ home [laughs]. I just think she would be just like she was before, only slower and less inclined to be up for the big battle". After other media outlets reported this on March 6, her representative said the same day Fisher was joking and nothing has been announced. A day later, Lucas confirmed that Hamill, Ford and Fisher were in the final stages of negotiations and that the actors were in discussions to return before the Disney sale. Lucas stated "Maybe I'm not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them. I won't say whether the negotiations were successful or not".
In April 2013, Disney announced that it plans to release a new Star Wars film annually beginning with Episode VII in 2015. The films will alternate between episodic films in the series, and distinct standalone films about other popular characters. Producer Bryan Burk stated that principal photography will likely commence in early 2014 with production mainly taking place in the United Kingdom. Original cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are expected to return for shooting of the film. In May 2013, it was announced that costume designer Michael Kaplan, who worked with Abrams on his Star Trek films, had joined the production team.
Episodes VIII and IX 
The Hollywood Reporter initially reported that Lawrence Kasdan, writer of Episode V and Episode VI, and Simon Kinberg would write and produce Episode VIII and Episode IX; a week later the publication clarified that Kasdan and Kinberg would only be working on future Star Wars projects, but not necessarily on Episode VIII and Episode IX. Kathleen Kennedy said in a talk with ClevverMovies that they anticipate J. J. Abrams, director of Episode VII, might direct Episode VIII and Episode IX as well.
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