Star Wars sequel trilogy
|Star Wars sequel trilogy|
The Star Wars logo as seen in all saga films
|Music by||John Williams|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios
|Budget||$445 million (VII, VIII)|
|Box office||$3.366 billion (VII, VIII)|
The Star Wars sequel trilogy is the third set of three films in the Star Wars franchise, an American space opera created by George Lucas. It is being produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The trilogy is to consist of episodes VII through IX, and chronologically follows Return of the Jedi (1983) in the saga. Lucas had planned a sequel trilogy in the 1970s, but abandoned these plans by the late 1990s, producing only the planned prequel trilogy. The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm in late 2012 and then announced plans to produce this series.
The first installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was released in December 2015 in the U.S. It is directed by J. J. Abrams who co-wrote the screenplay with Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt. Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and other cast members from the original trilogy returned to reprise their roles and co-star alongside Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac.
Unlike the previous two trilogies, whose films were released approximately three years apart and released in Memorial Day, the sequel films are planned to be released two years apart in December. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released in December 2017, with Rian Johnson as screenwriter and director, and most of the cast returning.
The first two films have grossed a combined $3.36 billion worldwide and were both well-received by critics. The third and final installment, Episode IX, was to be directed by Colin Trevorrow, but he was replaced in September 2017 by Abrams, who is to co-write it with Chris Terrio. The film is scheduled to be released in December 2019.
- 1 Initial development
- 2 Production
- 3 Films
- 4 Reception
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
According to Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, in 1976, Star Wars creator George Lucas told him that he planned three Star Wars trilogies. Lucas suggested Hamill could have a cameo role in Episode IX, which he imagined filming by 2011. A Time magazine story in March 1978, quoting Lucas, stated there would be ten Star Wars films after The Empire Strikes Back. Gary Kurtz was also aware of proposed story elements for Episode VII to Episode IX before 1980. In 1980, at the time of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas said 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 Jim 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 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.
From 1997 to 2012, Lucas frequently stated that he had no plans to make the sequel trilogy and would not allow others to do so. He gave various explanations for the apparent abandonment of plans to film the sequel trilogy.
At a 1997 "Special Edition" press conference, Lucas said: "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." In a 1997 issue of Star Wars Insider, he 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 interview published in the February 1999 issue of Vanity Fair, Lucas said: "When you see it in six parts, you'll understand. It really ends at part six. I never had a story for the sequels, for the later ones." In early May 2002, just before the worldwide release of Episode II: Attack of the Clones and while Lucas was working on the script for Episode III, 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 feels 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." In 2008, after all six films had been released, Lucas 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."
In August 1999, at a press conference in New York City to discuss The Phantom Menace, Lucas described the "nine year commitment" required to make a Star Wars trilogy. In 2002, he said: "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 had been misconstrued as absolute statements.
In 1999, when asked about the possibility of someone else making Star Wars films, Lucas said, "Probably not, it's my thing." In a 2008 interview in Total Film, Lucas ruled out anybody else making Star Wars films. Asked if he was happy for new Star Wars films to be made after his death, he said: "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..."
George Lucas's early drafts
During the 1980s, after 1980's release of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas had written story treatments for episodes: VI, and the sequel trilogy consisting of episodes VII, VIII and IX. Dale Pollock, George Lucas's biographer, revealed in a 2012 interview, that as part of his biographical research during the 1980s, Lucas had allowed him to read the plot outlines for the at the time comprising 12 planned Star Wars film episodes, albeit on the condition of signing a confidentiality agreement. About the 1980s sequel trilogy drafts, Pollock said:
- "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.'"
- The next film series would "involve Luke Skywalker in his 30s and 40s."
- Disney would probably use Lucas's outlines as the basis for the sequel trilogy. "That's in part what Disney bought."
Those were Lucas original plans for the sequel trilogy. Other than Pollock's vague description, no official information about the 1980s script treatments for the sequel trilogy has been released. Those plans were drastically changed after Empire Strikes Back released because Lucas decided not to make the sequel trilogy, and instead let the story be a trilogy by ending the storyline with Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. This led Lucas to rework and fully incorporate many of the plots from his discarded sequel trilogy directly into Return of the Jedi. Those incorporated elements include:
- The focus on Luke Skywalker's journey to becoming the premier Jedi Knight.
- "Luke's sister", who was originally meant to be a new character (set to appear in Episode VIII). However by Return of the Jedi's final script, it was decided Leia would be retconned into being Luke's sister (a plot element further set in stone by Episode III: Revenge of the Sith).
- The first appearance of the Emperor and Luke's ultimate confrontation with him. Both also fully happened within Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (Lucas originally planned for both to happen in Episode IX), that specific storyline had been planned as early as pre-1980, according to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz.
George Lucas's post-Episode VI: Return of the Jedi drafts
For the next 35 years, Lucas gave many hints about many of the plot elements from his discarded 1980s script treatments for the sequel trilogy, or what would happen if he were to make a sequel trilogy. Those discarded plots, continued to fascinate fans for decades, as many of them were completely unaffected by the conclusion of the original trilogy; thus leaving the sequel trilogy a possibility of using them. Among those things Lucas hinted at, are:
- 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).
- 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, Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Ford as Han Solo, and 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).
- "The other one — what happens to Luke afterward — is much more ethereal. I have a tiny notebook full of notes on that. If I’m really ambitious, I could proceed to figure out what would have happened to Luke" (Lucas in 1980).
During the early 1990s, Lucas allowed writer Timothy Zahn to write a Star Wars expanded universe novel series set after the events in the original trilogy, which was called the Thrawn Trilogy. Between 1999 and 2005, Lucas made the prequel trilogy of Episodes I, II, and III, and decided to end the saga as six films. This decision meant that Lucas decided to cancel the sequel trilogy, this was until he had a change of heart in the 2010s, when Lucas wrote more ideas for the sequel trilogy and strongly considered to direct Episode VII for a May 2015 release. Zahn was interviewed about it in 2012, he confirmed the sequel trilogy was never meant to be based on his Thrawn novels nor the expanded universe but said he had been briefed years before on Lucas's plans for the sequels. (Zahn had discussions with Lucas before the first Thrawn novel was published in 1991.)
The original idea as I understood it—and Lucas changes his mind off and on, so it may not be what he’s thinking right now—but it was going to be three generations. You’d have the original trilogy, then go back to Luke’s father and find out what happened to him, and if there was another seventh, eighth, or ninth film, it would be Luke's children.
As announced by Lucasfilm, the sequel trilogy also meant the end of most of the existing Star Wars expanded universe, so as to give "maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience". Much of the old expanded universe content would continue to be available under the Star Wars: Legends brand, which was created to brand the non-canonical works of the franchise.
Few details have been revealed about the contents of Lucas's 2010s story treatments for the sequel trilogy, the revelations came from the book, called Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The book disclosed that in January 2013 at Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas himself, held the first brief about the as-yet untitled Episode VII and its story. Showing numerous concept arts including:
- An older Luke Skywalker. Luke exiled himself to a remote location where the first Jedi temple existed decades after the fall of the Galactic Empire.
- A female young Jedi padawan named Kira (who likely evolved into Rey).
- A bell-shaped design for the first Jedi temple, as designed by VFX art director James Clyne. (The idea would later be reworked as the planet Ahch-To, seen in Episode VIII: The Last Jedi).
- Luke would have started off as reluctant to train Kira, albeit through the film he would have a change of heart and eventually agree to train her.
George Lucas's ideas for Episode VII were noted to be closer to Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, than to the actual J.J. Abrams's directed and Lawrence Kasdan written Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Lucas's ideas for Episode VII were seemingly discarded by J.J. Abrams in 2013. Lucas seemingly had planned for the conclusion of Luke's story to happen in Episode VII instead of Episode VIII.
Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm
Speaking after Disney's 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm, Lucas (sitting alongside new Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy), said: "I always said I wasn't going to do any more, and that's true, because I'm not going to do any more. But that doesn't mean I'm unwilling to turn it over to Kathy to do more."
However, in 2015 Lucas said he planned to finish Episode VII, release it in May 2015 and then sell the company afterward. But Disney expressed interest, with Lucas saying "It's better for me to get out at the beginning of a new thing and I can just remove myself. The time is more important to me than the money." Both plot-outlines, the one written in the 1980s and the one written in the 2010s, were turned over to Disney chairman Bob Iger around the time that Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012.
During an interview with Cinemablend in January 2014, while promoting the upcoming release of the Lucasfilm animated movie Strange Magic, Lucas revealed that ultimately, Disney chose not to use the story treatments which he had written and turned over with the acquisition, and that the company chose to create brand new stories for the upcoming movies instead: "The ones that I sold to Disney, they came up to the decision that they didn't really want to do those. So they made up their own. So it's not the ones that I originally wrote [on screen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens]".
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Screenwriter(s)||Producer(s)||Status|
|Star Wars: The Force Awakens[a]||December 18, 2015||J. J. Abrams||Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams and Michael Arndt||Kathleen Kennedy, J. J. Abrams and Bryan Burk||Released|
|Star Wars: The Last Jedi[b]||December 15, 2017||Rian Johnson||Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman|
|Star Wars: Episode IX||December 20, 2019||J. J. Abrams||J. J. Abrams and Chris Terrio||Kathleen Kennedy, J. J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan||Pre-production|
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens, the first film in the sequel trilogy, takes place approximately 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. It includes new characters, as well as characters from the original trilogy, in search of Luke Skywalker with the help of Han Solo, and Princess Leia along with Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. The Force Awakens, like the subsequent two films, is based on an original screenplay and not a storyline from the expanded universe.
The original trilogy's cast joins newcomers Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac. It is directed by J. J. Abrams, who co-wrote a revised version of the screenplay along with Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Original drafts of The Force Awakens script were written by Michael Arndt, but ultimately early character and plot elements in Arndt's vision came into conflict with the conceptual ideas of director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, as well as filming schedules and ultimately Arndt was removed from the project due to creative differences and time constraints, being replaced by Kasdan as the primary co-creative visionary to Abrams' plot concepts.
George Lucas was set to provide Abrams with advice as a creative consultant; however, Lucas had no involvement with the film, with his representative stating Lucas "ideally would love not to see any footage until he walks into the theater next December. He has never been able to be surprised by a Star Wars film before and he said he was looking forward to it." The film began pre-production on October 30, 2012. Production began in April 2014; it was released on December 18, 2015. In the US, the film is rated PG-13 "for sci-fi action violence", the second Star Wars film to receive that rating after Revenge of the Sith (the five other films received a PG rating).
The film broke opening weekend box office records in North America with $248 million ($39 million more than previous record holder Jurassic World) and totals of $529 million worldwide, the largest opening ever. The film set another new record by becoming the first movie to break the $1 billion mark in box office sales in just 12 days. It is currently the highest-grossing film of all time in North America and the third highest-grossing film worldwide, unadjusted for inflation.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
On June 20, 2014, Rian Johnson was announced as writer and director of Episode VIII and story treatment writer of Episode IX. Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman were the producers and J. J. Abrams is the executive producer. Steve Yedlin is the cinematographer. Johnson confirmed in August 2014 that he would direct Episode VIII.
In March 2015, Oscar Isaac confirmed he would reprise his The Force Awakens role of Poe Dameron in Episode VIII. In July 2015, it was reported that Benicio del Toro was being considered for a villain; del Toro later confirmed that he had been cast. In September 2015, it was reported that Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tatiana Maslany, Gina Rodriguez, Olivia Cooke, and Bel Powley were on the shortlist for two separate parts. Jimmy Vee was cast as R2-D2, succeeding Kenny Baker, who died in August 2016.
Much of the filming for Episode VIII took place at Pinewood Studios near London. In September 2015, some pre-production filming took place on the island of Skellig Michael, Ireland to take advantage of better weather conditions. In a November 2015 interview with Wired, Abrams stated that the film's script was completed. In December 2015, Hamill, Isaac, Christie, and Boyega were confirmed to reprise their roles as Luke Skywalker, Poe Dameron, Captain Phasma, and Finn, respectively. Kennedy announced on December 17, 2015, at the London premiere for The Force Awakens that most of the cast would return for Episode VIII. On January 20, 2016, Lucasfilm and Disney announced that the release of the film would be delayed to December 15, 2017. Principal photography began in February 2016. Additional filming took place in Dubrovnik from March 9 to March 16, 2016, as well as in Ireland. Principal photography wrapped in July 2016. On December 27, 2016, Carrie Fisher died after going into cardiac arrest a few days earlier. Fisher had completed filming her role as General Leia Organa before her death. On January 23, 2017, the film was given a confirmed release date of December 15, 2017 with the title Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Star Wars: Episode IX
In June 2014, Johnson was announced as writing a story treatment for Episode IX, but later stated he had not been involved with writing the film. In August 2015, Colin Trevorrow was announced as the director of Episode IX,  and he, with Derek Connolly, began writing a script. In February 2016, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that pre-production of Episode IX had begun.
In late December 2016, following the death of Carrie Fisher, media outlets reported that she had been slated for a key role in Episode IX. A few weeks later, Lucasfilm stated that they would not digitally recreate Fisher's performance for the film, and in April 2017, Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that Fisher will not be in Episode IX. In August, it was announced that Jack Thorne would write the script.
In September 2017, Lucasfilm announced that Trevorrow had stepped down as director of the film, and a week later, it was announced that J.J. Abrams would return to direct Episode IX. Abrams will also co-write the film with Chris Terrio, in addition to producing the film through his company Bad Robot Productions, with Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan.
The cast members currently confirmed to return are Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. Principal photography is set to begin in July 2018. Originally, Disney had intended for the film to be released in December, as with the other sequel films The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but then chose a release date of May 24, 2019, a time frame more common to Star Wars releases prior to the Disney purchase. However, after Abrams took over the film from Trevorrow, the film's release date was moved back to the holiday season. The film is now scheduled to be released on December 20, 2019.
On January 10, 2018, it was reported that John Williams will return to compose and conduct the music for Episode IX. The next month, Williams announced that Episode IX will be the last Star Wars film music he will be composing.
Critical and public response
|Star Wars: The Force Awakens||93% (380 reviews)||81 (54 reviews)||A|
|Star Wars: The Last Jedi||90% (366 reviews)||85 (56 reviews)||A|
Box office performance
|Film||U.S. release date||Box office gross||All-time Ranking||Budget||Ref(s)|
|U.S. and Canada||Other territories||Worldwide||U.S. and Canada||Worldwide|
|Star Wars: The Force Awakens||December 18, 2015||$ million 936.7||$ billion 1.132||$ billion 2.068||1||3||$245 million|||
|Star Wars: The Last Jedi||December 15, 2017||$ million 619.1||$ million 712||$ billion 1.331||6||9||$200 million|||
|Total||$ billion 1.556||$ billion 1.844||$ billion 3.399||$445 million|
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- Also known as Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
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