With yesterday shocking announcements of Lucasfilm being sold to Disney as well as a new “Star Wars” trilogy in the early stages of production, I have been flooded on my social network and inbox by followers asking where I think the direction of the new films will go. As someone who remembers very vividly attending opening weekend of the original Star Wars back in 77 as well as the profound impact the film have on my life, I can say that I’m really looking for two new films and other projects but have some concerns as well.
Series creator George Lucas has made it very clear up the past several years that the film series was done and that the future of Star Wars would be on the television screen. The first part of this is seen in the highly successful Clone Wars animated series, and there’ve also been plans for live-action series that would bridge the gap between episodes three and four. The biggest issue to date with the live-action series is how to take the grand scope and scale of the Star Wars universe and make it work and a budget friendly television format.
Disney has said that they plan to continue films beyond the new trilogy, and that they will do if all goes as planned, a movie roughly every three years once the new trilogy begins in 2015. This will give hope to such rumored projects as the Boba Fett movie which was recently rumored, as Disney confirmed that some of the films would indeed be standalone that focused on peripheral characters from the series both old and new.
Lucas had cited his pop culture bashing over the prequel trilogy is one of his reasons not to do any more films. A couple of years back I interviewed director Kevin Smith, and when I asked him why he was not involved with any of the Star Wars projects he replied that as great an honor as it would be it is very difficult to play in someone else’s sandbox under their rules.
Lucas must have seriously changed his mind, and I’m sure the $4 billion in cash and stock definitely helped, because he now says that he is eager to turn Star Wars over to a new generation of filmmakers who will continue his series with Lucas remaining in a creative consultant position.
With that in mind there are numerous ideas that can be explored for future films. I for one would absolutely love to see a Sith era series that explores why the Jedi were so complacent in dealing with the Sith and operated under the belief that their threat was gone from the galaxy forever even when confronted with evidence that they appear to have returned.
There is also the possibility of doing films based around the Old Republic series of games as this would allow filmmakers greater leeway as they review no conflicts will with using an established characters.
In my opinion the likely course of the sequels will not deal with any of the expanded era storylines that are currently out. While it would be nice to see the character again, I think it is highly unlikely that Harrison Ford will return as Han Solo. He’s repeatedly said that he is finished with the character and rumor has it even lobbied for Honda be killed off in “Return of the Jedi”. Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill remain as possibilities to replies the roles of older Luke and Leah but they would most likely be supporting roles as in this era of big-budget blockbusters younger, more dynamic, and box office friendly faces will likely be cast for the coveted film series.
My guess is that it may be more like a Star Wars the next generation type thing where we jump a few decades beyond the events of “Return of the Jedi”, where the audience is given a chance to catch up with the galaxy post Empire, where new threat will arise, forcing a mix of heroes old and new to save the day.
I expect the films will be shot in 3-D, and that they will naturally be visually spectacular. One concern I have is that Disney is not normally the studio known for large budgeted films. While they have made strides in this area recently with “John Carter”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, and the pending “The Lone Ranger”, there is substantial risk with a $200 million plus movie. Just look at “John Carter:, which was not marketed correctly and as a result is still struggling to make a profit. That is not to say the new films will have this type of budget but, considering that the prequels were done in the $125 million range but were done largely in-house by Lucas without a studio involvement outside of distribution and marketing.
The important thing is that a good balance is met you do not want to do “Star Wars” on the cheap nor do you want to just throw money at the screen expecting the fans to come out because it is “Star Wars”. One thing is for certain, things are certainly looking very interesting for “Star Wars” fans, and as my wife said it best, “D23 is going to be even more interesting this year”.