Let's try to focus in on what we know for a fact about the upcoming Star Wars movies. We'll start with the outer-ring of information, then step-by-step get to the most certain of details, sorting this fact from fiction.
We will begin with people not in the inner circle. The people next door, as it were.
The Wrap have spoken to Dale Pollock, author of an unauthorized George Lucas biography. He has apparently read outlines for twelve Star Wars movies but was obliged to sign an NDA.
Still, he's doing a little bit of disclosing. He 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.
And that's what he would of said on the eve of Phantom Menace being released, honest.
He's not the only one to have seen these outlines, or outlines like them. JW Rinzler works as "an executive editor" at Lucasfilm and published his own blogpost that comments on the multi-movie arcs that Lucas has planned. Not to say, mind, that these plans still stand.
Here's a quote on the big arc from Mark Hamill that Rinzler dates to 2004:
You know, when I first did this, it was four trilogies. Twelve movies! Out on the desert, any time between setups… lots of free time. And George was talking about this whole thing… 'Um, how'd you like to be in Episode IX?' 'When is that going to be?' '2011.'
I said, 'Well, what do you want me to do?' He said, 'You'll just be like a cameo. You'll be like Obi-Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope.'
This clashes with Pollock's belief that the new films would feature Luke Skywalker "in his 30s or 40s." Lucas' plans obviously keep shifting – something I think is actually obvious enough just from watching the original trilogy.
Rinzler shared this template that dates back to the beginning:
… the original trilogy occupied Episodes VI, VII, and VIII; a Clone Wars trilogy took up Episodes II, III, and IV, while Episode I was a "prelude," Episodes IX through XI were simply left blank – and Episode XII was the "conclusion."
But things had changed by 1979. Here's what Lucas said on the set of The Empire Strikes Back:
The first script was one of six original stories I had written in the form of two trilogies. After the success of Star Wars, I added another trilogy. So now there are nine stories. The original two trilogies were conceived of as six films of which the first film was number four.
And that was the sanctioned gospel in recent years too.
Interestingly, Lucas first talked about handing the reigns over to another filmmaker while making Return of the Jedi:
I'm only doing this because I started it and now I have to finish it. The next trilogy will be all someone else's vision.
It's arguably a real disappoint that plan didn't work out. Will Lucas be good to his promise to walk away this time? Well, they're not his toys any more. He's sold them to Disney. Perhaps he won't be able to change his mind so easily.
The current plans for the next film are officially secret right now, but E! Online have spoken to an unnamed body at Lucasfilm who tells them, of Episode Seven:
It's an original story.
Meaning: not adapted from a Timothy Zahn book or videogame plot or an episode of Droids or bit of fanfic from a scary online forum.
Who is this secret source? It doesn't really matter, it was pretty clear for anybody listening closely to the conference calls and video press releases with Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy and Bob Iger yesterday that the new films will be new stories. What wasn't clear was how detailed Lucas' treatments for these new stories actually are.
The treatments do seem to exist as Iger said Disney had purchased them, but they also seem sketchy as Kennedy said they were still hearing ideas from writers.
But there seems to be one solid fact about episodes seven, eight and nine. One narrative component that marks out the basic strategy; they're going to pay off the story of episodes one through six, but then actually close the book on that saga for once and for all.
In the video below, Lucas says:
Once Kathy came onbaord we started working with writers, we started working on the whole processes of doing the films. We've got a plan for seven, eight and nine which is the end of the trilogy and other films also. We've a large group of ideas, and characters and books and all kinds of things. We could go on making Star Wars for the next hundred years.
You can skip to for the exact quote at 4 minutes and 56 seconds in.
So, the facts:
- They have been working with writers already.
- Seven eight and nine are going to close out the saga – he says 'trilogy' but we know what he means.
- Other films will come but not be part of that saga.
- Amongst the source material they'll be drawing on, somewhere in the mix, are books. Presumably the existing, published books by Timothy Zahn and so on.
Straight from the horse's mouth.
Just as a footnote, it's worth noting that the official Star Wars channel has released this "special video presentation" alongside their Disney deal videos. Are they giving us a hint? I think so, I really do.