Ever since George Lucas sold the Lucasfilm empire to The Walt Disney Co. for $4.05 billion last fall, there has been rampant speculation on the future of the Star Wars franchise.
Since we here at PassMeThePopcorn.com are fans of the Star Wars franchise, (well…acutallly…who isn’t, right?) We thought today would be a good day to take a look at all the recent developments regarding the beloved Star Wars Universe.
The most concrete news so far from new Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy was that a new trilogy of films, taking place sometime after the events of Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi was being developed. The first film in the new trilogy was being targeted for a hopeful, (yet unrealistic), 2015 release date.
As far as who would be directing those films, rumors were rampant with everyone from Steven Spielberg to Ben Affleck being attached as potential directors. Then the website THE WRAP broke the news that none other than J.J. Abrams would be directing Episode 7. Additionally it was announced that the screenplay was being penned by Michael Arndt (Safety Not Guaranteed), while Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back) and Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes) would work as artistic consultants.
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If all that wasn’t enough, in addition to the new trilogy, news began to trickle out that stand-alone films, which take place within the Star Wars universe was also being developed. An early rumor, which was quickly shot down, claimed that director Zack Snyder was developing a Star Wars film inspired by the classic Akira Kurosawa film The Seven Samurai. At the time the idea didn’t seem too far-fetched, considering Star Wars Episode IV was loosely based on Kurosawa’s film The Hidden Fortress.
Then more concrete news seemed to break out, when Harry Knowles reported at Aint-It-Cool-News that the first stand-alone Star Wars film was to focus on the character of Yoda. As far as what that story would entail it was still too early in the process to even speculate.
The idea of a Yoda standalone film makes sense considering that he is a character, which spans the entire six previous movies and he also has a substantial untouched back story, that can easily be explored without stepping on the toes of any of the potential future films. Plus Yoda is a computer generated character, so there is no pressure for an actor to step into the iconic role. At the very least, it was all an interesting idea. Anyone curious what a young Yoda would be like?
Meanwhile, around the same time Entertainment Weekly also reported that two other stand-alone films were also being developed, one about the bounty hunter Boba Fett and the other about Han Solo. Most likely the Han Solo film would be about his youth before he appeared in the famous Cantina on Mos Eisley. The Boba Fett film would be a bounty hunter / Japanese “ronin” inspired movie. (Again inspired by Akira Kurosawa.)
This morning, however, comes news from Deadline Hollywood that just the idea of stand-alone films, outside the Star Wars saga, was still only in the concept stages and nowhere near any real production development. Which sort of splashes cold water on the whole Star Wars stand alone film proceedings.
But the real question is do audiences really want stand-alone Star Wars films? Yes, they would most likely be sure-fire hits and make plenty of money. But as fun as it is to play within the Star Wars universe, some of the allure to characters like Han Solo, Boba Fett and Yoda is their mysterious back story. Do we really want to see Lando Calrissian lose the Millenium Falcon to Han Solo? Or Boba Fett in the middle of a Yojimbo inspired turf war? Or Yoda as a Padawan learning the ways of the force… from someone else?
Hopefully, the new development team at Lucas Film don’t become too preoccupied with the idea of making stand alone films, that that they don’t stop to think if they should. (Yes, I just threw in a Jurassic Park reference.)
As far as, J.J. Abrams taking over the helm of the new trilogy… I’m all for it.
It’s a safe pick considering that J.J. Abrams will be extremely careful not to step on any of the previous team’s toes and will likely (good or bad) keep the same tone and look of the previous films. Critics are focusing on his work with the Star Trek reboot as a marker for where he will likely take the new stories. Star Wars lens flare jokes already running wild across the internet. But the reality is, I think J.J. Abrams will not make as much of a dramatic tonal shift away from the original Star Wars films, like he did with Star Trek. It will not be a so-called reboot. Or some strange Star Wars version of his television show LOST. One need only look at his Spielberg tribute film Super 8 to realize the guy knows how to carry the torch when it’s handed to him. He proved in Super 8 he can spiritually, mimic the tone of Spielberg. I think he’ll do the same with George Lucas, all while adding his own unique touches and flair to the Star Wars universe.
In any event, it’s going to be really interesting going forward for the Star Wars Universe. Expect more news and rampant speculation in the coming months, even years. (Oh yay!…ummm…not really.)
So what do readers, think about all this news? Do you like the idea of stand-alone Star Wars films? What about J.J. Abrams directing the new trilogy? Do you dig a young Yoda movie? Han Solo begins? A Kurosawa inspired Boba Fett film?