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5 Amazing Things We Know About 'Star Wars: Episode VII' (And 5 Things We Don't)

In case you haven't heard, Disney bought LucasFilm yesterday for four billion dollars. But the biggest news was Disney's simultaneous announcement that they'll produce a new Star Wars movie, the long-awaited Star Wars: Episode VII to continue the series. While this is obviously in the early stages, speculation has been running wild as to what this could mean for Star Wars and fans. Here are five things we know for sure about the new movie, and five things we don't.

1. The Release Date - I guess Disney wanted everyone to know they were serious, because right off the bat, they announced the year Episode VII will be released: 2015. It seems like a long time, but in movie terms, that's an incredibly short amount of time for a movie turnaround from script to post-production. For comparison, Avengers 2 is also scheduled to release in 2015.

2. George Lucas Will Be Involved - Lucas famously and rather petulantly announced that he would retire and no longer produce any more Star Wars movies. Yet it was confirmed that Lucas will be involved in the new trilogy in a consulting role. He's reportedly been working on story treatments for a new trilogy, and turned those notes over to his co-chairman, Kathleen Kennedy. However, he apparently will not write, direct, or produce any of the movies. Personally, I'm very grateful for that.

3. Episode VII Will Not Be Alone - Disney isn't stopping at one movie. They've already said their plans to make a new trilogy, releasing the next SW movie every two or three years until they finish with 7, 8, and 9. They even say they might take a tip from The Avengers, and spin off some characters into their own series. Yes, we could be facing a geyser of Star Wars movies.

4. The Saga Will Continue - There has been some debate about whether the next movie would remake or go in a new direction from the original trilogies. Disney did confirm that the new trilogy will not be a reboot or a new direction. It will continue the original story, starting after Return of the Jedi.

5. Episode VII Will Be An Original Story - For years, speculation has been that Episode VII would be based on Timothy Zahn's classic follow up novel to the Return of the Jedi, Heir to the Empire. Some fans have even accepted Heir to the Empire as the canonical sequel that couldn't be replaced. Force.net confirmed this would not happen. Episode VII will be a new movie written based on Lucas' notes and the work of several unknown writers.

Frankly, there are more things we don't know about the movie than we know, but here are five of the biggest things we don't know...

1. Who Will Return? - Even before the movie was announced, many have speculated on the future of Star Wars. The problem with a new trilogy has always been the characters. We all want to see what happens to Luke, Leia, and Han.  But after all these years, the original actors aren't what used to be. Would they re-cast the roles with younger actors? Hamill confirmed that Lucas has had conversations with him and Carrie Fisher about the new movie, leading to the rumor that they will play a role in the new trilogy. Will they hire the elderly Mark Hamill to play Skywalker as a wise mentor? Or will they cast a younger actor to play Skywalker as a more dynamic hero? What about Han Solo? Harrison Ford has made no secret that he hated his role as Han Solo. Would he ever return? Leia? Frankly, Carrie Fisher hasn't held up too well. I think it's most likely that the original actors will have cameos, and will be mentioned, but that the trilogy will focus on a new, younger set of characters.

2. Who Will Write and Direct? - Names have already been floated, ranging from Steven Spielberg to J.J. Abrams. Frankly, I think the list is wide open. Lots of directors would give their right arm to tackle Star Wars. But apparently at least three anonymous writers are talking with LucasArts right now.

3.Will Lucas' Movie Treatment Suck? - It's long been the feeling among Star Wars fans that the less Lucas is involved, the better. The movie that had the least involvement from Lucas was Empire Strikes Back, widely considered the best in the series. The movie that had the most involvement recently from Lucas was The Phantom Menace, 'nuff said. Here's hoping they only follow his guidelines, but veer from it as needed, like Kirschner did with Empire Strikes Back.

4. How Much Will Be Based on the Expanded Universe? - The tricky thing about the new Star Wars movies is that, in the minds of some fans, they kind of already exist. Starting with Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire novel, a huge series of novels, comic books, and videogames have created a rich story chronicling the birth of the New Republic, the marriage and children of Leia and Han Solo, a new Jedi order led by an aging Luke Skywalker, and a new menace of villains born from the ashes of the Galactic Empire. Die-hard SW fans have come to love and embrace the Expanded Universe as canon, so how much will Disney try to maintain it? Will the new trilogy go out of its way to contradict the EU, sending the entire franchise go up in smoke to start over? Or will they take the best storylines and concepts from the EU and bring them to life in the movies?

5. Will the new trilogy be good? Right now, the Star Wars community is a little gunshy about the new trilogy. Will it be a new movie that brings back the glory of what we all remember Star Wars to be or better? Or will it be a cheesy derivative piece of junk solely designed to sell toys? Only time will tell. My take is Disney certainly couldn't do worse. Star Wars was already ruined for me when I saw Phantom Menace. Afraid Disney will put annoying and cute characters, cheesy dialogue, and bogus science into Star Wars? Too late.

UPDATE:  Added links, deleted others

What do you think about Episode VII? Are you optimistic or pessimistic? Do you have anything to add to this list?

[Image Source: starwars.com]

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  1. Given what happened last time, I'm pessimistic.

  2. Going for an original story is the right thing to do and not a reboot. But with what happened with the prequels I'm not as excited as I used to be.

  3. First, thank God Lucas will not write or direct.
    Second, it's a shame they aren't basing it off any of the books, especially Zahn's. Those were some of the best stories and in Zahn's hand, the most well written,
    Studios keep franchises going for two reasons - either fans are clamoring for more or they are just milking the series for all it's worth. I think Disney erroneously thinks it's doing it for the first reason.
    Of course, they can't make a worse trilogy than the last one...

  4. i decided to keep quiet... mom said nothing nice, shhh!

  5. I'd be glad if they took minimal direction from the books, which uniformly seem to have missed the point of the movies, that it centers on big events centering on specific individuals, not a lot of mishmash. Zahn's books came close (mostly because they pretty much got there first), but even he thought a random Imperial survivor and a lost Jedi-turned-quasi-Sith were good enough...They weren't. If you don't have characters as strong as Palpatine and Darth Vader guiding the story, then you really don't have anything.

  6. Disney sees Star Wars as a cash cow Alex. They'll milk it dry for better or for worse. Zahn is often mentioned as the best of the books.

    Subject: [geektwins] Re: 5 Amazing Things We Know About 'Star Wars: Episode VII' (And 5 Things We Don't) ~ The Geek Twins

  7. I was hoping they would leave the "New Hope" storyline along, that's disappointing.

  8. I am a Disney lover- I think they will do well...ok I hope they will do well....last thing they want is all the Star Wars fans picketing Star Wars Weekends


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