Last month, J.J. Abrams announced that he and Lawrence Kasdan, the screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back, had finished the script for Star Wars Episode VII. This comes after the 2012 megadeal in which Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion and gained the rights to all Star Wars characters and stories. The film, which is the first of the final trilogy (Episodes VII, VIII, and IX), is slotted for a December 2015 release. Disney also has been vocal about its post-trilogy plans, announcing that it plans to make stand alone Star Wars films based on other Star Wars stories and characters created by Lucas.
Not surprisingly, much speculation has surrounded the film, ranging from the casting choices to the characters involved to the film’s title. Michael B. Jordan, the star of Fruitvale Station, and Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones and Wes Anderson’s upcoming The Grand Budapest Hotel) both have stated publicly that they auditioned for roles in the film. Most recently, it was rumored that Jesse Plemons—Breaking Bad’s Todd and Friday Night Light’s Landry—was attached to star. J.J. Abrams has confirmed that Plemons is in talks with the studio, but as of this writing, no major casting decisions have been made.
Despite this onslaught of speculation and rumor, most of the facts remain unknown. But, we do know the following. John Williams has said that he will return to score the film. According to Carrie Fisher, she will be in the film along with Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill.
We also know that, back in 1980 and 1982, Lucas claimed that Episode VII would take place roughly 20-40 years after the end of Return of the Jedi. The new trilogy likely will be based on outlines written by Lucas in the 1980s, which Disney now owns because of the acquisition. According to Dale Pollock, a Lucas biographer who has read the outlines, the story contains plenty of action, new worlds, and new characters.
As the project progresses, now undergoing “deep prep” according to Abrams, it’s difficult to minimize either the fan boy hype or the studio pressure that encircles the film. Most people, myself included, seemed elated when they first heard of the deal. It was a chance to reenter the Star Wars world and to reignite the imagination that such an entrance requires. Most people seemed deeply grateful to be given another chance to dive into the greatest Science Fiction story the screen has ever seen.
Yet, it would be a lie to say that the merger and its consequences—Disney’s promise to reboot the franchise and make stand alone Star Wars films after finishing the final trilogy—hasn’t made some fans skeptical. After the Episodes I-III disaster, perhaps forever preserved in the image of Jar Jar Binks, it’s not surprising that fans are nervous about Disney resurrecting the franchise. The fear, at least for some fans, is that each new Star Wars film that flops somehow detracts from the greatness of the originals.
Even after acknowledging such fears, it still appears that most people, myself included, are licking their chops in anticipation. There’s a sense that it will be different this time. There’s a feeling that J.J. Abrams is the new hope, a talented filmmaker whose whole career has been one long journey to bring this material to life. There’s a deep-seated wish that this trilogy will match the inventiveness of the original and that its success will unlock a whole new world, a world where future stand alone films will allow fans to dive into new stories like Han Solo’s past or Boba Fett’s origin.
However you feel about the new trilogy, it’s tough to deny the excitement that comes with the chance, once again, to travel to a galaxy far, far away.
UPDATE 4.28.14 – Find out more about the cast HERE.