There's nothing like the announcement of more Star Wars movies to get people excited, frustrated and generally talking. The last five days have seen a flood of information--from the official to the unofficial, from the predictable to the downright absurd. Among the many questions raised by both what's out there and what's not, a handful of questions keep popping up. We decided to take a quick look at them. Have Lucasfilm already put a team in place? From writers and directors to casting and sequels, rumors have had it that Lucasfilm and Disney already have a pretty good sense for what they want to do with these movies--and that they might have already put it in place long before the announcement was formal. So far, it's just that--rumors--as all anyone's said on the record is that they've been "talking to writers." That's Kathleen Kennedy from Lucasfilm, while Robert Iger of Disney acknowledges that part of the Lucasfilm acquisition involved purchasing "a treatment" for three more episodes from George Lucas. How Many Episodes? There have been a lot of reports on that, too--a lot of people have seen different drafts of Lucas's overall outline over the course of the last forty or so years, and while there are similarities to a lot of their stories, one of the main questions is how many episodes the outline actually embraces. The smart money seems to be on a total of nine episodes, including the six already filmed--that's what Mark Hamill said, and it's what Disney has suggested they got from Lucas. Apparently at one point, the draft included twelve episodes--and some people are suggesting it still does--but more credible sources seem to indicate that the 12-episode version was a different version than what we're going to end up with, one where the current prequel trilogy would have started with Episode II, and which was effectively dead by the time Lucas started filming A New Hope. What's the Story? Again, different people over the years have seen different versions of the Star Wars outline and so there have been a number of seemingly-credible sources to come forward in the last few days offering versions of the uber-arc of Episodes VII through IX that are either unrelated to one another, or contradict each other altogether. Interestingly, almost every version--From Mark Hamill's recollections in the '80s to incredibly detailed "leaks" from the last few days--suggest that Luke Skywalker will play a key role in the third trilogy.
And that's a thing--if it is Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, et. al., as is widely expected, how do you handle that? Do you bring back the original cast, which would probably generate a lot of goodwill among old fans but could backfire badly against all involved if the movies don't work? Re-cast the characters using young, hot actors...and/or the kind of unknowns that made them so relatable when Star Wars was released? And if you bring back the cast--which, let's face it, wouldn't be a problem for most of the characters--what does that mean for Han Solo? While almost everyone else has expressed an interest or willingness to come back and reprise their roles over the years, Harrison Ford has remained pretty steadfast in his insistence that he wouldn't do so--and the embarrassment of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is unlikely to change his mind in that regard. Can They Please the Fans? The least gossipy and most serious question facing the makers of Star Wars has to be whether they can actually do right by the longtime fans. The first trilogy will undoubtedly be a juggernaut, as it's the last thing that will have Lucas's official stamp on it as a writer and will be seen by many as must-watch. Once they go the Star Trek route, though, straying from the creator's vision and creating essentially a perpetual supply of movies, it seems like a harder sell for each subsequent chapter to make ungodly sums of money. To that end, it seems like not just a nice thing to do--but a business necessity to impress the hardcore fan base and win them back. Can it be done? It seems likely--not only do fans seem generally enthusiastic about the possibilities offered by the sequel trilogy, but if we look at Star Trek as an example, you see it can be done. After bad movies alienated fans away from the franchise, a return to form with Star Trek: The Next Generation revitalized the brand and made it arguably stronger than it ever was.