Months before Tuesday’s announcement that Disney will acquire Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, George Lucas and his co-chair Kathleen Kennedy began meeting with well-known screenwriters to pitch ideas for Star Wars Episode 7, the Los Angeles Times reports. Talks with Disney had been under way for about a year and a half.
According to the newspaper’s anonymous source, those ideas were for an original story, and not for an adaptation of any existing Star Wars novels. That assertion supports Wednesday’s report dismissing the possibility that the new live-action movies would be based on Timothy Zahn’s bestselling Thrawn Trilogy (aka Heirs to the Empire). Those books, published from 1991 to 1993, are set five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, and feature most of the central characters of the original movie trilogy while introducing the popular Mara Jade.
Mark Hamill also revealed to Entertainment Weekly that he and Carrie Fisher met Lucas for lunch in August, where they were surprised to learn of his plans for a new trilogy.
“I thought he was going to talk about either his retirement or the Star Wars TV series that I’ve heard about — which I don’t think we were going to be involved in anyway, because that takes place between the prequels and the ones we were in and, if Luke were in them, he’d be anywhere from a toddler to a teenager so they’d get an age-appropriate actor — or the 3-D releases,” Hamill said. “So when he said, “We decided we’re going to do Episodes VII, VIII, and IX,” I was just gobsmacked. “What? Are you nuts?!” [Laughs] I can see both sides of it. Because in a way, there was a beginning, a middle, and an end and we all lived happily ever after and that’s the way it should be — and it’s great that people have fond memories, if they do have fond memories. But on the other hand, there’s this ravenous desire on the part of the true believers to have more and more and more material. It’s one of those things: people either just don’t care for it or are passionate about it. I guess that defines what cult movies are all about. We’ll see.”
Under the terms of the Disney deal, Kennedy will become president of Lucasfilm, serving as brand manager of the Star Wars franchise and executive producer of the new films, which begin in 2015. Subsequent installments will be released every two to three years after that. Lucas, who announced his retirement in June, will act as creative consultant.
Although the 68-year-old filmmaker said Tuesday that “I’m investing in Disney, that’s my retirement fund,” a Lucasfilm spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter that Lucas will put most of the money from the sale in a foundation that focuses primarily on educational issues.