Today is the second anniversary of the announcement of the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney. A lot has happened since then, so I thought it’d be worth reflecting on the major events over the last two years…
30th October, 2012: Disney announces its intent to buy Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion. On the same day, Star Wars: Episode VII is announced for a summer 2015 release
This was mind-blowing, to say the least. I thought it was a hoax when I first read it on Facebook because, really, who saw this coming? Then the reality of it set in, and suddenly things seemed very positive indeed.
25th January, 2013: J.J. Abrams announced as director on Episode VII, with Michael Arndt writing the screenplay
As we now know, Arndt was later replaced by Abrams and original trilogy alumnus Lawrence Kasdan. Note that Abrams was never announced for Episodes VIII and IX, and it is now an open secret that Rian Johnson will be the writer/director on Episode VIII while providing a treatment for Episode IX.
5th February, 2013: Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg announced as writers for two spinoff/standalone films
These are the rumoured Boba Fett and Han Solo films. However, with Kasdan moving to Episode VII screenwriting duties, it was necessary to bring in Gary Whitta to complete the script for the first standalone film. (That’s speculation on my part, but I think it holds up.)
11th March, 2013: Star Wars: The Clone Wars is cancelled with Star Wars: Detours postponed indefinitely; a new animated series is hinted at
Despite the cancelation of The Clone Wars, we’ve since gotten a comic for one unproduced story arc, story reels for a second unproduced story arc and an upcoming novel for a third unproduced story arc, all as part of the Clone Wars Legacy project.
The less said about Detours the better.
20th May, 2013: Star Wars: Rebels announced
One thing that has become increasingly apparent over the last two years is that Star Wars: A New Hope is now regarded by Lucasfilm as the primary point of reference when it comes to new Star Wars projects: everything being produced, bar Episode VII and the Clone Wars Legacy material, is set between Episodes III and V, making Episode IV “ground zero”. (I’m only guessing about where the spinoffs fall, however.)
This is a massive rebranding attempt, and Rebels is clearly part of this strategy to remind people of just how fun Star Wars was, back when it was only one movie.
7th November, 2013: Release date for Episode VII set to 18th December, 2015
Despite a prior announcement of “summer”, the schedule was pushed back to accommodate rewrites by Abrams and Kasdan
3rd January, 2014: Announcement made that the Star Wars comic license would move from Dark Horse to Marvel in 2015
Since then, three ongoing comics (Star Wars, Darth Vader and Kanan) and one comic mini-series (Princess Leia) have been announced. Star Wars, Darth Vader and Princess Leia are all set immediately after Star Wars: A New Hope, with Kanan following the events of Order 66 in Revenge of the Sith. Again, Star Wars: A New Hope becomes an attractor pulling all stories towards it.
25th April, 2014: New canon policy announced for tie-in material
With the planned production of new films at the rate of one per year, it was inevitable that the “expanded universe” would be rebooted. As a bonus, the “levels of canon” model was scrapped, with everything being canon going forward.
29th April, 2014: Episode VII main cast announced
This included the official announcement of the return of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, as well as appearances by Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Peter Mayhew. With Kasdan on board and John Williams scoring this film, it really does feel like an “old school” reunion.
16th May, 2014: Episode VII starts production
And then Harrison Ford went and broke his leg.
22nd May, 2014: Gareth Edwards to direct untitled spinoff/standalone film written by Gary Whitta
With Episode VII now close to wrapping, Lucasfilm is gearing up for production to begin on this first standalone film sometime next year. Presumably this is the rumoured Boba Fett film, possibly a noir-ish space western based on concepts from Star Wars: Underworld (which would have fit Kasdan like a glove, had he not moved onto Episode VII).
4th June, 2014: Josh Trank announced as director on untitled spinoff/standalone film
Trank is directing the Fantastic Four reboot co-written by Kinberg; expect this same pairing to be present on this standalone film, most likely about Han Solo and again using concepts from Underworld.
2nd September, 2014: Star Wars: A New Dawn released
If you want to see the fruits of the new canon policy, look no further. This book, based on a backstory provided by the Rebels creators, has already been hinted at in Rebels episodes; the backstory will be further revealed in the Kanan comic, the first arc being written by Rebels season 1 executive producer Greg Weisman.
26th September, 2014: Rebels premiers online with a double episode written by Kinberg
So far we’ve seen six episodes (if you count the premier as two episodes) and overall I’d score it a 7/10, which is really pretty amazing for the first season of an animated children’s show. (Note that it has a softer rating than The Clone Wars, which was designed for a more general audience.) The upshot of all of this is that classic Star Wars—Rebels versus the Empire—is being introduced to a whole new generation.
This is an amazing time to be a Star Wars fan: not since the late ’70s has the franchise felt so open to fresh possibilities, with a real forward momentum behind it. As the old Kenner advert said, Star Wars is forever.
And Star Wars will be with us… always.