Star Wars is returning to the big screen this December, and for the first time in the franchise's history, George Lucas is not directly involved with the making of a movie set in a galaxy far, far away. It's true that Lucas is credited as a "creative consultant" for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, but he's very much enjoying his retirement and letting other filmmakers play in the sandbox he created almost 40 years ago.
What's interesting about the new batch of Star Wars directors, like Abrams, Rian Johnson, and Colin Trevorrow, is that Star Wars was one of the movies that inspired them to become directors. They're fans of the series getting to live out their ultimate dream of calling the shots on an official project set in the franchise canon. That obviously has to be a surreal experience, and it was a challenge that Abrams dealt with while making Episode VII.
In an interview with ABC News, Abrams explained how he and his crew were able to suppress their personal emotional connection to the property and go about their job as professionals making a feature film:
"That was a constant in the production of the movie: moments where we would all look around and realize what we were doing and gasp a little bit and then dive back in. When you’re on the set of the Millennium Falcon or staring into the eyes of C-3PO giving direction, it’s pretty easy to have that fanatic part of you bubble up. But our job was to be there to tell this story, not to be a fanboy."
Just based on the glimpses of the final product we've gotten in the two teaser trailers, it's easy to see how the feeling of awe and wonder underscored the whole production process. But it's also good to hear that the team remained focused on the task at hand. With fans working behind-the-camera, the whole movie could have turned into a massive geek out where the principal players were blinded by their love for Star Wars, but from Abrams on down, everyone involved has taken The Force Awakens very seriously, understanding the magnitude of what this movie means.
In a way, it's probably for the best that the latest Star Wars film is being helmed by someone who is a massive fan, since Abrams knows what works well for the space opera. As he, Simon Pegg, and others brought their strong feelings for the saga (the classic trilogy in particular) to create a new story, they seem to be tirelessly working on recapturing the magic of the first three films to give a new generation something they'll never forget. Their passion and enthusiasm has been guiding The Force Awakens since its inception, and they want to ensure that these new films can live up to the looming legacy of what's come before.
Just over three months out from its release (at the time of writing this), Abrams and company seem to be on the right track to bring Star Wars back to its glory days. The marketing campaign has as close to a universal approval rating you can get in this day and age, and with the impending release of all the tie-in merchandise, excitement is only going to increase tenfold. Between learning about the Knights of Ren, celebrating Han and Chewie's return home, and finding out who Luke Skywalker is, there's a lot to look forward to.
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: ABC News