It was almost a year ago when George Lucas pulled the rug out from beneath everyone's feet and sold Lucasfilm to the Walt Disney company, so that the Mouse House could usher in a new era of Star Wars movies, beginning with Episode VII. Shortly after most everyone had accepted that this wasn't some elaborate hoax, the obvious question(s) were: Who is going to write, direct and star in these films, set in a galaxy far, far away (which take place around 30 years after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)?
Casting for Episode VII and beyond, as you're undoubtedly aware, is currently ongoing; though, we do, for certain, know the identity of at least one contender. Moreover, it's now common knowledge that Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (whose scriptwriting resume includes Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3 and Oblivion) is responsible for the Episode VII script, while Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams is jumping ship - literally! - to take the helm on the seventh Star Wars movie.
As for Lucas, he's serving as a "creative consultant" - i.e. using his knowledge to answer all/any Star Wars-related questions that Abrams might have during pre-production - on Episode VII and the planned spinoff films that will release during the years between the Episode installments (possibly, beginning with a Han Solo origin film). However, according to his 20-year old son, Jett Lucas, the creator of Star Wars spent more time planning, designing and structuring the third movie trilogy (and more?) than you might've thought.
Jett Lucas informed Flicks and the City (via Mashable) that his father was "ready to let [Star Wars] go and let it grow," but that he spent a year mapping out the franchise's future before doing so:
"He was very torn on the matter," Jett Lucas told YouTube channel Flicks and the City in an interview posted Sunday, revealing that his dad had started researching and writing the new Star Wars movies about a year before the Disney sale — and told him casually over a dinnertime phone call. "He's happiest when he's writing and doing something with his time." What the senior Lucas has done is set out "guidelines" for the new movie, Jett said.
Now, although this news (i.e. that Lucas spent a good deal of time putting together stories/ideas for Episode VII-IX) might cause a disturbance in the force for legions of Star Wars fans - who argue that Episodes I-III are proof enough that Lucas is no longer a passionate and capable storyteller - it's arguably not discouraging news at all. In fact, one of the reasons that the prequel Star Wars trilogy has long provoked such impassioned negative reactions (in my opinion) is that the bare-bones plot outline for those films is... actually, surprisingly quite solid.
The problem lies with the execution, since it seemed as though Lucas neglected to properly develop the Episodes I-III scripts (which needed much fine-tuning), so as to pioneer new digital and computer-assisted filmmaking tools instead - resulting in a film trilogy that is glistening and bright on the surface, yet emotionally-hollow and a thematic mess on the inside. However, even though the next wave of Star Wars movies originated with Lucas (maybe even longer ago than we know for certain), his vision will be realized by the more capable hands of longtime Star Wars fans like Arndt and Abrams.
Indeed, Jett Lucas made it clear to Flicks and the City that his father isn't at all the driver on Episode VII. Rather, he's more like the concerned parent who is sitting in the back, so that he can an eye on things - without being able to grab and take control of the steering wheel himself. To quote:
Asked if Lucas was keeping a watchful eye over what happens next with Star Wars, he replied: "Yeah, as any parent watching their kid going to college would. He's constantly talking to J.J. [Abrams, director of Episode VII]. Obviously J.J. was handpicked. He [Lucas] is there to guide, whenever, he'll help where he can. At the same time, he wants to let it go and become its new generation."
(Note: As many reading this are probably well-aware, Abrams is also getting a helping hand from another seasoned veteran in screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back), who is advising on Episode VII and penning one of the spinoff films - much like Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past).)
Lucas' grown-up son also revealed that his father has already told him about the story plan for Episodes VII-IX - something that even the actors who've auditioned for the film are in the dark about. He played coy, but in the process seemed to drop a few hints - most of which confirm what most fans have already speculated (i.e. that the films will largely focus on a whole new set of characters).
"I'm happy with what's going to happen... I would like to see [Episodes VII-IX] following a new generation. I'm not saying that's what happens, I'm saying that's what I would like... because to me these movies are about the next generation as the prequels are about a new generation and the originals were for that generation... I think following a new generation and a new group of heroes and villains will - [pause] I think that's the right move to make."
Of course, it was George Lucas himself who let it slip that the original Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) will return to portray older version of the characters in Episode VII (or, rather, that the trio is in "final negotiations" to reprise their roles) - and we've since heard multiple reports that confirm that Hamill and Fisher are, in fact, getting back into Jedi/hero shape for the film. As such, there looks to be some passing of the torch on both sides of the camera with the latest installment in Lucas' imaginative space opera/legend.
You can watch the full interview with Jett Lucas (where he comments on some of the Episode VII rumors) below:
Star Wars: Episode VII is tentatively slated to reach theaters by Summer 2015, though it could wind up delayed until the Winter Holiday Season.