It's been 38 years since the first Star Wars film graced our movie screens, and in that time the popularity of the franchise has reached astronomical levels with countless books, graphic novels, video games and television series. The success even pushed creator George Lucas to return after almost two decades away to release a new prequel trilogy, extending his vision beyond the original three films.
But now times are changing and the first Star Wars film without Lucas' influence is set to release in theaters this December. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been shrouded in secrecy since its announcement, as fans have speculated and tried in vain to uncover the plot. Lucas recently went on record to say that he hasn't seen anything beyond the teaser, and so a new era really has begun.
In fact, returning star Mark Hamill says he's surprised by just how much has changed since Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Speaking at a screening for Kingsman: The Secret Service, the man who will always be Luke Skywalker told fans:
"The most interesting aspect from my point of view is that ['Star Wars'] is now in the hands of the generation who were fans. It’s the next generation of filmmakers who were sort of weened on these pictures."
Hamill makes an interesting point because Star Wars Episode VII director J.J. Abrams has stated he was initially reluctant to take on the project for that exact reason, preferring to be a fan “rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them.” He of course later accepted, but only after weeks of discussions with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. This December we'll at last get to see just how a fan of the series compares with the creator himself.
But who's directing is not the only change Hamill witnessed while on set for Star Wars Episode VII. As the franchise's popularity has increased, so has the technology used to try and get a glimpse behind-the-scenes. Hamill also revealed:
“It’s a whole different era now. When we made the original films, you had the odd reporter hanging around the studio bribing people to give them stories. Now, I said to them, ‘Do I really have to wear this robe and this hood that covers my entire head to go from the trailer to the soundstage?’ They said, ‘Yeah, there’s drones.’ Seriously! There’s drones flying over the studio trying to get pictures of whatever they can get pictures of.”
We know all too well the lengths people will go to just to get the next Star Wars scoop. It seems like every week there's a new rumor or leaked information about costumes, concept art or characters. And when the movie was still filming, photos from these drones revealed not only settings but also spaceships and cast members. With many more Star Wars films to go, we probably haven't seen the last of the media circus.
What do you think about the franchise now being in the hands of the fans? Will they do as good of a job as Lucas? Let us know in the comments.
Star Wars: Episode VII releases in theaters on December 18, 2015.