When Disney proudly announced in October that they had acquired the entertainment juggernaut known as Lucasfilm, they didn't do so just to continue the Star Wars saga with another trilogy of films, adding the brand to their lines of merchandise, theme parks and video games. They acquired it with every intention of reclaiming the sci-fi throne and once again making Star Wars a beloved worldwide pop culture phenomenon.
Releasing Star Wars Episode VII in 2015 (or 2016 if director J.J. Abrams has his way) is just the first step in a film franchise that's in the planning stage of being something far more expansive than another pair of trilogies. Disney has learned from the successful Marvel Studios strategy of an interconnected universe spanning multiple films per year and that's in the cards for their upcoming stories based a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Ain't It Cool News' Harry Knowles has the scoop that the very first standalone Star Wars film will be headlined by Yoda. There are no details on when it would take place in the saga's timeline or what it could be about, only the basics that Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy is developing the first non-episodic Star Wars feature and that it may be about the little green Jedi Master. Knowles also claims that George Lucas was tossing around the idea of a movie about Jabba, but that little statement throws the initial rumor deeper into questionable territory.
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Firstly, Lucas has a small role in the Star Wars franchise going forward and isn't the decision maker behind future films. A movie about the Hutt family and bounty hunters, namely Boba Fett, is something fans can get behind - and something director Joe Johnston told us in 2011 was something he was interested in developing. But a movie about Jabba? No. Yoda at least has some brand appeal as one of the recognizable figureheads of the Star Wars franchise.
While the idea of a movie focused on the oldest of the Jedi Order may seem odd considering the mixed response to Yoda's CG action sequences in the prequel trilogy, some sort of spinoff or origin story does have at least one appealing aspect in how it can include characters who are otherwise no longer living. Samuel L. Jackson would love to play Mace Windu again so a standalone feature based earlier in the canonical timeline is the only way that can occur since it wouldn't make sense for his Jedi spirit form to show up in Star Wars episodes 7-9.
What if that rumored Zack Snyder Seven Samurai-style Star Wars isn't actually based after Return of the Jedi and includes a younger Yoda, perhaps in an epic adventure of him leading a team of Jedi to defend a planet and earning his rank as eventual Grand Master? And what if that project is one of the spinoffs Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are reportedly writing? Could all of these be one and the same or are Disney and Lucasfilm actually developing multiple standalone features along with Star Wars episodes 7-9 this very moment?
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Of all the 100+ stories in the Star Wars extended universe, longtime fans still voice interest in properties such as the Knights of The Old Republic and Shadows of the Empire, not to mention the Dark Forces: Jedi Knight. And those are just some of the video games that could serve as standalone Star Wars tales! A Yoda film would at least explore the origins and history of the character, something that was never touched on in the series.
Star Wars Episode 7 will hit theaters in 2015.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for you Star Wars movie, TV and video game news.