To many, the news of Episode VII came as a surprise. The Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm element of the news was a shocker for certain but after we’d all had time to let the dust settle, we began to realise this wasn’t the biggest surprise in the world. In fact, the sequel trilogy has been with us – at least in spirit – since the very beginning.
The recent Bloomberg article detailing the the current road to the new Star Wars films already informs us of a much longer history in regards to Episode VII’s planning but it goes back much further than that. Star Wars kids of the 80s will remember all the talk of “there’s actually nine episodes” in playgrounds. Pre- internet, this message of more Star Wars still managed to reach even the youngest of Star Wars fans and even as late as 1999 when the prequels arrived, there was talk of these infamous sequels, despite the fact Lucas said he wouldn’t make any more Star Wars after Episode III wrapped up.
Of course as soon as the sequels were announced via the new Disney / Lucasfilm press release, Lucas made sure to inform us that he wasn’t lying to us for all this time because “He” indeed would not be making more Star Wars films at all. Once again what Lucas told us was true “from a certain point of view” but even with the future intentions for Star Wars now laid out , what do we know of Episodes VII to IX? Lucas has changed his story, feelings and approach to the on again / off again sequels for nearly four decades it seems.
The prospect of a sequel trilogy is not a new thing and in this article we’ll take glimpses at just how long it’s been in the planning, even if its path to creation has been a rocky one. Behold, the 8 stages of early development for Episodes VII – IX…
8. The Beginning…
Long story short, around 1975 George Lucas first realised the Star Wars story he was writing was bigger than a single movie. The concept of splitting the story into three distinct trilogies covering three generations of the Skywalker family was toyed with. Of course when the original Star Wars was a global hit of unforeseen magnitude the studio wanted more stories. Lucas pulled his first master trick that got us thinking about the future and indeed the past of Star Wars an renamed the first instalment of his hit movie Episode IV A New Hope.
Episode IV? That means this is the fourth episode! Where’s Episodes I-III? And how many Episodes are there? This was a genius move in the history of movie franchises really and one that’s never been replicated, despite the huge appeal for prequels since Star Wars pulled its first comeback in 1999. Of course the concept of ‘episodes’ spawned from Lucas’s love of the Flash Gordon serials and the notion that fans do not always come into the things they love from the beginning. The intrigue about what happened pre-Episode IV was a hot topic for a further twenty odd years and enough to generate conversation, speculation and even fan fiction when it came to the nature of what came before.
Of course, Episodes IV to VI tell us what came before in general terms and now the prequel Episodes I-III have filled in the rest of the blanks but when it comes to VII to IX, we are again in a world of speculation… or are we?
This article was first posted on March 13, 2013