Star Wars is an American epic space opera franchise centered on a film series created by George Lucas. The franchise depicts a galaxy described as “far, far away” in the distant past, and portrays Jedi as a representation of good, in conflict with the Sith, their evil counterpart. Their weapon of choice, the lightsaber, is commonly recognized in popular culture. The franchise’s storylines contain many themes, with influences from philosophy and religion.
The first film in the series, Star Wars, was released on May 25, 1977 by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. It was followed by two sequels, released in 1980 and 1983. A prequel trilogy of films were later released between 1999 and 2005. Reaction to the original trilogy was largely positive, while the prequel trilogy received a more mixed reaction from critics and fans. All six films were nominated for or won Academy Awards, and all were box office successes; the overall box office revenue generated totals $4.38 billion, making Star Wars the fifth-highest-grossing film series. The series has spawned an extensive media franchise – the Expanded Universe – including books, television series, computer and video games, and comic books, resulting in significant development of the series’s fictional universe.
In 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion and announced three new Star Wars films, with the first film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, planned for release in 2015. 20th Century Fox retains the physical distribution rights to the first two Star Wars trilogies, owning permanent rights for the original film Episode IV: A New Hope and holding the rights to Episodes I–III, V and VI until May 2020. The Walt Disney Studios owns digital distribution rights to all the Star Wars films, excluding A New Hope. Star Wars also holds a Guinness World Records title for the “Most successful film merchandising franchise.” As of 2012, the total value of the Star Wars franchise was estimated at £19.51 billion ($30.7 billion), including box-office receipts as well as profits from their video games and DVD sales.
The events depicted in Star Wars media take place in a fictional galaxy. Many species of alien creatures (often humanoid) are depicted. Robotic droids are also commonplace and are generally built to serve their owners. Space travel is common, and many planets in the galaxy are members of a Galactic Republic, later reorganized as the Galactic Empire.
One of the prominent elements of Star Wars is the “Force“, an omnipresent energy that can be harnessed by those with that ability, known as Force-sensitives. It is described in the first produced film as “an energy field created by all living things [that] surrounds us, penetrates us, [and] binds the galaxy together.” The Force allows users to perform various supernatural feats (such as telekinesis, clairvoyance, precognition, and mind control) and can amplify certain physical traits, such as speed and reflexes; these abilities vary between characters and can be improved through training. While the Force can be used for good, it has a dark side that, when pursued, imbues users with hatred, aggression, and malevolence.
The six films feature the Jedi, who use the Force for good, and the Sith, who use the dark side for evil in an attempt to take over the galaxy. In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, many dark side users are Dark Jedi rather than Sith, mainly because of the “Rule of Two” (see Sith Origin).
The film series began with Star Wars, released on May 25, 1977. This was followed by two sequels: The Empire Strikes Back, released on May 21, 1980, and Return of the Jedi, released on May 25, 1983. The opening crawl of the sequels disclosed that they were numbered as “Episode V” and “Episode VI” respectively, though the films were generally advertised solely under their subtitles. Though the first film in the series was simply titled Star Wars, with its 1981 re-release it had the subtitle Episode IV: A New Hope added to remain consistent with its sequel, and to establish it as the middle chapter of a continuing saga.
In 1997, to correspond with the 20th anniversary of A New Hope, Lucas released a “Special Edition” of the Star Wars trilogy to theaters. The re-release featured alterations to the three films, primarily motivated by the improvement of CGI and other special effects technologies, which allowed visuals that were not possible to achieve at the time of the original filmmaking. Lucas continued to make changes to the films for subsequent releases, such as the first ever DVD release of the original trilogy on September 21, 2004 and the first ever Blu-ray release of all six films on September 16, 2011. Reception of the Special Edition was mixed, prompting petitions and fan edits to produce restored copies of the original trilogy.
More than two decades after the release of the original film, the series continued with a prequel trilogy; consisting of Episode I: The Phantom Menace, released on May 19, 1999; Episode II: Attack of the Clones, released on May 16, 2002; and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, released on May 19, 2005. On August 15, 2008, Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released theatrically as a lead-in to the animated TV series of the same name. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is scheduled for release on December 18, 2015.
The original trilogy begins with the Galactic Empire nearing completion of the Death Star space station, which will allow the Empire to crush the Rebel Alliance, an organized resistance formed to combat Emperor Palpatine‘s tyranny. Palpatine’s Sith apprentice Darth Vader captures Princess Leia, a member of the rebellion who has stolen the plans to the Death Star and hidden them in the astromech droid R2-D2. R2, along with his protocol droid counterpart C-3PO, escapes to the desert planet Tatooine. There, the droids are purchased by farm boy Luke Skywalker and his step-uncle and aunt. While Luke is cleaning R2, he accidentally triggers a message put into the droid by Leia, who asks for assistance from the legendary Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke later assists the droids in finding the exiled Jedi, who is now passing as an old hermit under the alias Ben Kenobi. When Luke asks about his father, whom he has never met, Obi-Wan tells him that Anakin Skywalker was a great Jedi who was betrayed and murdered by Vader. Obi-Wan and Luke hire the smuggler Han Solo and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca to take them to Alderaan, Leia’s home world, which they eventually find has been destroyed by the Death Star. Once on board the space station, Luke and Han rescue Leia while Obi-Wan allows himself to be killed during a lightsaber duel with Vader; his sacrifice allows the group to escape with the plans that help the Rebels destroy the Death Star. Luke himself (guided by the power of the Force) fires the shot that destroys the deadly space station during the Battle of Yavin.
Three years later, Luke travels to find the Jedi Master Yoda, now living in exile on the swamp-infested world of Dagobah, to begin his Jedi training. However, Luke’s training is interrupted when Vader lures him into a trap by capturing Han and his friends at Cloud City. During a fierce lightsaber duel, Vader reveals that he is Luke’s father and attempts to turn him to the dark side of the Force. Luke escapes and, after rescuing Han from the gangster Jabba the Hutt, returns to Yoda to complete his training; only to find the 900-year-old Jedi Master on his deathbed. Before he dies, Yoda confirms that Vader is Luke’s father. Moments later, the Force ghost of Obi-Wan tells Luke that he must confront his father once again before he can become a Jedi, and that Leia is his twin sister.
As the Rebels attack the second Death Star, Luke engages Vader in another lightsaber duel as the Emperor watches; both Sith Lords intend to turn Luke to the dark side and take him as their apprentice. During the duel, Luke succumbs to his anger and brutally overpowers Vader, but controls himself at the last minute; realizing that he is about to suffer his father’s fate, he spares Vader’s life and proudly declares his allegiance to the Jedi. An enraged Palpatine then attempts to kill Luke with Force lightning, a sight that moves Vader to turn and kill the Emperor, suffering mortal wounds in the process. Redeemed, Anakin Skywalker dies in his son’s arms. Luke becomes a full-fledged Jedi, and the Rebels destroy the second Death Star.
The prequel trilogy begins (32 years before the original film) with the corrupt Trade Federation setting up a blockade of battleships around the planet Naboo. The Sith Lord Darth Sidious had secretly planned the blockade to give his alter ego, Senator Palpatine, a pretense to overthrow and replace the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. At the Chancellor’s request, the Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, a younger Obi-Wan Kenobi, are sent to Naboo to negotiate with the Federation. However, the two Jedi are forced to instead help the Queen of Naboo, Padmé Amidala, escape from the blockade and plea her planet’s crisis before the Republic Senate on Coruscant. When their starship is damaged during the escape, they land on Tatooine for repairs, where Qui-Gon discovers a nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker. Qui-Gon comes to believe that Anakin is the “Chosen One” foretold by Jedi prophecy to bring balance to the Force, and he helps liberate the boy from slavery. The Jedi Council, led by Yoda, reluctantly allows Obi-Wan to train Anakin after Qui-Gon is killed by Palpatine’s first apprentice, Darth Maul, during the Battle of Naboo.
The remainder of the prequel trilogy chronicles Anakin’s gradual descent to the dark side as he fights in the Clone Wars, which Palpatine secretly engineers to destroy the Jedi Order and lure Anakin into his service. Anakin and Padmé fall in love and secretly wed, and eventually Padmé becomes pregnant. Anakin has a prophetic vision of Padmé dying in childbirth, and Palpatine convinces him that the dark side of the Force holds the power to save her life. Desperate, Anakin submits to Palpatine’s Sith teachings and is renamed Darth Vader.
While Palpatine re-organizes the Republic into the tyrannical Empire, Vader participates in the extermination of the Jedi Order, culminating in a lightsaber duel between himself and Obi-Wan on the volcanic planet Mustafar. Obi-Wan defeats his former apprentice and friend, severing his limbs and leaving him to burn to death on the shores of a lava flow. Palpatine arrives shortly afterward and saves Vader by placing him into a mechanical black mask and suit of armor that serves as a permanent life support system. At the same time, Padmé dies while giving birth to twins Luke and Leia. Obi-Wan and Yoda, now the only remaining Jedi alive, agree to separate the twins and keep them hidden from both Vader and the Emperor; until the time comes when Anakin’s children can be used to help overthrow the Empire.
Aside from its well known science fictional technology, Star Wars features elements such as knighthood, chivalry, and princesses that are related to archetypes of the fantasy genre. The Star Wars world, unlike fantasy and science-fiction films that featured sleek and futuristic settings, was portrayed as dirty and grimy. Lucas’ vision of a “used future” was further popularized in the science fiction-horror films Alien, which was set on a dirty space freighter; Mad Max 2, which is set in a post-apocalyptic desert; and Blade Runner, which is set in a crumbling, dirty city of the future. Lucas made a conscious effort to parallel scenes and dialogue between films, and especially to parallel the journeys of Luke Skywalker with that of his father Anakin when making the prequels.
Star Wars contains many themes of political science that mainly favor democracy over dictatorship. Political science has been an important element of Star Wars since the franchise first launched in 1977. The plot climax of Star Wars is modeled after the fall of the democratic Roman Republic and the formation of an empire. Star Wars also reflects on the events in America following the September 11 attacks. Some[who?] have drawn similarities between the rise in authoritarianism from around the beginning of Clone Wars until the end of the Old Republic and the United States government‘s actions after 9/11, specifically passage of the Patriot Act in 2001.
All six films of the Star Wars series were shot in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The original trilogy was shot with anamorphic lenses. Episodes IV and V were shot in Panavision, while Episode VI was shot in Joe Dunton Camera (JDC) scope. Episode I was shot with Hawk anamorphic lenses on Arriflex cameras, and Episodes II and III were shot with Sony’s CineAlta high-definition digital cameras.
Lucas hired Ben Burtt to oversee the sound effects on A New Hope. Burtt’s accomplishment was such that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented him with a Special Achievement Award because it had no award at the time for the work he had done. Lucasfilm developed the THX sound reproduction standard for Return of the Jedi. John Williams composed the scores for all six films. Lucas’ design for Star Wars involved a grand musical sound, with leitmotifs for different characters and important concepts. Williams’ Star Wars title theme has become one of the most famous and well-known musical compositions in modern music history.
Lucas hired ‘the Dean of Special Effects’ John Stears, who created R2-D2, Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder, the Jedi Knights’ lightsabers, and the Death Star. The technical lightsaber choreography for the original trilogy was developed by leading filmmaking sword-master Bob Anderson. Anderson trained actor Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and performed all the sword stunts as Darth Vader during the lightsaber duels in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, wearing Vader’s costume. Anderson’s role in the original Star Wars trilogy was highlighted in the film Reclaiming the Blade, where he shares his experiences as the fight choreographer developing the lightsaber techniques for the movies.
In 1971, Universal Studios agreed to make American Graffiti and Star Wars in a two-picture contract, although Star Wars was later rejected in its early concept stages. American Graffiti was completed in 1973 and, a few months later, Lucas wrote a short summary called “The Journal of the Whills”, which told the tale of the training of apprentice CJ Thorpe as a “Jedi-Bendu” space commando by the legendary Mace Windy. Frustrated that his story was too difficult to understand, Lucas then began writing a 13-page treatment called The Star Wars on April 17, 1973, which had thematic parallels with Akira Kurosawa‘s The Hidden Fortress. By 1974, he had expanded the treatment into a rough draft screenplay, adding elements such as the Sith, the Death Star, and a protagonist named Annikin Starkiller.
For the second draft, Lucas made heavy simplifications, and introduced the young hero on a farm as Luke Starkiller. Annikin became Luke’s father, a wise Jedi knight. “The Force” was also introduced as a mystical energy field. The next draft removed the father character and replaced him with a substitute named Ben Kenobi, and in 1976 a fourth draft had been prepared for principal photography. The film was titled Adventures of Luke Starkiller, as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars. During production, Lucas changed Luke’s name to Skywalker and altered the title to simply The Star Wars and finally Star Wars.
At that point, Lucas was not expecting the film to become part of a series. The fourth draft of the script underwent subtle changes that made it more satisfying as a self-contained film, ending with the destruction of the Empire itself by way of destroying the Death Star. However, Lucas had previously conceived of the film as the first in a series of adventures. Later, he realized the film would not in fact be the first in the sequence, but a film in the second trilogy in the saga. This is stated explicitly in George Lucas’ preface to the 1994 reissue of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye:
It wasn’t long after I began writing Star Wars that I realized the story was more than a single film could hold. As the saga of the Skywalkers and Jedi Knights unfolded, I began to see it as a tale that could take at least nine films to tell—three trilogies—and I realized, in making my way through the back story and after story, that I was really setting out to write the middle story.
The second draft contained a teaser for a never-made sequel about “The Princess of Ondos,” and by the time of the third draft some months later Lucas had negotiated a contract that gave him rights to make two sequels. Not long after, Lucas met with author Alan Dean Foster, and hired him to write these two sequels as novels. The intention was that if Star Wars were successful, Lucas could adapt the novels into screenplays. He had also by that point developed an elaborate backstory to aid his writing process.
When Star Wars proved successful, Lucas decided to use the film as the basis for an elaborate serial, although at one point he considered walking away from the series altogether. However, Lucas wanted to create an independent filmmaking center—what would become Skywalker Ranch—and saw an opportunity to use the series as a financing agent. Alan Dean Foster had already begun writing the first sequel novel, but Lucas decided to abandon his plan to adapt Foster’s work; the book was released as Splinter of the Mind’s Eye the following year. At first Lucas envisioned a series of films with no set number of entries, like the James Bond series. In an interview with Rolling Stone in August 1977, he said that he wanted his friends to each take a turn at directing the films and giving unique interpretations on the series. He also said that the backstory in which Darth Vader turns to the dark side, kills Luke’s father and fights Ben Kenobi on a volcano as the Galactic Republic falls would make an excellent sequel.
Later that year, Lucas hired science fiction author Leigh Brackett to write Star Wars II with him. They held story conferences and, by late November 1977, Lucas had produced a handwritten treatment called The Empire Strikes Back. The treatment is similar to the final film, except that Darth Vader does not reveal he is Luke’s father. In the first draft that Brackett would write from this, Luke’s father appears as a ghost to instruct Luke.
Brackett finished her first draft in early 1978; Lucas has said he was disappointed with it, but before he could discuss it with her, she died of cancer. With no writer available, Lucas had to write his next draft himself. It was this draft in which Lucas first made use of the “Episode” numbering for the films; Empire Strikes Back was listed as Episode II. As Michael Kaminski argues in The Secret History of Star Wars, the disappointment with the first draft probably made Lucas consider different directions in which to take the story. He made use of a new plot twist: Darth Vader claims to be Luke’s father. According to Lucas, he found this draft enjoyable to write, as opposed to the yearlong struggles writing the first film, and quickly wrote two more drafts, both in April 1978. He also took the script to a darker extreme by having Han Solo imprisoned in carbonite and left in limbo.
This new story point of Darth Vader being Luke’s father had drastic effects on the series. Michael Kaminski argues in his book that it is unlikely that the plot point had ever seriously been considered or even conceived of before 1978, and that the first film was clearly operating under an alternate storyline where Vader was separate from Luke’s father; there is not a single reference to this plot point before 1978. After writing the second and third drafts of Empire Strikes Back in which the point was introduced, Lucas reviewed the new backstory he had created: Anakin Skywalker was Ben Kenobi’s brilliant student and had a child named Luke, but was swayed to the dark side by Emperor Palpatine (who became a Sith and not simply a politician). Anakin battled Ben Kenobi on the site of a volcano and was wounded, but then resurrected as Darth Vader. Meanwhile, Kenobi hid Luke on Tatooine while the Republic became the Empire and Vader systematically hunted down and killed the Jedi.
With this new backstory in place, Lucas decided that the series would be a trilogy, changing Empire Strikes Back from Episode II to Episode V in the next draft. Lawrence Kasdan, who had just completed writing Raiders of the Lost Ark, was then hired to write the next drafts, and was given additional input from director Irvin Kershner. Kasdan, Kershner, and producer Gary Kurtz saw the film as a more serious and adult film, which was helped by the new, darker storyline, and developed the series from the light adventure roots of the first film.
By the time he began writing Episode VI in 1981 (then titled Revenge of the Jedi), much had changed. Making Empire Strikes Back was stressful and costly, and Lucas’ personal life was disintegrating. Burned out and not wanting to make any more Star Wars films, he vowed that he was done with the series in a May 1983 interview with Time magazine. Lucas’ 1981 rough drafts had Darth Vader competing with the Emperor for possession of Luke—and in the second script, the “revised rough draft”, Vader became a sympathetic character. Lawrence Kasdan was hired to take over once again and, in these final drafts, Vader was explicitly redeemed and finally unmasked. This change in character would provide a springboard to the “Tragedy of Darth Vader” storyline that underlies the prequels.
After losing much of his fortune in a divorce settlement in 1987, Lucas had no desire to return to Star Wars, and had unofficially canceled his sequel trilogy by the time of Return of the Jedi. Nevertheless, the prequels, which were only still a series of basic ideas partially pulled from his original drafts of “The Star Wars” continued to fascinate him with the possibilities of technical advances would make it possible to revisit his 20-year-old material. After Star Wars became popular once again, in the wake of Dark Horse‘s comic book line and Timothy Zahn‘s trilogy of novels, Lucas saw that there was still a large audience. His children were older, and with the explosion of CGI technology he was now considering returning to directing. By 1993 it was announced, in Variety among other sources, that he would be making the prequels. He began penning more to the story, now indicating the series would be a tragic one examining Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side. Lucas also began to change how the prequels would exist relative to the originals; at first they were supposed to be a “filling-in” of history tangential to the originals, but now he saw that they could form the beginning of one long story that started with Anakin’s childhood and ended with his death. This was the final step towards turning the film series into a “Saga”.
In 1994, Lucas finally had his first screenplay titled Episode I: The Beginning. Following the release of that film, Lucas announced that he would also be directing the next two, and began working on Episode II at that time. The first draft of Episode II was completed just weeks before principal photography, and Lucas hired Jonathan Hales, a writer from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, to polish it. Unsure of a title, Lucas had jokingly called the film “Jar Jar’s Great Adventure.” In writing The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas initially decided that Lando Calrissian was a clone and came from a planet of clones which caused the “Clone Wars” mentioned by Princess Leia in A New Hope; he later came up with an alternate concept of an army of clone shocktroopers from a remote planet which attacked the Republic and were repelled by the Jedi. The basic elements of that backstory became the plot basis for Episode II, with the new wrinkle added that Palpatine secretly orchestrated the crisis.
Lucas began working on Episode III before Attack of the Clones was released, offering concept artists that the film would open with a montage of seven Clone War battles. As he reviewed the storyline that summer, however, he says he radically re-organized the plot. Michael Kaminski, in The Secret History of Star Wars, offers evidence that issues in Anakin’s fall to the dark side prompted Lucas to make massive story changes, first revising the opening sequence to have Palpatine kidnapped and his apprentice, Count Dooku, murdered by Anakin as the first act in the latter’s turn towards the dark side. After principal photography was complete in 2003, Lucas made even more massive changes in Anakin’s character, re-writing his entire turn to the dark side; he would now turn primarily in a quest to save Padmé’s life, rather than the previous version in which that reason was one of several, including that he genuinely believed that the Jedi were evil and plotting to take over the Republic. This fundamental re-write was accomplished both through editing the principal footage, and new and revised scenes filmed during pick-ups in 2004.
Lucas often exaggerated the amount of material he wrote for the series; much of it stemmed from the post‐1978 period when the series grew into a phenomenon. Michael Kaminski explained that these exaggerations were both a publicity and security measure. Kaminski rationalized that since the series’ story radically changed throughout the years, it was always Lucas’ intention to change the original story retroactively because audiences would only view the material from his perspective. When congratulating the producers of the TV series Lost in 2010, Lucas himself jokingly admitted, “when Star Wars first came out, I didn’t know where it was going either. The trick is to pretend you’ve planned the whole thing out in advance. Throw in some father issues and references to other stories – let’s call them homages – and you’ve got a series”.
A sequel trilogy was reportedly planned (Episodes VII, VIII and IX) by Lucasfilm as a sequel to the original Star Wars trilogy (Episodes IV, V and VI), released between 1977 and 1983. While the similarly discussed Star Wars prequel trilogy (Episodes I, II and III) was ultimately released between 1999 and 2005, Lucasfilm and George Lucas had for many years denied plans for a sequel trilogy, insisting that Star Wars is meant to be a six-part series. In May 2008, speaking about the upcoming Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Lucas maintained his status on the sequel trilogy: “I get asked all the time, ‘What happens after Return of the Jedi?,’ and there really is no answer for that. The movies were the story of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and when Luke saves the galaxy and redeems his father, that’s where that story ends.”
In January 2012, Lucas announced that he would step away from blockbuster films and instead produce smaller arthouse films. Asked whether the criticism he received following the prequel trilogy and the alterations to the original trilogy had influenced his decision to retire, Lucas said: “Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?”
Despite insisting that a sequel trilogy would never happen, George Lucas began working on story treatments for three new Star Wars films in 2011. In October 2012, The Walt Disney Company agreed to buy Lucasfilm and announced that Star Wars Episode VII would be released in 2015. Later, it was revealed that the three new upcoming films (Episodes VII-IX) would be based on story treatments that had been written by George Lucas prior to the sale of Lucasfilm. The co-chairman of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy became president of the company, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. In addition, Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with franchise creator and Lucasfilm founder Lucas serving as creative consultant. The screenplay for Episode VII was originally set to be written by Michael Arndt, but in October 2013 it was announced that writing duties would be taken over by Lawrence Kasdan and J. J. Abrams. On January 25, 2013, The Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm officially announced J. J. Abrams as Star Wars Episode VII ’s director and producer, along with Bryan Burk and Bad Robot Productions.
On November 20, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Lawrence Kasdan, writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and Simon Kinberg will write and produce Episodes VIII and IX. Kasdan and Kinberg were later confirmed as creative consultants on those films, in addition to writing stand-alone films. In addition, John Williams, who wrote the music for the previous six episodes, has been hired to compose the music for Episodes VII, VIII and IX.
On June 21, 2014 it was reported that Looper director Rian Johnson would direct Episode VIII with Ram Bergman as a producer. Reports initially claimed he would direct Episode IX as well, but it was later revealed he would only write a story treatment for Episode IX. When asked about Episode VIII in an August 2014 interview, Johnson said “it’s boring to talk about, because the only thing I can really say is, I’m just happy. I don’t have the terror I kind of expected I would, at least not yet. I’m sure I will at some point.” It is scheduled to be released on May 26, 2017. J. J. Abrams will serve as executive producer.
On February 5, 2013, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed the development of two stand-alone films, each individually written by Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg. On February 6, Entertainment Weekly reported that Disney is working on two films featuring Han Solo and Boba Fett. Disney CFO Jay Rasulo has described the stand-alone films as origin stories. Kathleen Kennedy explained that the stand-alone films will not crossover with the films of the sequel trilogy, stating, “George was so clear as to how that works. The canon that he created was the Star Wars saga. Right now, Episode VII falls within that canon. The spin-off movies, or we may come up with some other way to call those films, they exist within that vast universe that he created. There is no attempt being made to carry characters (from the stand-alone films) in and out of the saga episodes. Consequently, from the creative standpoint, it’s a roadmap that George made pretty clear.” In April 2015, Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy announced that the stand-alone films will be referred to as the Star Wars Anthology series.
In May 2014, Lucasfilm announced that Gareth Edwards will direct the first anthology film, to be released on December 16, 2016, with Gary Whitta writing the first draft. On March 12, 2015, the film’s title was revealed to be Rogue One with Chris Weitz rewriting the script, with Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn and Diego Luna starring. On April 19, 2015, a teaser trailer was shown exclusively during the closing of the Star Wars Celebration. Lucasfilm also announced that filming would begin in the summer of 2015. The plot will revolve around a group of rebels on a mission to steal the Death Star plans; director Edwards stated, “It comes down to a group of individuals who don’t have magical powers that have to somehow bring hope to the galaxy.” Additionally, Kathleen Kennedy and Kiri Hart confirmed that the stand-alone films will be labeled as “anthology films”. Edwards stated that the style of the film will be similar to that of a war film, stating, “It’s the reality of war. Good guys are bad. Bad guys are good. It’s complicated, layered; a very rich scenario in which to set a movie.”
Untitled Han Solo anthology film
On July 7, 2015, Lucasfilm announced, via StarWars.com, that a second anthology film, which “focuses on how young Han Solo became the smuggler, thief, and scoundrel whom Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at Mos Eisley”, would be released on May 25, 2018. The project will be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from a script by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan. Kathleen Kennedy will produce the film, Lawrence Kasdan and Jason McGatlin will executive produce, and Will Allegra will co-produce. The Hollywood Reporter stated when reporting the story, that the film is separate to the anthology film that was originally being developed by Josh Trank. That film has now been pushed back to an unconfirmed date.
Untitled Boba Fett anthology film
In June 2014, Chronicle director Josh Trank was announced as the director of the second anthology feature. On May 1, 2015, Lucasfilm and Trank jointly announced that Trank was no longer directing the film. On May 4, 2015, it was confirmed that the film would surround the origins of Boba Fett, a bounty hunter in the original trilogy.
At a ShoWest convention in 2005, Lucas demonstrated new technology and stated that he planned to release the six films in a new 3D film format, beginning with A New Hope in 2007. However, by January 2007, Lucasfilm stated on StarWars.com that “there are no definitive plans or dates for releasing the Star Wars saga in 3-D.” At Celebration Europe in July 2007, Rick McCallum confirmed that Lucasfilm is “planning to take all six films and turn them into 3-D,” but they are “waiting for the companies out there that are developing this technology to bring it down to a cost level that makes it worthwhile for everybody”. In July 2008, Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, revealed that Lucas plans to redo all six of the movies in 3D. In late September 2010, it was announced that The Phantom Menace would be theatrically re-released in 3-D on February 10, 2012. The plan was to re-release all six films in order, with the 3-D conversion process taking up to a year to complete for each film. However, the 3D re-releases of episodes II and III have been postponed to enable Lucasfilm to concentrate on Episode VII.