One of the key questions coming out of Disney buying Lucasfilm and announcing Star Wars: Episode VII is where the next trilogy will go. While Lucas has said he has a full treatment for the next film and at least an outline for the following two episodes, as well as ideas for more, there is still a whole cadre of novels, comics and graphic novels that encompass the Expanded Universe of Star Wars. However, I don’t see them adapting anything –at least at this time- from the EU. While many love Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy, realistically, it would difficult to adapt those books because they take place just after the events of Return of the Jedi. And with the 2015 release date of Episode VII, that put’s it 32 years after Episode VI. So unless Disney plans to recast all the main actors from Episode 4-6, which would cause the fan base to explode, expect this new trilogy to be set at least three decades after Jedi –ironically, the could do what Paramount and Gene Roddenberry did with the Star Trek franchise, and take “next generation” approach to it.
Unless, of course, they decide to jump even further ahead in time and not bother bringing anyone back.
Staying relatively within a 35 or 40 year gap between Jedi and Episode VII could still have appearances by Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. That means focusing on the children of Luke, Leia and Han. Someone said the Legacy of the Force series in EU could be used as a jumping off place, as its set about 40 years after Episode VI: A New Hope and deals with Leia and Han’s son Jacen as he is tempted by the dark side of the Force –which is a nice bookend to the entire series, if you think about it. That series contains nine books in all, written by three different authors, which leads to problems on crediting certain elements within those nine books.
There is also an issue of paying authors for their work. While I’m not exactly sure how the contracts work, I’m guessing the authors should get paid for their novels, even if they don’t own the characters (though they probably do own the ones they create for the novels, but again, I’m not clear on that). Over the last few years, while the studios have been adapting novels, they’ve also been trying to adapt books that are in the public domain, which saves them a ton of money. I’m guessing, Disney will steer clear of those EU novels because they’ll have to pay additional fees to the authors they do decide to adapt.
So, for now, I think the EU will remain where they are, safely ensconced as novels, existing in a parallel universe. The only way they may see adaptation is within a potential TV series. It’s been known for a long time that Lucasfilm was working on an expensive live-action series set between Episode III and IV, which would feature other characters- like Boba Fett- within the Star Wars universe. They claimed, as well, to have fifty completed scripts for it, but have also said the cost would be too much for current broadcast network budget plans. Now that Disney has control over it, can we see them working out a way to make it work? They have ABC, the Disney Channel and Disney XD cable net at which to exploit a new series, thus spreading it over a lot of real estate for one initial cost. And it seems logical that we’ll see it sooner than later, as Disney will want to capitalize on franchise fairly quickly in the ancillary area and hopefully draw enthusiasm and excitement for the new trilogy.
Of course, beyond TV where the EU novels might find success, there is (or should be) what comes after Episode VII, VIII, and IX? Then again, maybe we’re just looking too far into the future to assume anything. What we should be thinking is where, how and when the next trilogy will be set. Who will write it, who will direct it? Will they bring back anyone from the original trilogy?
We’ve got time to speculate, kids.