The biggest surprise in Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm last year was the announcement that there would be a new Star Wars trilogy put into production. But what hasn’t been apparent until now is that this prequel trilogy was actually in development at Lucasfilm before official discussions with Disney had even begun.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek has a great, in-depth article in which Star Wars creator George Lucas reveals that among other things the idea for a new trilogy stems out of his appointing Kathleen Kennedy to head the company as he began his preparations for retirement and that they had already been in negotiations with Original Trilogy stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford to return for the new films.
Here are a couple of bullet point from the piece –
- Lucas asked if she [Kennedy] was interested in taking over Lucasfilm. Kennedy may have been blindsided by the news, but she happily accepted the position. “When Kathy came on, we started talking about starting up the whole franchise again,” he says. “I was pulling away, and I said, ‘Well, I’ve got to build this company up so it functions without me, and we need to do something to make it attractive.’ So I said, ‘Well, let’s just do these movies.’ ”
- Lucas started talking to members of the original Star Wars cast, such as Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, about appearing in the films. In June 2012, he called [Disney chief Bob] Iger.
- At first Lucas wouldn’t even turn over his rough sketches of the next three Star Wars films. When Disney executives asked to see them, he assured them they would be great and said they should just trust him. “Ultimately you have to say, ‘Look, I know what I’m doing. Buying my stories is part of what the deal is.’ I’ve worked at this for 40 years, and I’ve been pretty successful,” Lucas says. “I mean, I could have said, ‘Fine, well, I’ll just sell the company to somebody else.’ ”
- Asked whether members of the original Star Wars cast will appear in Episode VII and if he called them before the deal closed to keep them informed, Lucas says, “We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison—or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation. So I called them to say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on.’ ” He pauses. “Maybe I’m not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them.” Then he adds: “I won’t say whether the negotiations were successful or not.”
Well, I think we know now whether those negotiations were successful. (Hint – They were.)
What’s interesting about all of this is that we know have a firm idea as to when Lucas began thinking and doing serious work on the new trilogy. I know that there are some sites out there who have been claiming from alleged inside sources that work had been going on in secret at Lucasfilm for several years now, but as Lucas himself states it was only last summer that his attentions turned that way.
It’s also interesting that much of the work started this past summer had remained tightly under wraps until the Disney deal was announced. That’s the kind of security that I am sure appealed to the like-minded J J Abrams when he signed on to direct Star Wars: Episode VII.