Star Wars is not The Hangover. It is not The Fast and The Furious. It's not the movie equivalent of a McDonald's hamburger, a cheap piece of cinematic entertainment that can be churned out with relative ease, all thanks to a trusty set of hero clichés and action-packed plot templates.
But considering the ambitious plan that Disney supposedly has for this exalted franchise, you might think some executives think it is. According to reports first published yesterday, Disney chief Robert Iger has hatched a plan to release the next three Star Wars movies – plus at least two spinoffs – over a six-year period, starting with Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015.
That's a whole lotta Star Wars, and that should make some moviegoers excited. But Episode VII is far from finished, and the clock is ticking. Though filming for the project is set to begin next spring, a recent shakeup in the writing department – director J.J. Abrams and Return of the Jedi co-writer Lawrence Kasdan have taken over for Oscar-winning movie scribe Michael Arndt – suggests that more work is to be done on the screenplay alone.
Sources close to the Episode VII project tell the Reporter that producer Kathleen Kennedy has asked Disney to push the film's release to 2016. But Iger supposedly wants to keep the planned 2015 release date, which might make fans wonder if budget is dictating the creative process, and Episode VII is being rushed through production like some second-rate Hollywood money-maker.
Deadlines, of course, are good for any project, especially one as unwieldy as Star Wars. If given an unspecified timeframe and unlimited budget, Abrams could conceivably get bogged down in the minutiae of the galaxy, devising all sorts of Empire assault vehicles and adorable alien creatures while neglecting all-important elements like story arc, character development and lightsaber razzle-dazzle.
Still, patience and investment does a film good. Back in the Seventies, a full four years passed as George Lucas took an initial, 13-page treatment, molded it into a story about a heroic farm boy named "Luke Starkiller," and continued working until he finally unveiled A New Hope in 1977. It would be another three years before the release of The Empire Strikes Back, and three more after that before Return of the Jedi. So if the filmmakers need another year to make Episode VII, it'll be worth it for Disney if it means a better movie.
Fan-boys and fan-girls shouldn't lose too much sleep over this drama, though. Lately, Star Wars rumors have been flying around the Internet faster than the Millennium Falcon entering hyperspace, and various anonymous sources have said all sorts of impossible-to-verify things about what's happening behind the scenes. Whether Disney's six-year plan for Star Wars is truth, partial-truth or fiction, only the insiders know for sure.
What is clear, however, is that moviegoers will always be happy to watch another Star Wars movie, whenever it comes out.
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