The series has spawned an extensive media franchise including books, television series, computer and video games, theme park attractions, and comic books, resulting in significant development of the series' fictional universe. Star Wars also holds a Guinness World Records title for the "Most successful film merchandising franchise". In 2015, the total value of the Star Wars franchise was estimated at US$42 billion, making Star Wars the second highest-grossing media franchise of all time.
The Star Wars franchise takes place in a distant unnamed fictional galaxy at an undetermined point in the ancient past, where many species of aliens (often humanoid) co-exist. People own robotic droids, who assist them in their daily routines, and Space travel is common.
The spiritual and mystical element of the Star Wars galaxy is known as "The Force". It is described in the original film as "an energy field created by all living things [that] surrounds us, penetrates us, [and] binds the galaxy together". The people who are born deeply connected to the Force have better reflexes; through training and meditation, they are able to achieve various supernatural feats (such as telekinesis, clairvoyance, precognition, and mind control). The Force is wielded by two major factions at conflict: the Jedi whom harness the light side of the Force, and the Sith whom use the dark side of the force through hate and aggression.
In 1971, Universal Studios made a contract for George Lucas to direct two films. In 1973, American Graffiti was completed, and released to critical acclaim including Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Original Screenplay for George Lucas. Months later, Lucas started work on his second film, by starting the script draft, The Journal of the Whills told the tale of the training of apprentice CJ Thorpe as a "Jedi-Bendu" space commando by the legendary Mace Windy. After Universal rejected the film, 20th Century Fox decided to invest on it. On April 17, 1973, Lucas felt frustrated about his story being too difficult to understand, so he began writing a 13-page script with thematic parallels to Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, this draft was renamed The Star Wars. By 1974, he had expanded the script into a rough draft screenplay, adding elements such as the Sith, the Death Star, and a protagonist named Annikin Starkiller. Numerous subsequent drafts would go, through numerous drastic changes, before evolving into the script of the original film.
Star Wars was released on May 25, 1977. It was followed by 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. The plot of the original trilogy centers on the Galactic Civil War of the Rebel Alliance trying to free the galaxy from the crutches of the Galactic Empire, as well as on Luke Skywalker's quest to become a Jedi.
Near the orbit of the desert planet Tatooine, a Rebel spaceship is intercepted by the Empire. Aboard, the deadliest Imperial agent Darth Vader and his stormtroopers capture Princess Leia Organa, a secret member of the rebellion. Before her capture, Leia makes sure the astromech R2-D2, along with the protocol droid C-3PO, escapes with stolen Imperial blueprints stored inside and a holographic message for the retired Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, who has been living in exile on Tatooine. The droids fall under the ownership of Luke Skywalker, an orphan farm boy raised by his step-uncle and aunt. Luke helps the droids locate Obi-Wan, now a solitary old hermit known as Ben Kenobi, who reveals himself as a friend of Luke's absent father, the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker. Obi-Wan confides to Luke that Anakin was "betrayed and murdered" by Vader (who was Obi-Wan's former Jedi apprentice) years ago, and he gives Luke his father's former lightsaber to keep. After viewing Leia's message, they both hire the smuggler Han Solo and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca to, aboard their space freighter the Millennium Falcon, help them deliver the stolen blueprints inside R2-D2 to the Rebel Alliance with the hope of finding a weakness to the Empire's planet-destroying space station: the Death Star.
For The Star Wars second draft, Lucas made heavy simplifications. It added a mystical energy field known as "The Force" and introduced the young hero on a farm as Luke Starkiller. Annikin became Luke's father, a wise Jedi knight. The third draft killed the father Annikin, replacing him with mentor figure Ben Kenobi. Later, Lucas felt the film would not in fact be the first in the sequence, but a film in the second trilogy in the saga. The draft contained a sub-plot leading to a sequel about "The Princess of Ondos", and by that time some months later Lucas had negotiated a contract that gave him rights to make two sequels. Not long after, Lucas hired author Alan Dean Foster, to write two sequels as novels. 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 have sequels. The fourth draft of the script underwent subtle changes it discarded "the Princess of Ondos" sub-plot, to become a self-contained film, that ended with the destruction of the Galactic Empire itself by way of destroying the Death Star. However, Lucas previously conceived of the film as the first of a series. The intention was that if Star Wars was successful, Lucas could adapt Dean Foster's novels into low-budget sequels. By that point, Lucas had developed an elaborate backstory to aid his writing process.
Before its release, Lucas considered walking away from Star Wars sequels, thinking the film would be a flop. However the film exceeded all expectations. The success of the film, as well as its merchandise sales, and Lucas desire to create an independent film-making center. Both led Lucas to make Star Wars the basis of an elaborate film serial, and use the profits to finance his film-making center, Skywalker Ranch. Alan Dean Foster was already writing the first sequel-novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye, released in 1978. But Lucas decided not to adapt Foster's work. Knowing a sequel, would be allowed more budget. 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. Also adding that the backstory in which Darth Vader turns to the dark side, kills Luke's father and fights Obi-Wan Kenobi on a volcano as the Galactic Republic falls would make an excellent sequel.
Three years after the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebels are forced to evacuate their secret base on Hoth as they are hunted by the Empire. At the request of the late Obi-Wan's spirit, Luke travels to the swamp-infested world of Dagobah to find the exiled Jedi Master Yoda and begin his Jedi training. However, Luke's training is interrupted by Vader, who lures him into a trap by capturing Han and Leia at Cloud City, governed by Han's old friend Lando Calrissian. During a fierce lightsaber duel with the Sith Lord, Luke learns that Vader is his father.
After the success of the original film, 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. It was similar to the final film, except that Darth Vader does not reveal he is Luke's father.
Brackett finished her first draft in early 1978; in it, Luke's father appeared as a ghost to instruct Luke. 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. This new story point of Darth Vader being Luke's father had drastic effects on the series. After writing these two drafts, Lucas revised the backstory between Anakin Skywalker, Kenobi, and the Emperor.
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.
A year after Vader's shocking revelation, Luke leads a rescue attempt to save Han from the gangster Jabba the Hutt. Afterward, Luke returns to Dagobah to complete his Jedi training, only to find the 900-year-old Yoda on his deathbed. In his last words Yoda confirms that Vader is Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker, and that Luke must confront his father again in order to complete his training. Moments later, the spirit of Obi-Wan reveals to Luke that Leia is his twin sister, but Obi-Wan also insists that Luke must face Vader again. As the Rebels lead an attack on the Death Star II, Luke engages Vader in another lightsaber duel as Emperor Palpatine watches; both Sith Lords intend to turn Luke to the dark side of the Force and take him as their apprentice.
By the time Lucas 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, George Lucas had no desire to return to Star Wars, and had unofficially canceled the sequel trilogy by the time of Return of the Jedi. At that point, the prequels were only still a series of basic ideas partially pulled from his original drafts of "The Star Wars". Nevertheless, technical advances in the late 1980s and 1990s continued to fascinate Lucas, and he considered that they might make it possible to revisit his 20-year-old material. After Star Wars became popular once again, in the wake of Dark Empire and other comics in 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.
The prequel trilogy consists 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. The plot focuses on the fall of the Galactic Republic, as well as the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker's turn to the dark side.
About 32 years before the start of the Galactic Civil War, the corrupt Trade Federation sets a blockade 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 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 plead her planet's crisis before the Republic Senate on Coruscant. When their starship is damaged during the escape, they land on Tatooine for repairs. Palpatine dispatches his first Sith apprentice, Darth Maul, to hunt down the Queen and her Jedi protectors. While on Tatooine, Qui-Gon discovers a nine-year-old slave named Anakin Skywalker. Qui-Gon helps liberate the boy from slavery, believing Anakin to be the "Chosen One" foretold by a Jedi prophecy to bring balance to the Force. However, the Jedi Council (led by Yoda) suspects the boy possesses too much fear and anger within him.
By 1993, it was announced, in Variety among other sources, that Lucas 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 began writing the screenplay to the first prequel, initially titled Episode I: The Beginning. Following the release of that film, Lucas announced that he would also be directing the next two, and began work on Episode II.
Ten years after the Battle of Naboo, Anakin is reunited with Padmé, now serving as the Senator of Naboo, and they fall in love despite Anakin's obligations to the Jedi Order. At the same time, the entire galaxy gets swept up in the Clone Wars between the armies of the Republic, led by the Jedi Order, and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, led by the fallen Jedi Count Dooku.
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 both Luke Skywalker and 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.
Three years after the start of the Clone Wars, Anakin and Obi-Wan lead a rescue mission to save the kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine from Count Dooku and the droid commander General Grievous. Later, Anakin begins to have prophetic visions of his secret wife Padmé dying in childbirth. Palpatine, who had been secretly engineering the Clone Wars to destroy the Jedi Order, convinces Anakin that the dark side of the Force holds the power to save Padmé's 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 his former master Obi-Wan on the volcanic planet Mustafar.
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.
On August 15, 2008, the animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released theatrically as a lead-in to the animated TV series with the same name.
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.
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 (2008-05), speaking about the upcoming Star Wars: The Clone Wars film, 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 re-releases of 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, 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 sequel trilogy began with Episode VII: The Force Awakens, released on December 18, 2015.
About 30 years after the destruction of the Death Star II, Luke Skywalker has vanished following the demise of the new Jedi Order he was attempting to build. The remnants of the Empire have become the First Order, and seek to destroy Luke and the New Republic, while the Resistance opposes, led by princess-turned-general Leia Organa and backed by the Republic. On Jakku, Resistance pilot Poe Dameron obtains a map to Luke's location. Stormtroopers under the command of Kylo Ren, the son of Leia and Han Solo, capture Poe. Poe's droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and encounters a scavenger Rey. Kylo tortures Poe and learns of BB-8. Stormtrooper FN-2187 defects from the First Order, and frees Poe who dubs him "Finn", while both escape in a TIE fighter that crashes on Jakku, seemingly killing Poe. Finn finds Rey and BB-8, but the First Order does too; both escape Jakku in a stolen Millennium Falcon. The Falcon is recaptured by Han and Chewbacca, smugglers again since abandoning the Resistance. They agree to help deliver the map inside BB-8 to the Resistance.
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 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 standalone 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 March 12, 2015, Lucasfilm announced that Looper director Rian Johnson would direct Episode VIII with Ram Bergman as producer for Ram Bergman Productions. Reports initially claimed Johnson would also direct Episode IX, but it was later confirmed he would write only a story treatment. Johnson later wrote on his Twitter that the information about him writing a treatment for Episode IX is old, and he's not involved with the writing of that film. 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."
Principal photography on The Last Jedi began in February 2016. Additional filming took place in Dubrovnik from March 9 to March 16, 2016, as well as in Ireland in May 2016. Principal photography wrapped in July 2016. On December 27, 2016, Carrie Fisher died after going into cardiac arrest a few days earlier. Before her death, Fisher had completed filming her role as General Leia Organa in The Last Jedi. The film is to be released on December 15, 2017.
Production on Episode IX is scheduled to begin sometime in 2017. Variety and Reuters reported that Carrie Fisher was slated for a key role in Episode IX. Now, Lucasfilm, Disney and others involved with the film will need to find a way to address her death and what will become of her character. In January 2017, Lucasfilm stated they would not digitally generate Fisher's performance for the film. In April 2017, Todd Fisher and Billie Lourd gave Disney permission to use recent footage of Fisher for the film, but later that month, Kennedy stated that Fisher will not appear in the film. Principal photography of Star Wars: Episode IX is set to begin in June 2018.
On February 5, 2013, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed the development of two standalone 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 standalone films as origin stories. Kathleen Kennedy explained that the standalone 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 standalone 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 Kennedy announced that the standalone films would be referred to as the Star Wars Anthology films. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released on December 16, 2016 as the first in an anthology series of films separate from the main episodic saga.
The story about the group of rebels who stole the Death Star plans, ending directly before Episode IV: A New Hope.
The idea for the film was conceived by John Knoll who worked as a visual effects supervisor of the prequel trilogy films. In May 2014, Lucasfilm announced Gareth Edwards as the director of the first anthology film, with Gary Whitta writing the first draft, for a release on December 16, 2016. On March 12, 2015, the film's title was revealed to be Rogue One, with Chris Weitz rewriting the script, and starring Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, and Diego Luna. In April 2015, a teaser trailer was shown during the closing of the Star Wars Celebration. Lucasfilm also announced filming would begin in the summer of 2015, and the plot synopsis. 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."; and describing the style of the film as similar to that of a war film: "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." After its debut, Rogue One received generally positive reviews, with its performances, action sequences, soundtrack, visual effects and darker tone being praised. The film grossed over US$500 million worldwide within a week of its release. Characters from the animated series appear, Saw Gerrera (from The Clone Wars) in a pivotal role in the plot and Chopper (from Star Wars: Rebels) in a cameo.
A film focusing on Han Solo before the events of Episode IV: A New Hope.
The script was written by Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan, and his son Jon Kasdan. The film also stars Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca (after serving as a double for the character in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi), Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, and also Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller began principal photography on the film, but due to creative differences, the pair left the project in June 2017 with three and a half weeks remaining in principal photography. Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard was announced as their replacement. While his first Star Wars film, Howard had previously collaborated with producing company Lucasfilm as an actor in the George Lucas-directed film American Graffiti (1973) and as a director (Willow (1988). Howard was one of the three directors George Lucas asked to direct Episode I: The Phantom Menace, though Howard declined, saying, "George, you should do it!". The film is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and will be released on May 25, 2018.
A third Anthology film will be released in 2020. A writer for the film has been hired as of September 2016.
On February 6, 2013, Entertainment Weekly reported that Lucasfilm hired Josh Trank to direct a Star Wars stand-alone film, with the news being confirmed soon after. However, in November 2016, Disney announced that their contract with Trank was terminated due to the overwhelmingly negative reviews of the Fantastic Four. It was reported that the film was still in early development at Lucasfilm, and it was rumored that the film would focus on bounty hunter Boba Fett. However Lucasfilm never confirmed what the plot was about, however it confirmed the film Josh Trank left was a different film from the Han Solo spin-off.
In August 2016, Ewan McGregor stated he would be open to return to the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, albeit for a spin-off film on the character, should he be approached, wanting to tell a story between Episode III and IV. Fans showed interest in the idea; a fan-trailer for an Obi-Wan film, with footage from the film Last Days in the Desert (on which starred McGregor) became viral and widely praised by fans. The film was voted as the most wanted anthology film in a pool by The Hollywood Reporter despite being only rumors. Lucasfilm and McGregor have denied the development of such film, despite fans' continued interest, and rumors. Days before the Star Wars Rebels episode "Twin Suns" (where Obi-Wan appeared) aired, McGregor said again, that he would like to do it, if Lucasfilm wanted him to. Fellow cast member Joel Edgerton who played Luke Skywalker's step uncle, Owen, in the prequel trilogy, said he would like to reprise his role in an Obi-Wan standalone film, if it were to be made, and also expressed interest in playing Boba Fett without taking off the mask, in the rumored Boba Fett film. By August 2017, a film focusing on Obi-Wan Kenobi was reported to be in development, with Stephen Daldry in early talks to direct. The same report also said Lucasfilm was considering various films about different characters including movies focusing on Boba Fett, as well as Jedi Master Yoda. In 2015, director Guillermo Del Toro pitched on idea to Lucasfilm for a film about Jabba the Hutt, and by 2017, it was reported that it is among the projects being considered by the studio.
Samuel L. Jackson has expressed interest in returning as Mace Windu, insisting that his character survived his death. Fans have also expressed interest towards the possibility of Ahsoka Tano appearing in a live-action film, with Rosario Dawson expressing interest in the role. However, Lucasfilm still has not given an official confirmation on any of the rumored projects.
From 1977 to 2014, the term Expanded Universe ( abbreviated as EU), was an umbrella term for all officially licensed Star Wars storytelling materials set outside the events depicted within the theatrical films, including television series, novels, comics, and video games. Lucasfilm maintained internal continuity between the films and television content and the EU material until April 25, 2014, when the company announced all of the EU works would cease production. Existing works would no longer be considered canon to the franchise and subsequent reprints would be rebranded under the Star Wars Legends label, with downloadable content for the massively multiplayer online game Star Wars: The Old Republic being the only Legends material to still be produced. The Star Wars canon was subsequently restructured to only include the existing six feature films, the animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), and its companion animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. All future projects and creative developments across all types of media would be overseen and coordinated by the Story Group, announced as a division of Lucasfilm created to maintain continuity and a cohesive vision on the storytelling of the franchise. Lucasfilm announced that the change was made "to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience". The animated series Star Wars Rebels was the first project produced after the announcement, followed by multiple comics series from Marvel, novels published by Del Rey, and the sequel film The Force Awakens (2015).
In the two-hour Star Wars Holiday Special produced for CBS in 1978, Chewbacca returns to his home planet of Kashyyyk to celebrate "Life Day" with his family. Along with the stars of the original 1977 film, celebrities Bea Arthur, Art Carney, Diahann Carroll, and Jefferson Starship appear in plot-related skits and musical numbers. The Holiday Special also features the first appearance of bounty hunter Boba Fett, in an 11-minute animated sequence. Lucas loathed the special and forbade it to ever be aired again after its original broadcast, or reproduced on home video. The television film Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure aired on ABC on Thanksgiving weekend in 1984. With a story by Lucas and a screenplay by Bob Carrau, it features the Ewok Wicket from Return of the Jedi as he helps two children rescue their parents from a giant known as Gorax. The 1985 sequel, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, finds Wicket and his friends protecting their village from invaders.
The animated series Star Wars: Droids (1985–1986), which aired for one season on ABC, follows the adventures of the droids C-3PO and R2-D2, 15 years before the events of the 1977 film Star Wars. Its sister series Star Wars: Ewoks (1985–1987) features the adventures of the Ewoks before Return of the Jedi and the Ewok movies.
Depicting events between the prequel films Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Clone Wars aired on the Cartoon Network from 2003 to 2005, and won Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program in 2004 and 2005.
A new CGI-animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008–2014) was introduced, set in the same time period as the previous Clone Wars series and related to the 2008 animated film of the same name. It was followed by the current CGI-animated series Star Wars Rebels, which debuted on Disney XD in 2014. Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the series follows a band of rebels as they fight the Galactic Empire. The Clone Wars, its originating film, and Rebels were accepted as part of the canon by Lucasfilm when previous works were reassigned to the Legends brand in 2014.
A parody animated series called Star Wars Detours was produced prior to the Disney acquisition, but its release was postponed in 2013 and it ultimately never aired, despite 39 episodes having been completed and 62 additional scripts finished. A live-action television project has also been in varying stages of development at Lucasfilm since 2005, when Lucas announced plans for a television series set between the prequel and original trilogies. Producer Rick McCallum revealed the working title, Star Wars: Underworld, in 2012, and said in 2013 that 50 scripts had been written. He called the project "The most provocative, the most bold and daring material that we've ever done." The proposed series explores criminal and political power struggles in the decades prior to A New Hope, and as of December 2015 was still in development at Lucasfilm.
Star Wars-based fiction predates the release of the first film, with the 1976 novelization of Star Wars (ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster and credited to Lucas). The first Expanded Universe story appeared in Marvel Comics' Star Wars #7 in January 1978 (the first six issues of the series having been an adaptation of the film), followed quickly by Alan Dean Foster's novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye the following month.
Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, the 1976 novelization of Star Wars: A New Hope by Alan Dean Foster, was followed by Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye (1978), an alternate sequel commissioned by Lucas. The film novelizations for The Empire Strikes Back (1980) by Donald F. Glut and Return of the Jedi (1983) by James Kahn followed, as well as The Han Solo Adventures trilogy (1979–1980) by Brian Daley, and The Adventures of Lando Calrissian (1983) trilogy by L. Neil Smith.
The bestselling Thrawn trilogy (1991–1993) by Timothy Zahn reignited interest in the franchise and introduced the popular characters Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and Gilad Pellaeon. The first novel, Heir to the Empire, reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list, and the series finds Luke, Leia, and Han facing off against tactical genius Thrawn, who is plotting to retake the galaxy for the Empire. Though Thrawn was designated a Legends character in 2014, he was reintroduced into the canon in the 2016 third season of Star Wars Rebels. In The Courtship of Princess Leia (1994) by Dave Wolverton, set immediately before the Thrawn trilogy, Leia considers an advantageous political marriage to Prince Isolder of the planet Hapes, but she and Han ultimately marry. Steve Perry's Shadows of the Empire (1996), set in the as-yet-unexplored time period between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, was part of a multimedia campaign that included a comic book series and video game. The novel introduced the crime lord Prince Xizor, another popular character who would appear in multiple other works. Other notable series from Bantam include the Jedi Academy trilogy (1994) by Kevin J. Anderson, the 14-book Young Jedi Knights series (1995–1998) by Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, and the X-wing series (1996–2012) by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston.
Del Rey took over Star Wars book publishing in 1999, releasing what would become a 19-installment novel series called The New Jedi Order (1999–2003). Written by multiple authors, the series was set 25 to 30 years after the original films and introduced the Yuuzhan Vong, a powerful alien race attempting to invade and conquer the entire galaxy. The bestselling multi-author series Legacy of the Force (2006–2008) chronicles the crossover of Han and Leia's son Jacen Solo to the dark side of the Force; among his evil deeds, he kills Luke's wife Mara Jade as a sacrifice to join the Sith. The story parallels the fallen son of Han and Leia, Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, in the 2015 film The Force Awakens. Three series were introduced for younger audiences: the 18-book Jedi Apprentice (1999–2002) chronicles the adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobi and his master Qui-Gon Jinn in the years before The Phantom Menace; the 11-book Jedi Quest (2001–2004) follows Obi-Wan and his own apprentice, Anakin Skywalker in between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones; and the 10-book The Last of the Jedi (2005–2008), set almost immediately after Revenge of the Sith, features Obi-Wan and the last few surviving Jedi.
Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber, released in January 2014, was the last Star Wars novel published before Lucasfilm announced the creation of the Star Wars Legends brand.
Marvel Comics published a Star Wars comic book series from 1977 to 1986. Original Star Wars comics were also serialized in the Marvel magazine Pizzazz between 1977 and 1979. The 1977 installments were the first original Star Wars stories not directly adapted from the films to appear in print form, as they preceded those of the Star Wars comic series. From 1985–1987, the animated children's series Ewoks and Droids inspired comic series from Marvel's Star Comics line.
In the late 1980s, Marvel dropped a new Star Wars comic it had in development, which was picked up by Dark Horse Comics and published as the popular Dark Empire sequence (1991–1995). Dark Horse subsequently launched dozens of series set after the original film trilogy, including Tales of the Jedi (1993–1998), X-wing Rogue Squadron (1995–1998), Star Wars: Republic (1998–2006), Star Wars Tales (1999–2005), Star Wars: Empire (2002–2006), and Knights of the Old Republic (2006–2010).
After Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, it was announced in January 2014 that in 2015 the Star Wars comics license would return to Marvel Comics, whose parent company, Marvel Entertainment, Disney had purchased in 2009. Launched in 2015, the first three publications in were titled Star Wars, Star Wars: Darth Vader, and the limited series Star Wars: Princess Leia.
The first official licensed Star Wars electronic game was Kenner's 1979 table-top Star Wars Electronic Battle Command. The first licensed Star Wars video game was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, published in 1982 for the Atari 2600 by Parker Brothers. Atari's 1983 rail shooter arcade game Star Wars was based on the 1977 film and used vector graphics. The next game, Return of the Jedi (1984), was based on the third film and used more traditional raster graphics. The third game, The Empire Strikes Back (1985), was a remake of the first game and based on the second movie.
In 1993, LucasArts released its first Star Wars video game and first space flight simulation game, Star Wars: X-Wing, after publishing several World War II flight combat games. X-Wing was one of the best-selling games of 1993, and established its own series of games.
Released in 1995, Dark Forces was the first Star Wars first-person shooter video game. A hybrid adventure game incorporating puzzles and strategy, it also featured new gameplay features and graphical elements not then common in other games, made possible by LucasArts' custom-designed game engine, called the Jedi. The game was well received and well reviewed, and was followed by four sequels. Dark Forces introduced the popular character Kyle Katarn, who would later appear in multiple games, novels, and comics. Katarn is a former Imperial stormtrooper who joins the Rebellion and ultimately becomes a Jedi, a plot arc similar to that of Finn in the 2015 film The Force Awakens.Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (1996) is a Lucasfilm multimedia project set in the as-yet-unexplored time period between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that included a novel by Steve Perry, a comic book series, a video game, and toys.The Force Unleashed (2008–2010) is a similar project, set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, that includes a 2008 novel, a 2008 video game and its 2010 sequel, a graphic novel, a role-playing game supplement, and action figures.
Radio and audio drama
A 13-episode radio adaptation of the original 1977 film written by science fiction author Brian Daley and directed by John Madden was first broadcast on National Public Radio in 1981. Lucas, a fan of the NPR-affiliated campus radio station at his alma mater the University of Southern California, licensed the Star Wars radio rights to KUSC-FM for US$1. Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels reprised their roles from the film. The production used John Williams' original score from the films and Ben Burtt sound designs from the film. The broadcast was an overwhelming success, and a 10-episode adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back followed in 1982, with Hamill and Daniels joined by Billy Dee Williams. Return of the Jedi was adapted into six episodes in 1996, featuring Daniels.
In 1983, Buena Vista Records released an original, 30-minute Star Wars audio drama titled Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell, written by Daley. In the 1990s, Time Warner Audio Publishing adapted several Star Wars series from Dark Horse Comics into audio dramas: the three-part Dark Empire saga, Tales of the Jedi, Dark Lords of the Sith, the Dark Forces trilogy, and Crimson Empire (1998).
Before Disney's acquisition of the franchise, George Lucas had established a partnership in 1986 with the company's Imagineering division to create an attraction at Disney parks. The first such attraction, Star Tours, opened at Disneyland in 1987, with several versions opening at other Disney theme parks over the following years. The Star Tours rides at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios closed in 2010, while Tokyo Disneyland's version closed in 2012 and Disneyland Paris' in 2016. All of the original Star Tours rides were then refurbished into Star Tours–The Adventures Continue. The new attraction randomly shuffles several scenes, allowing up to 54 combinations of different adventures. The successor attraction opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland in 2011, at Tokyo Disneyland in 2013, and at Disneyland Paris in 2017.
From 1997 to 2015, Disney's Hollywood Studios park hosted Star Wars Weekends, an annual festival, during specific dates from May to June. Since 2007, the parks include the live show Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, where children are selected to learn the teachings of the Jedi Knights and the Force to become Padawan learners; the show is present at Disney's Hollywood Studios and at the Tomorrowland Terrace at Disneyland. Since November 2015, Disneyland hosts a seasonal Star Wars-themed event entitled Season of the Force, which also runs in Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. An exhibition called Star Wars Launch Bay, featuring exhibits and meet-and-greets was also added.
Disney, which now owns the Star Wars franchise, expressed plans to expand the franchise's presence in all of their theme parks since August 2014. At that time, there were rumors to include a major Star Wars-themed expansion to Disney's Hollywood Studios. When asked whether or not Disney has an intellectual property franchise that's comparable to Harry Potter at Universal theme parks, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger mentioned Cars, Disney Princesses, and promised that Star Wars, "is going to be just that." Iger formally announced a 14-acre Star Wars-themed land expansion at the 2015 D23 Expo. In the 2017 D23, it was revealed that the area would be named Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. The area will debut at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios at an unspecified date—will include two new attractions inspired by the Millennium Falcon and "a climactic battle between the First Order and the resistance". A Star Wars-themed hotel, a deluxe resort to be built near Disney's Hollywood Studios, was also announced at the 2017 D23 Expo.
The success of the Star Wars films led the franchise to become one of the most merchandised franchises in the world. In 1977, while filming the original film, George Lucas decided to take a 500,000-dollar pay-cut to his own salary as director, in exchange for fully owning the merchandising rights of the franchise to himself. Over the franchise's lifetime, such exchange cost 20th Century Fox, more than US$20 billion in merchandising revenue profits. Disney acquired the merchandising rights when part of purchasing Lucasfilm.
Kenner made the first Star Wars action figures to coincide with the release of the film, and today the remaining 80's figures sell at extremely high prices in auctions. Since the 90's Hasbro holds the rights to create action figures based on the saga. Pez dispensers have been produced. Star Wars was the first intellectual property to be licensed in Lego Group history, which has produced a Star Wars Lego theme. Lego has produced animated parody short films to promote their sets, among them Revenge of the Brick (2005) and The Quest for R2-D2 (2009), the former parodies Revenge of the Sith, while the later The Clone Wars film. Due to their success, LEGO created animated comedy mini-series among them The Yoda Chronicles (2013-2014) and Droid Tales (2015) originally airing on Cartoon Network, but since 2014 moved into Disney XD. The Lego Star Wars video games are critically acclaimed best sellers.
In 1977 with the board game Star Wars: Escape from the Death Star (not to be confused with another board game with the same title, published in 1990). The board game Risk has been adapted to the series in two editions by Hasbro: and Star Wars Risk: The Clone Wars Edition (2005) and Risk: Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition (2006).
Three different official tabletop role-playing games have been developed for the Star Wars universe: a version by West End Games in the 1980s and 1990s, one by Wizards of the Coast in the 2000s, and one by Fantasy Flight Games in the 2010s.
Star Wars trading cards have been published since the first "blue" series, by Topps, in 1977. Dozens of series have been produced, with Topps being the licensed creator in the United States. Some of the card series are of film stills, while others are original art. Many of the cards have become highly collectible with some very rare "promos", such as the 1993 Galaxy Series II "floating Yoda" P3 card often commanding US$1 000 or more. While most "base" or "common card" sets are plentiful, many "insert" or "chase cards" are very rare. From 1995 until 2001, Decipher, Inc. had the license for, created and produced a collectible card game based on Star Wars; the Star Wars Collectible Card Game (also known as SWCCG).
Themes, comparisons and influences on other franchises
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 Revenge of the Sith is modeled after the fall of the democratic Roman Republic and the formation of an empire.
The stormtroopers from the movies share a name with the Nazi stormtroopers (see also Sturmabteilung). Imperial officers' uniforms also resemble some historical German Army uniforms (see Wehrmacht) and the political and security officers of the Empire resemble the black clad SS down to the imitation silver death's head insignia on their officer's caps. World War II terms were used for names in Star Wars; examples include the planets Kessel (a term that refers to a group of encircled forces), Hoth (Hermann Hoth was a German general who served on the snow laden Eastern Front), and Tatooine (Tataouine - a province south of Tunis in Tunisia, roughly where Lucas filmed for the planet; Libya was a WWII arena of war). Palpatine being Chancellor before becoming Emperor mirrors Adolf Hitler's role as Chancellor before appointing himself Dictator. The Great Jedi Purge alludes to the events of The Holocaust, the Great Purge, the Cultural Revolution, and the Night of the Long Knives. In addition, Lucas himself has drawn parallels between Palpatine and his rise to power to historical dictators such as Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Adolf Hitler. The final medal awarding scene in A New Hope, however, references Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. The space battles in A New Hope were based on filmed World War I and World War II dogfights.
Continuing the use of Nazi inspiration for the Empire, J. J. Abrams, the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has said that the First Order, an Imperial offshoot which will possibly serve as the main antagonist of the sequel trilogy, is also inspired by another aspect of the Nazi regime. Abrams spoke of how several Nazis fled to Argentina after the war and he claims that the concept for the First Order came from conversations between the scriptwriters about what would have happened if they had started working together again.
The Star Wars saga has had a significant impact on modern popular culture. Star Wars references are deeply embedded in popular culture; Phrases like "evil empire" and "May the Force be with you" have become part of the popular lexicon. The first Star Wars film in 1977 was a cultural unifier, enjoyed by a wide spectrum of people. The film can be said to have helped launch the science fiction boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s, making science fiction films a blockbuster genre or mainstream. This very impact also made it a prime target for parody works and homages, with popular examples including Spaceballs, Family Guy's Laugh It Up, Fuzzball, Robot Chicken's "Star Wars Episode I", "Star Wars Episode II" and "Star Wars Episode III", and Hardware Wars by Ernie Fosselius.
In 1989, the Library of Congress selected the original Star Wars film for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, was selected in 2010. Despite these callings for archival, it is unclear whether copies of the 1977 and 1980 theatrical sequences of Star Wars and Empire—or copies of the 1997 Special Edition versions—have been archived by the NFR, or indeed if any copy has been provided by Lucasfilm and accepted by the Registry.
The Star Wars saga has inspired many fans to create their own non-canon material set in the Star Wars galaxy. In recent years, this has ranged from writing fan-fiction to creating fan films. In 2002, Lucasfilm sponsored the first annual Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards, officially recognizing filmmakers and the genre. Because of concerns over potential copyright and trademark issues, however, the contest was initially open only to parodies, mockumentaries, and documentaries. Fan-fiction films set in the Star Wars universe were originally ineligible, but in 2007 Lucasfilm changed the submission standards to allow in-universe fiction entries. Lucasfilm, for the most part, has allowed but not endorsed the creation of these derivative fan-fiction works, so long as no such work attempts to make a profit from or tarnish the Star Wars franchise in any way. While many fan films have used elements from the licensed Expanded Universe to tell their story, they are not considered an official part of the Star Wars canon.