BTS The Sequel Trilogy That Never Was: Episodes VII-IX: The Historical Record

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Darth_Nub, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus

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    Apr 26, 2009
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    Thought I'd start a thread to discuss the actual Sequel Trilogy that George Lucas once intended to make, as opposed to just speculating wildly about what could come next, or what would be good ideas for future Star Wars films.

    There's probably more misinformation out there than actual facts about these episodes, the most extreme coming from George Lucas himself, who now denies that he ever planned another trilogy at all.
    In The Secret History Of Star Wars, zombie does a thorough job of assembling what little is known & debunking the more common myths, & he does speculate somewhat as to what might have happened, but given the miniscule amount of information there is, he does resist the temptation to degenerate into sheer speculation beyond a few logical assumptions. However, I think there's room to make some further educated guesses & a few informed leaps regarding what Episodes VII-IX would have been about.

    In a nutshell, here's what we do know:

    "There are essentially nine films in a series of three trilogies. The first trilogy is about the young Ben Kenobi and the early life of Luke's father when Luke was a little boy. This trilogy takes place some twenty years before the second trilogy which includes Star Wars and Empire. About a year or two passes between each story of the trilogy and about twenty years pass between the trilogies. The entire saga spans about fifty-five years... I won't say who survives and who doesn't, but if we are ever able to link togther all three, you'd find the story progresses in a very logical fashion."

    - George Lucas to Alan Arnold, 1979, Once Upon A Galaxy

    The last three episodes involve the rebuilding of the Republic.
    Only two of the main characters will appear in all nine films, & they are the robots, Artoo-Detoo & Threepio. Says Lucas: "In effect, the story will be told through their eyes."


    - Time Magazine, May 1980

    "There are six hours of events before Star Wars, & in those six hours the 'Other' becomes apparent, & after the third film the 'Other' becomes apparent quite a bit."

    - George Lucas to Rolling Stone, June 1980

    The sequels, the three films that would follow Jedi, are considerably vaguer. Their main theme will be the necessity for moral choices & the wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong.

    - Time Magazine, May 1983

    But he has only a vague notion of what will happen in the three films of the sequel? In the sequel Luke would be a sixty-year-old Jedi knight. Han Solo and Leia would be together? The sequel focuses mainly on Luke, and Lucas says Mark Hamill will have first crack at the part if he is old enough. "If the first trilogy is social and political and talks about how society evolves," Lucas says, "Star Wars is more about personal growth and self realization, and the third deals with moral and philosophical problems... The sequel is about Jedi knighthood, justice, confrontation, and passing on what you have learned."

    - George Lucas to Denise Worrell, 1983, ICONS: Intimate Portraits

    There's other bits & pieces, various issues & controversy, & I've got vague ideas about what the ST may have included, but I'll stop there for the time being. Any thoughts?
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  2. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    In one of the DVD commentaries, he also says that the Senate comes back ( not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, I know ).
  3. T-R- Chosen One

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    Aug 13, 2003
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    The title should be changed to "the trilogy that might not be: episodes vii-ix" since there is a possibility (however small) that they will be made.

    Getting back to your premise, as I stated in the other thread, there was also mention in an old interview that at the end of IX it jumps forward in time to the droids telling the story to children.
  4. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    The sequels, the three films that would follow Jedi, are considerably vaguer. Their main theme will be the necessity for moral choices & the wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong.

    I'd say that got more or less covered in the prequels, myself.
  5. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    I would say so too. I think some of the ideas Lucas wanted to explore got carried over into the prequels, like this.

    Also, it should be kept in mind that there are basically two configurations of the ST: the original conception circa 1979, and then the one that is best known from 1983 but might have been talked about as far back as 1980. The difference is character-based. In the original conception, it takes place twenty years in the future and would seem to involve "Another" hope, as Yoda intones in ESB. When Lucas decided he wasn't interested in new films, he put Leia as this character in ROTJ, and started talking about "Reuniting" the aged original cast when they are sixty (not forty) as more of a gimmick, even though some thematic and plot elements still carried over. Most sequel trilogy comments are in regards to this version, but Darth_Nub has done a good job at compiling some older ones that pre-date it.

    So the original sequel trilogy will definitely never happen. The 1983 sequel trilogy was used as a substitute, but I don't think Lucas was ever really that interested in it. Part of me thinks he was simply too proud to admit that large parts of the storyline had dissolved in the post-ESB years but didn't want to take back his word about new films (possibly for business reasons as well), so he came up with some way of still claiming to have newer stories down the road.
  6. Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus

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    Specifically, I'm referring to the Episodes VII-IX that GL originally envisioned in 1979, which I believe don't exist anymore (developments in ROTJ & the PT have rendered them redundant) & therefore, won't ever be made.

    The post-1983 'reunion' ST concept that zombie brought up is something that could possibly happen, but I agree with zombie's stance, in that it wasn't something GL ever took particularly seriously, & although it may have been described as following similar thematic lines to his original vision for the ST, it would have been more of an addition to the OT, as opposed to the separate trilogy in its own right originally described.

    This has come up in a few threads - where & when is it from?


    One more tidbit:

    SW: What is the third trilogy about?
    GL: It deals with the character who survives Star Wars III & his adventures


    - George Lucas to Bantha Tracks, Spring 1980

    (Star Wars III referring to the third film, i.e. Revenge/Return Of The Jedi)
  7. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    Thank you for that clarification. I don't think I could handle another wave of "Mace Windu is still ALIVE!" theories.:p
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  8. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    I think a lot of thematic elements Lucas might have explored in a ST were rolled into the prequels.

    It might have included actual character-types as well as designs and certain types of armies, like droid armies, etc.

  9. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    I remember Lucas saying that all nine films would be told from the POV of the droids. But the 3PO telling stories to children is something I've also heard about. But darn if I know from where.
  10. zombie Force Ghost

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    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    I think its probably a fan extrapolation based on a reading of the "storytelling" scene on Endor in ROTJ and the fact that Lucas has said, only half-seriously I think, that R2D2 conveys the story of the Saga to the keeper of the Journal of the Whills many years after and this is how the story is passed down/recorded (and, presumably, finds its way to us), sort of a LOTR type thing.
  11. Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus

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    I agree - as it's been pointed out, the PT covered the themes of "the necessity for moral choices & the wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong."
    The PT we were eventually delivered was, no doubt, very different from what GL originally had in mind - for a start, the main character was Anakin Skywalker, as opposed to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

    I also do believe that actual characters & designs in the PT may have originally been slated for the ST. Pure speculation, but a character like Count Dooku - radical, charismatic politician opposed to the rebuilding of the corrupt Republic, in truth a Sith Lord - may have been a part of the ST.

    ROTJ was responsible for eliminating the mysterious 'Other', other plot developments in the PT could easily have done the same - the Sith 'Rule Of Two', for example, effectively killed any other Sith Lords who may have been elsewhere in the galaxy, & could have turned up in the ST. What little information there is regarding the Sith at the OT does seem to suggest that Vader wasn't the only one (Palpatine isn't necessarily a 'Sith').

    Something else that occurred to me, which ties into Keiran's thread about how 'ESB messed up the meaning of Star Wars' - the nine film saga (1978-79 version) in GL's mind would have carried on in the spirit of SW/ANH, as opposed to being something better represented by Empire. Each trilogy may have been different in tone, as GL stated, but they would still have been closer in style, pace & depth to ANH than ESB.
    This is simply based on the timing - GL came up with the nine-film plan between ANH & ESB - making Empire was a nightmare for him, it turned out quite differently to how he wanted, & as a result he decided to just finish the OT off with ROTJ, kill off the ST, & put any plans for the PT on indefinite hiatus.

    It's very difficult, & almost eerie trying to get a handle on the actual ST that everyone has heard of, but no one really knows much about. It's best summed up by one of the most interesting statements in The Secret History Of Star Wars:

    As infamous as it was, the Sequel Trilogy only existed in 1979 & early 1980, & possibly 1978.
  12. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    That's probable, but I would be slightly careful here--if indeed the sequel films were to be more interospective than the OT and centring around moral ambiguity, they would probably end up more like ROTJ than ANH. That is, it has some of the levity and coarser construction of ANH but also the emotional gravity and more adult thematic elements of ESB, which is basically what ROTJ ended up balancing. It also depends on who is doing the writing and directing--the PT, essentially a dark greek tragedy, turned into a pretty swiftyly-developed homage to B-movies whose entire first film is a children's romp; no doubt, if Lucas wrote and directed the ST it would end up with similar characteristics. But with other writers and directors at the helm, we would probably end up with something more akin to a ROTJ in how the subject matter is portrayed (which is to say, many of those aforementioned characteristics, but tempered with a more sophisticated hand in bringing them to the screen). Who knows, we may have ended up with something more adult than ESB. It's hard to say how dynamics would play out with such open-ended alternate timelines.


    What's even more interesting is that I'm being very generous with our level of certainty here. Probably a more accurate statement would be "As infamous as it was, the Sequel Trilogy only existed in 1979, & possibly 1978 and early 1980."

    We can know that Lucas must have been for real when he first unveiled such plans in 1979 conversations with Alan Arnold (otherwise why unveil them in the first place? Everything followed from him stating these plans), but we don't know, really, when that plan began and when it ended. I'm guessing it formulated when the screenplay was finished in 1978 (which set up the Other, etc.), and I'm guessing when they went public with the 9-trilogy announcement in early 1980 they were sincere as well, since, if this wasn't the case then they would just not state it in the first place. At the same time, Lucas may have been undecided and didn't want to speak too soon, and he continued to do this anyway when the plan had been changed only a few months later, so for all we know he may have tossed aside the ST a couple weeks after his 1979 statements as he watched ESB's production continue to sap his strength and resources. I think late 1978-early 1980 is pretty reasonable based on an analysis of the situation, but in the end its amazing to realise how little concrete info we actually have. The only statements that can be taken at total face value are those 1979 statements, in fact.
  13. T-R- Chosen One

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    Aug 13, 2003
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    It is not a fan extrapolation as it appeared in an interview from the early 80's that I found at the library on microfilm in the mid-90's. Not to mention that the Whills thing came out post 2005.

    No offense, but I think we know that most of this conjecture is pretty much not true. We know that Lucas gave interviews post 1980, post 1983's Jedi release, and right up until the mid-late 90's where he continued to elaborate and mention 7-9.

    So, I think the more accurate statement would be "the ST existed up until the development of the PT, and possibly still exists in GL's mind."
  14. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    1) While I don't accuse you of making this up, a 15-year-old memory of a 25-year-old microfilm without a specific citation is incredibly vague.
    2)The Whills thing was most definitely not post-2005. The comment he made about R2 and the Whills, for example, was uttered in 2003 (while making ROTS, no less).

    The ST as first proposed by Lucas, no actually, it did not survive the production of Return of the Jedi as far as evidence suggests. As was explained before, there are actually two sequel trilogy configurations, and the one that was first announced dissolved some time during the lead-up to making ROTJ. The version talked about during and since the time of ROTJ seems to use some of the same elements, but has a different focus and time period; however, this version is slightly half-hearted, hence the genuine ST was only the original one, and only existed for sure in 1979, but probably was in place from late 1978 to early 1980.
  15. ebamf Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2009
    star 1
    it's simple, lucas will wait until 2017 (forty years after a new hope, which luke skywalker would be about sixty if we do the indiana jones age application here).
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  16. T-R- Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2003
    star 4
    1.) You did accuse me of "fan extrapolation", which meanse made it up. I'll try to find the interview copy I printed from the library. In the meantime, it is interesting to note that ShaneP remembers it as well. It's funny that a 15 year old memory is questioned but Kutz's 30 year old memory is taken as gospel by some.
    2.) I know it was uttered by GL in 2003 during filming, but it didn't see the light of day until 2005's Making of RotS book, which is when we heard about it. Either way, '03 or '05, it was after the mid-90's which was my point and why your "fan extrapolation" theory is invalid.

    As was explained before, the only evidence for 2 configurations of the ST is Kurtz's recollection of it, which is at odds with what GL has said over the years. Everything GL has said has been fairly consistent, evidence that suggests HIS ST was intact post ESB and RotJ. You can take Kurtz's word for it, but I'll stick with Lucas' statements over the years regarding the ST. Any attempt to call it half-hearted is ridiculous.

    One thing that is used to support 2 different versions of a ST is "the other" being the sister from the other side of the galaxy and appearing in the ST. While that may have been discussed, as was Vader not being Anakin or Luke killing Vader or the ghosts regaining corporeal form, it was only a discussion during the writing process. The OP of this thread proves that as of 1980 the other would be revealed in RotJ according to Lucas:

    "There are six hours of events before Star Wars, & in those six hours the 'Other' becomes apparent, & after the third film the 'Other' becomes apparent quite a bit."

    - George Lucas to Rolling Stone, June 1980


    There you have it. The other becomes apparent after the 3rd film, which is exactly what we got.
  17. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    Not by me--I devoted a whole appendix in the book I wrote on the subject to questioning his statements. As for "fan extrapolation", that was before you said you specifically went to the library and saw it in a specific interview, because many people just throw around statements like that as stuff they heard from someone else, and other vague sentiments like that. If you can find the interview, I would be very interested in reading it.

    The Whills, and the Whills telling the story of SW, has been known for years and years by now though, for instance in Annotated Screenplays (although there the droids aren't attached IIRC).

    Kurtz has little to do with it--I've never envoked his statements here or elsewhere, except that they contain elements of the original plot. Looking at what Lucas says, there are clearly two sets of trilogies, in fact one takes place 40 years in the future and the original one takes place 20.

    It's not anything to do with Kurtz, so I don't know where you get that from. As for statements of Lucas, even he says that it was the press who suggested it and he "played into it", and that he "never had an idea" and that "the media invente it." Any talk of the ST existing has to be both selective and critical of statements of Lucas in one way or another.

    I don't know why you are putting words in my mouth, since I never brought this up. Indeed, the sister had no place in any sequel trilogy proper--though she was at one point earlier part of the franchise, in late 1977 and probably early 1978, when the series was un-numbered/infinite and then numbered at 12 episodes. Kurtz is apparently fusing these two story configurations.

    As I said, the sequel trilogy dissolved by early 1980, when that statement was made, and possibly could been dissolved as early as late 1979. What he says h
  18. Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus

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  19. zombie Force Ghost

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  20. Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus

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    Hmm...

    There's something about the phrasing that does make me think he's still referring to someone else, but that's probably me wanting him to be doing that - it would indicate that there's a ST more fleshed out than it actually is.

    Nope, all of your reasoning does make sense - the Bantha Tracks quote about "the character who survives Star Wars III & his adventures" is probably about Luke after all, but although it was published in May 1980, I'm not sure when GL actually said it. It's a strange quote, even taking into account not wanting to spoil the ending of ROTJ, I can understand why many took it to mean a new character altogether. Which it still could, but there's nothing else to support the idea, other than the existence of the Other that Yoda mentions in ESB.

    I suppose saying "after the third film, the Other becomes apparent quite a bit", as opposed to "in the third film" is more a slip of the tongue - GL could hardly have expected to have the syntax of a throwaway comment being picked apart 19 years later. I'm still more inclined to think that the 'third film' refers to ROTJ, not Episode III. (EDIT: Actually, I'm not sure either way)

    If we can assume that what you've laid out is true, & that when he did make those quotes, the ST focused on Luke, & Leia was the Other, it indicates that the original ST was effectively abandoned by 1980. However, it does also perhaps suggest that his plans for the 'reunion' version of the ST were a bit more serious at that time.

    Just clarify for me though - when was the earliest draft of ROTJ with Leia as sister written?
  21. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    T-R, there were two distinct "sequel eras". One was the ANH pre-ESB era in which Lucas envisioned a SW serial type series and so on. That changed once ESB changed the direction of the story.
    The second era was the "post-ROTJ era" in which Lucas envisioned a "reunion-type" sequel trilogy in which all the original cast members were brought back and passed on their learning to a new generation.
    The first era is the topic of this thread.
  22. oierem Force Ghost

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    Mar 18, 2009
    star 3
    Actually, according to zombie, there were three "sequel eras". The second one was concieved during the writing of Empire and was changed again for the time Lucas started making Jedi. The second era is the topic of this thread.
  23. Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus

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    Actually, you can identify a couple more models/eras dreamt up for the SW Saga once it was decided there would be more than 1 film (the years are just rough approximations):


    1. 1976-1977, pre-release of film - 3 chapters, of which SW was the first. GL & Alan Dean Foster discussed writing two further stories to be published as books, with slim chance of making them as low-budget films should SW not be a colossal failure at the box office. The first sequel, Splinter Of The Mind's Eye, was completed as a novel & published, however, this model was abandoned after the huge success of SW in favour of the more ambitious saga plan.

    2. 1977-1979 - post-release of SW, pre-production of ESB - continuous, open-ended series of films, not necessarily following chronological order, similar in pattern to the James Bond series. Initially an indefinite number of episodes, later decided to be set at 12. Future episodes may have dealt with plotlines such as the adventures of a young Ben Kenobi or the formation of the Jedi Order.

    3. 1978-1980 - 9 episode saga, made up of three distinct trilogies, spanning roughly 55 years, of which Star Wars (now re-named A New Hope) is Episode IV. Approximately twenty years pass between each trilogy.
    The first trilogy, Eps I-III, to be made after the current trilogy is completed, deals with the early days of Obi-Wan Kenobi & Luke's father, who will fall to the dark side & become Darth Vader, set against the backdrop of the fall of the Galactic Republic. The current trilogy, Eps IV-VI, follows the struggle of the Rebellion against the evil Galactic Empire. The third trilogy, Eps VII-IX, to be made after the completion of the prequel trilogy, will most likely follow a separate group of characters, with brief appearances from the likes of Luke Skywalker, passing on the torch to a new generation of heroes, one of which is most likely the 'Other' mentioned by Yoda in ESB. No specific plot details are revealed.

    4. 1980-1995 - 9 episode saga, similar to previous model outlined, except that the third trilogy will instead follow the characters from the current trilogy (Eps IV-VI), approximately 40 years after Episode VI. The Other is revealed to be Princess Leia, Luke's sister. Plot details for the sequel trilogy do emerge, indicating that the storyline will follow the rebuilding of the Republic, & will deal with moral & philosophical issues, the nature of Jedi Knighthood & passing on knowledge.

    5. 1995-present - 6 film saga, prequel trilogy made as films, sequel trilogy of Eps VII-IX abandoned. Saga is reworked so that the six episodes follow a continuous narrative arc (rather than three distinct trilogies), with the rise, fall & redemption of Anakin Skywalker the primary focus, rendering episodes beyond Episode VI unnecessary & redundant. By all indications, any further features to be made in the SW galaxy will not be considered parts of the episodic 'saga'. GL does indicate the theoretical possibility of a future film about the "Old, Old Republic".


    Basically, I think the topic of this thread is both models 3 & 4, because they're the only ones where there actually were further storylines planned, however vaguely, & although they're different, they are somewhat intertwined. Most of the information about Eps VII-IX that's been revealed was stated in relation to the 'renuion' model, following an aged OT cast, however, I do agree with zombie, this information can be fairly assumed to also relate to the earlier model following a different character.
  24. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    As far as timelines, I would put it like this

    1975-1977: SW, plus two sequel novels by Alan Dean Foster, possibly to be adapted to film. This appeared very late in 1975 and dissolved when SW became huge. But these were tentative as films to begin with in the first place.
    1977: Open-ended franchise involving different timelines, characters, etc., that had no numeric designation.
    1978: 12 episode Adventures of Luke Skywalker
    1979: 9 episodes with 3 trilogies. This could have possibly been in place in late 1978 (with the fourth draft) but its impossible to know, as it only first appears in 1979.
    1980-1999: 9 episodes with a modified ST involving the aged original cast. The first instance of Lucas saying "no" to the sequel trilogy is mid-1999, and even Rick McCallum and Steven Spielberg stated early that year that Lucas' saga was three trilogies.
  25. Darth_Nub Manager Emeritus

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    Like I said, the years I mentioned are pretty rough, & what's even more confusing is that these 'eras' overlap - as you yourself pointed out, the 12 film model was still being mentioned in Bantha Tracks while GL was talking about the 9-film saga in the press. Both models are also mentioned in Once Upon A Galaxy, too.

    Although the ST was still being mentioned as late as 1999 by Spielberg & McCallum, I think it was finally buried by GL once he started writing the prequels & took a completely different approach, which is why I put its time of death at about 1995. It's most likely he'd realistically given up on the idea by the end of the 80's, but he hadn't actually killed it off yet.

    The open-ended serial model & the 12-film Adventures Of Luke Skywalker model I'd consider to be the same thing, they just decided to attach a figure. Despite the statements in Bantha Tracks, GL did not have twelve stories written, & if he had followed this model, he still might have made a couple of films following different characters &/or eras.