April 25, 2014 11:26am PT by Graeme McMillan
Lucasfilm Unveils New Plans for 'Star Wars' Expanded Universe (Video)
In an attempt to end months of fan speculation, discussion and concern, Lucasfilm has released a statement about the position of the "Expanded Universe" of the Star Wars franchise in relation to the new movie trilogy.
For those unfamiliar with the term, the Expanded Universe is the official designation for all Star Wars material that has not been produced directly by Lucasfilm, whether it be comic books, novels, video games or any other project. While the official Lucasfilm projects have kept to a relatively short timeframe so far (essentially the lifespan of Anakin Skywalker), material from the Expanded Universe has spanned thousands of years, creating a vast history for the Jedi Knights that reaches beyond the movies in both directions. With much of that content taking place post-Return of the Jedi, fans had wondered whether or not it would be used as canon for the new movie trilogy. Now they have an answer -- and, following recent comments from writer and producer Simon Kinberg, it's an unsurprising "no."
"While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the EU consistent with our film and television content as well as internally consistent, [Franchise creator George Lucas] always made it clear that he was not beholden to the EU," the statement on the official Star Wars website explains, clarifying that the official canon for the franchise consists of the six movies to date, as well as the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series. "These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align," the statement states. The upcoming new animated series Star Wars Rebels is also identified as canon.
It continues, "In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe," adding that elements introduced in the Expanded Universe material remain available for use in the future. Star Wars Rebels will feature concepts that first appeared in role-playing games related to the series in the 1980s, it points out.
Some existing Expanded Universe material will be kept in print, Lucasfilm said, under a freshly established Star Wars Legends banner.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is quoted in the statement as saying that the company has "an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon," referencing not just the new movie series, but also "games, books, comics and new formats that are just emerging." The continuity among these formats will be overseen by a newly formed story group to coordinate the projects' development.
A future prose project from Del Rey Books is mentioned as a result of this coordination, taking place prior to Rebels but offering "insight into a key character's backstory." Written by John Jackson Miller, the novel will feature input from Rebels producers Dave Filoni, Greg Weisman and Simon Kinberg.
The statement was accompanied by a new video from Lucasfilm about the Expanded Universe's history, including commentary from Filoni, Miller and EU author Timothy Zahn. Watch the video below: