Fans of the books, written to sate the appetite for more stories about Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and company following the release of 1983’s Return of the Jedi, had hoped the tales would inform JJ Abrams‘ forthcoming Star Wars: Episode VII and successive films. But a statement by Disney-owned Lucasfilm has ruled out that possibility by declaring that only the six Star Wars feature films and animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series are considered part of the saga’s official canon.
“These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align,” said the statement. “In order to give maximum creative freedom to the film-makers 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.”
The status of the expanded universe books, games and comics within the Star Wars canon has long been something of a grey area. “While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the EU consistent with our film and television content as well as internally consistent, George Lucas always made it clear that he was not beholden to the EU,” the statement added.
However, Lucasfilm said it was not ruling out borrowing from the novels in future, offering at least a sliver of hope to fans of Mara Jade, Jacen Solo and Cade Skywalker. It also issued a new video celebrating the legacy of the expanded universe as fans prepare for the release of Episode VII in December 2015.
Abrams’ film, which is shooting at Pinewood Studios and in the deserts of Abu Dhabi, is tipped to centre on the key trio of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo, played by original stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. Disney is planning a new trilogy of films after purchasing all rights to the space saga in October 2012 for $4.05bn (£2.4bn).
Later movies in the series will move the focus to younger characters, while there are also proposals for spinoff “origins” films featuring characters such as Yoda, Boba Fett and Solo.
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