For upcoming ‘Star Wars’ 7, sky’s the limit

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For upcoming ‘Star Wars’ 7, sky’s the limit

LOS ANGELES - Darth Vader is dead. The evil emperor exploded after being thrown down a shaft. And Luke Skywalker and his allies destroyed both Death Stars, restoring balance to the Force. For The Walt Disney Company, the prospective new owner of the “Star Wars’’ franchise, what’s left to tell? A lot, apparently.

More than 110 novels and 80 comic books are set after the events of “Return of the Jedi,’’ the sixth episode in the film series and third to be made. All were sanctioned by Lucasfilm, founded by George Lucas.

That has left a lot of room for speculation since Disney said last month it would buy Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion and resume making “Star Wars’’ movies, starting with Episode 7 in 2015.

For fans, some big questions remain. Will Luke take on a Jedi apprentice? Will Han Solo and Princess Leia have kids? And who will be the movies’ villain? (A) A revived emperor; (B) the hard-to-kill bounty hunter Boba Fett; (C) some new corrupt leader of the remnants of the Empire or (D) all of the above?

Each of these scenarios has been explored in some fashion away from the big screen. “Right now, everyone is literally just reading tea leaves,’’ said Bryan Young, “Star Wars’’ watcher and editor of the Big Shiny Robot blog.

The facts so far about the announced Episodes 7, 8 and 9 are scant: Lucas will be a creative consultant, but won’t direct the films. Kathleen Kennedy will produce them as president of Lucasfilm. And Oscar-winning writer Michael Arndt of “Little Miss Sunshine’’ and “Toy Story 3’’ will do the screenplay for Episode 7.

One of the most telling clues as to the next trilogy’s direction, according to Young, is the fact that Lucas invited Luke actor Mark Hamill and Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher to lunch some time ago to tell them the sequels were going to be made, a reversal of his denials over the years.

Hamill talked about the lunch with Entertainment Weekly, saying he also spoke with Lucas about three weeks before the Disney announcement and just missed a call from him the day the deal was made public on Oct. 30.

That suggests that Luke and on-screen sister Leia will be involved in some way in the sequel. After all, their characters are the last members of the Skywalker family and the most potent wielders of the Force.

But if there were no surprises, the adventure just wouldn’t be the same. “Almost anything is possible,’’ said Jay Shepard, a contents editor at fan site TheForce.net. “But I don’t believe it will be any type of plotline we’ve already seen.’’

AP

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