It's been well documented that once Disney bought Lucasfilm, George Lucas was no longer in control of steering the Star Wars universe. Producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is instead overseeing the sequels and standalone Star Wars movies that are on the horizon. But she's now acknowledged that George Lucas was the one who originally sparked the idea of exploring the universe in more detail with a batch of spinoff films.
Kathleen Kennedy made this admission to Entertainment Weekly, revealing that this popped up during a conversation that she held with the Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope and American Graffiti director when she became the president of Lucasfilm, as well as the brand manager of the Star Wars franchise, after The Walt Disney Company had bought for $4 billion back in October, 2012. Kennedy explained:
Unfortunately for George Lucas, shortly after he sold Lucasfilm, his ideas for where to take the Star Wars universe were rejected by Disney. They instead brought on J.J. Abrams to re-launch the series with last December's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rian Johnson and Colin Trevorrow to direct Star Wars: Episode VIII and Star Wars: Episode IX, respectively. Spinoff-wise, Gareth Edwards was hired to direct Rogue One and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were hired for the Han Solo spin-off.
At the moment, all attention is firmly on Rogue One, though, as it's now rather excitingly less than a month away from release. Led by the Academy Award-nominated actress Felicity Jones (The Theory Of Everything), who plays Jyn Erso, Rogue One revolves around the Rebel Alliance trying to stop the Galactic Empire from building their brand new super weapon known as the Death Star.
The release and success of Rogue One, which is directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) from a Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy script, will dictate just how many more standalone Star Wars films follow it. Rogue One will almost certainly dominate the box office over the last few weeks of December, but it will be interesting to see its longevity as we go into 2017. This is something that the studio are well aware of, as back in September, Disney CEO Bob Iger admitted that Rogue One was "an experiment, of sorts."
The big question is whether audiences will be eager to see a Star Wars film that's not connected to the Skywalker saga. We'll finally get to see if that's the case when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is finally released on December 16.