They are the words that aspiring Jedi Masters and Sith Lords have dreaded for years: “This is it. We’ve done Episode I through Episode VI and there won’t be anymore films at all. That’s finished.” And judging from the source — Rick McCallum, George Lucas’ right-hand man and the producer of the most recent three episodes of Star Wars — it seems certain that Lucas has laid his fantastically successful 30-year-old film saga to rest.
Yet as Yoda might say: Fear not, young apprentices. The DVD release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith next Tuesday does not mean that the well has gone dry for fanboys and girls clamoring for more of Lucas’ high-tech, kinetic brand of filmmaking.
The next and most obvious step for Lucasfilm is to combine all six DVDs into one box set, replete with bonus goodies like commentaries and documentaries. “We definitely will do a six pack,” McCallum says. “We shot 3,000 hours of documentary footage from the very first day that we started 12 years ago preparing for this trilogy. We’re definitely hoping that once Blu-Ray or HD-DVD [two competing next-generation DVD technologies] becomes a de facto standard in the DVD world that we’ll be able to then have the opportunity to go out and make some really major documentaries about the actual process, the creative process from prop manufacturing to the costume department, like a mini film school.”
The minds behind Star Wars are not, however, solely concerned with repackagings and rereleases. Though his personal involvement may be minimal, Lucas plans to launch a live-action Star Wars TV series within the next few years. “It’s going to be much darker, much edgier, much more character based instead of plot based,” McCallum reveals. “It’s going to be hopefully 100 hours, from the period between Episode III and Episode IV, that 20-year period when Luke is growing up. We’re looking at writers and meeting writers now. We’re just trying to figure out which direction we want to go. We’d like to start shooting in the beginning of 2007.”
For the most part, Star Wars‘ enormous canon will be relegated to the small screen, where TV series and videogames will carry on the legacy of Darth, Luke and Leia. Presently, Lucas has other big-screen plans in the works, most notably the fourth Indiana Jones film. “He’s working on it this week, he meets with Steven Spielberg next week,” McCallum says. “Hopefully they will have got a script that he and Harrison [Ford] and Steven are happy with and then, if that is the case, I don’t think it will be Steven’s next movie, but sometime around 2007 we should be looking for another Indy [movie].”
But big-budget extravaganza films are just a few of the projects on the horizon for Lucas and Lucasfilm. “We just had a major conference last week with 15 Tuskegee Airmen, the original Redtails, this black squadron based out of Alabama. They went to Europe and fought and liberated Berlin and became the most famous squadron pilots at the end of World War II, it’s a really exciting story. That we’re starting now, it isn’t something he would direct but something we’re getting together as a live-action television series, I would hope by 2006.”
“Star Wars is a curse and a blessing,” McCallum decides. “It’s held him up for 30 years, but it’s also been a fantastic opportunity, an incredible story to tell. But I think he wants to get more back to his roots as a young filmmaker and go off and make deeply personal films that nobody wants to see, except him and his family.”