George Lucas, as everyone knows, has said he is formally retiring from making blockbuster movies and preferred to dabble in other things. So when his answer of when there would be 7th, 8th or 9th installment of Star Wars was “Never, I’m retired.” it shouldn’t come as any great shock. But the sensationalist headline is certainly buzzing through the internet like wildfire, even though Lucas never said any such thing according to their video. But never let facts get in the way of a juicy story.
First of all, it’s very hard to go get a straight answer from anybody when you ambush them outside of a restaurant when they are just trying to get to their car. The anger at being interrupted is enough to make someone snap back, but we do believe that Lucas’ reply is a valid one. The only thing is that people often say “never” and wind up changing their mind later on. I think at this point, he thinks more in terms of himself, rather than an outsourced project. But I can imagine if some writer/producer came to him and said “Hey, we’d like to make 7, 8 and 9”, he might be willing to license the rights to do so, as long as he didn’t have to do it himself, much like he does with Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I don’t think it’s that he doesn’t want the story told, as much as he doesn’t want to go through the hassle of what that would entail in his life, especially given how sour he’s become over the movie industry in general.
But the fate of the last three in the nine part saga was always pretty much dead in the water as far as Lucas was concerned. Even before the stress from some fans turning on him because of his artistic choices when it came to the prequels, he had no great plan to do these last three films. I remember an interview when he was asked whether or not he would be doing the nine, and said that he probably wouldn’t live that long. There is also the problem of re-enlisting the actors years later to reprise their roles, which would be difficult, given the age they are now and whether or not they would be willing to jump back into the fray or not. Do we really want to see a 60 year old Luke playing Jedi. I know, Obi Wan was that old and he kicked some pretty good butt, but still…
Star Wars is not dead, will never be dead as long as there are fans to spur it on and people who want to license the franchise to make new content from the extended universe books, to TV shows, to internet spoofs, to cosplay conventions, to theme park rides. And I’m sure that Lucas will have a hand in all of that even if he’s not the steward he once was. So I think we’ll see Star Wars around a long, long time.