In it, the original trilogy occupied Episodes VI, VII, and VIII; a Clone Wars trilogy took up Episodes II, III, and IV, while Episode I was a â€œprelude,â€ Episodes IX through XI were simply left blank â€“ and Episode XII was the â€œconclusion.â€
In 1979, however, Lucas said in an interview on the set of Empire, â€œThe first script was one of six original stories I had written in the form of two trilogies. After the success of Star Wars, I added another trilogy. So now there are nine stories. The original two trilogies were conceived of as six films of which the first film was number four.â€
While in postproduction in early 1980, Lucas used to kick back from time to time with ILM manager Jim Bloom and muse about the bigger story. â€œThe first trilogy is about the young Ben Kenobi and the early life of Lukeâ€™s father when Luke is a little boy,â€ Lucas said. â€œThis trilogy takes place some 20 years before the second trilogy, which includes Star Wars and Empire. About a year or two passes between each story of the trilogy and about 20 years between the trilogies. The entire saga spans about 55 years. Iâ€™m still left with three trilogies of nine films. At two hours each, thatâ€™s about eighteen hours of film!â€
While Empire was originally part of a 12-film plan, by the time it was released, the number had clearly been reduced to nine. â€œThe prequel stories exist â€” where Darth Vader came from, the whole story about Darth and Ben Kenobi â€” and it all takes place before Luke was born,â€ Lucas explained at the time. â€œThe other one â€” what happens to Luke afterward â€” is much more ethereal. I have a tiny notebook full of notes on that. If Iâ€™m really ambitious, I could proceed to figure out what would have happened to Luke.â€
Lucas mentioned these notebooks â€” or one big book â€” to me, a few years ago. I asked if I could see it, but he declined. My feeling is that this big book or these notebooks are private, though Lucas has occasionally sent me via an assistant miscellaneous handwritten notes from the period 1976-1983 to help in the writing of the making-of books.
But two years later while filming Jedi, for many reasons, Lucas was burning out, tired of the whole enterprise: â€œIâ€™m only doing this because I started it and now I have to finish it,â€ he adds. â€œThe next trilogy will be all someone elseâ€™s vision.â€
As of today, Lucas has given his new co-chairman Kathleen Kennedy several ideas and is really going into semi-retirement. Now, in a relatively short time, compared to the decades of speculation, fans will learn the secrets of Episodes VII, VIII and IX. Star Wars has risen again!
Lucasfilm executive editor J. W. Rinzler is the author of The Making of Star Wars and The Complete Making of Indiana Jones. He is now writing The Making of Return of the Jedi (and really looking forward to finishing it) for a fall 2013 release. You can visit jwrinzler.com for more info.