Star Wars – The Next Generation

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Illustration by Elsa Schmitz

By Chris Mudd, Eagle Life Writer

Casting is complete and production has nearly begun on the newest episode of one of the highest grossing film franchises of all time. “Star Wars: Episode 7” is the first of three new “Star Wars” films being produced.

Since its original release in 1977, the franchise has earned an estimated $27 billion according to combined box office, DVD and toy sales, as well as video games and books.

With the director behind the latest two “Star Trek” films, J.J. Abrams, at the helm, the profits do not look like they will be slowing down anytime soon.

As “Star Wars” set numerous box office records and changed the film industry with its integration of computer technology and special effects, it has also influenced millions of people since the original release. “I was nine when the first film came out in 1977 and it literally changed my life,” Kevin Decker said, EWU dean of the College of Arts, Letters and Education.

“I was swept away with the epic scope of the adventure depicted in the original films, and I think that fueled my imagination in ways that I still benefit from today in my teaching and writing,” Decker said. “When I run into someone who doesn’t like sci-fi, for example, I feel pity for them because I think they’re missing out on something important about what it means to be human.”

When the first episode of the prequel trilogy was released in 1999, a whole new generation was welcomed into the “Star Wars” fan base. While the prequel films’ quality has been in question ever since, the financial success of the movies is undeniable as “Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” brought in an estimated $9.24 million.

The threat of more bad “Star Wars” movies has some fans on edge. “I didn’t like the prequels very much,” said EWU junior Jonathan Gunderson. “So at first I was really worried, but if they do it right it could be really amazing.”

Decker has worries of his own. “I am worried that what little remains of my childhood idealism about ‘Star Wars’ will be shattered when I see the paunchy, greying versions of Han Solo, Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker. But I didn’t have a problem with paunchy, greying Indiana Jones in the last film — getting older myself, I identified with him.”

Earlier in May, the crew behind “Star Wars” released a statement that nullified all the extended universe novels and stories that took place after the destruction of the Death Star and the demise of the Emperor.

With these developments, and production nearly underway, the future of “Star Wars” is difficult to predict. With the worries established by the prequel trilogy, fans of the franchise await the newest installment with a cautious, albeit hopeful optimism.