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New Star Wars Films Will Not Plunder The Novels

Expanded universe is off limits... for the movies at least

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Boba Fett crawls from the Sarlacc Pit; Han and Leia have twins; Luke establishes a Jedi Academy; Chewbacca dies; Mara Jade exists. These and many more are plot points we won't be seeing in Star Wars: Episode VII and beyond, according to screenwriter Simon Kinberg. We may be heading back to a galaxy far, far away, but the journey won't take in the expanded universe.

This might seem obvious, but Star Wars' colossal number of tie-in novels, comics and games are much beloved of a hard core of fandom. The expansion began with Timothy Zahn's bestselling trilogy about bad guy Admiral Thrawn back in the '90s (not counting spin-offs from the original films' heyday like the Han Solo and Lando Calrissian books). The novels alone now number in the hundreds, stretching the timeline back 1000 years before the existing films and forwards for decades afterwards.

Many have assumed that their favourite characters and storylines would find their way to the screen in this exciting new era, but, says Kinberg, "For the movies, the canon is the canon, and the canon is the six films that exist. It's all about honouring the movies and telling a new story."

There is a caveat, however. While the films are locked off into their new direction, it seems the rules are less strict for peripheral media like TV animation. In those areas, says Kinberg, the expanded universe is "not off limits, and it's certainly inspiring. I'm working on an animated show, Star Wars: Rebels, that will take inspiration from everywhere."

Matters of canon across the whole franchise seem set to remain fuzzy then, no doubt leading to infinite years of fan chat about how it can all be made to fit together. Have fun with that, guys.

For those to whom the expanded universe is unexplored territory, have a look at Empire's dip into possible future Star Wars plots (which we should probably now re-title). Star Wars: Episode VII, of course, is out on December 18, 2015.

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