This is an open letter to Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilms and Michael Arndt, Screenwriter for Star Wars Episode VII. First off I would like to apologize to the both of you for all of the grief you have received and will receive over the next three years while bringing the newest installment of the Star Wars sage to the big screen.
Some people will look at the treatment you get from outside of fandom and say what is the big deal it is only a movie, but in reality it is more than a movie. As someone who was only six years old when Episode IV A New Hope hit the big screen, the first movie I ever saw in theaters, you have to understand the impact that this saga has had on a generation.
On the release of Episode IV according to legend Francis Ford Coppola advised George Lucas to go into the religion business. And despite George’s best attempts Star Wars has become a religion of mythic proportions. People have fallen in love with the characters and places that make up the star wars universe. They have talked about it and dreamed up how the continuing adventure of their favorite characters have developed over the years.
Ever since Alan Dean Foster wrote ‘Splinter in the Mind’s Eye’ in 1978 the fans of the star wars universe have clamored for more and more the those characters and places. While the original trilogy was under production it gave the fans an outlet, little snippets of what was planned and waiting for them as the movies unfolded. And then the movies stopped. a few additional books were produced to give the fan a little taste of the Star Wars universe. but for the most part the only way to read about the Star Wars universe through the late eighties into the early nineties was to take to the world of fan fiction. There the fandom went and expressed what they wanted to see happen to the characters they loved and held dear to their heart.
Finally in early nineties things began to pick up, Timothy Zahn wrote and release one of the most popular expanded universe novels in the Thrawn Series, which built up excitement from the fan based. Then in 1994 George Lucas announce that he would begin work on Episode I. This made fan excitement hit a fever pitch. Speculation of what would be in the new Star Wars movies. People who had already waited for over a decade began to theorize what they would do. They imagined a huge grand series of films bigger and better than the originals. After a five-year wait with little trickles of information to hold them the fan finally had the release of Episode I The Phantom Menace, and the fandom went insane. The complained that the characters were too silly, the story too small for the huge characters they wanted. But more than anything it wasn’t what THEY had dreamed it would be. after ten years of thinking and dreaming George had not done what they wanted him to do. Not that anyone, even if they could read the minds of the fans, would have been able to do what every fan wanted. At the same time the demand for expanded universe book and comics exploded. Hundreds of novels and young adult books have been produced since the release of Episode I, and to many of the most devoted fan these book are cannon for the Star Wars Universe.
With all of that said I have a few pieces of advise for you. Create amazing characters, send them to unbelievable places and have them face tough choices for the fate of the universe. Tell a great story, because whether you do or not you are going to be criticized. The fans have now had thirty years to imagine what has become of Luke, Han & Leia since the end of Return of the Jedi and with the help of hundred of expanded universe book they think they know exactly what has happened to their favorite characters. Ignore all of that. No matter what you do a large portion of the fandom will hate what you do. The only cannon that you should pay attention to is the six movie that have come before. Write Episode VII for the six-year-old child that has never seen a movie on the big screen and does not realize how a trip to a universe far, far away will change their life.