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New 'Star Wars' franchise to draw on role-playing game material

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With the sale of the Star Wars franchise to Disney, the mega corporation's plans to refocus the series' canon on the movies caused some consternation among fans of the Expanded Universe (EU), but there's a new hope. Elements of the EU canon, including content from the Star Wars Role-Playing Game, will be included in Star Wars Rebels, an upcoming CGI animated series that takes place between "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" and "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope":

In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe. While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe. For example, elements of the EU are included in Star Wars Rebels. The Inquisitor, the Imperial Security Bureau, and Sienar Fleet Systems are story elements in the new animated series, and all these ideas find their origins in roleplaying game material published in the 1980s.

Lucasfilm/Disney
Lucasfilm/Disney Wikimedia

Lucasfilm/Disney

The choice to not strictly adhere to the Expanded Universe storylines is not surprising; they are often filled with off-genre and even contradictory information that would be confusing on screen.  It seems Disney's plan is to pick-and-choose what information from the EU they would like to leverage in official media, which follows the same well-worn path of many other book-to-screen franchises. Of course, the content EU fans are probably most excited about is Timothy Zahn's contribution, but it remains to be seen if any of the elements will transition.  So what is canon? The six movies and the Clone Wars, which is actually quite a bit of content:

While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the EU consistent with our film and television content as well as internally consistent, Lucas always made it clear that he was not beholden to the EU. He set the films he created as the canon. This includes the six Star Wars episodes, and the many hours of content he developed and produced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align.

Lucasfilm/Disney
Lucasfilm/Disney Wikimedia

Lucasfilm/Disney

Going forward, all Star Wars storytelling will be connected. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has formed a story group to oversee and coordinate all Star Wars creative development:

We have an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon. We're set to bring Star Wars back to the big screen, and continue the adventure through games, books, comics, and new formats that are just emerging. This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.

Lucasfilm/Disney
Lucasfilm/Disney Wikimedia

Lucasfilm/Disney

The series' time frame takes place five years before the Battle of Yavin and fourteen years after the foundation of the Empire. Star Wars Rebels is scheduled to premiere in Fall 2014 as a one-hour special on Disney Channel before airing regularly on Disney XD.

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