It seems that Lucasfilm's plans for a new Star Wars trilogy were actually at a rather advanced place even before the Disney deal took place. Rumours started as far back as 2009, and those original stories are looking more and more on the money day by day.
To take an interesting new piece at Bloomberg on face value, it even seems that George Lucas had locked in lots of talent before he sold to Disney. This includes screenwriters Michael Arndt and Lawrence Kasdan as well as "the big three" stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford.
I say 'locked in,' but here's how Lucas explains the state of his deals with the cast:
We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison – or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation. So I called them to say, 'Look, this is what's going on [with Disney].'
Lucas then realised he may be spoiling Disney's fun:
Maybe I'm not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them… I won't say whether the negotiations were successful or not.
That does sound like all three are signed on. Our best info, if we may be so pedantic, is that they've all agreed in principle but have yet to put pen to paper. "Final stages of negotiation" probably still holds, and likely will until a finished script has been seen and accepted.
Also detailed in the Bloomberg piece is how Lucas wanted Disney to buy his outlines for three new films sight unseen. It's an interesting image of how Star Wars' creator feels about his legacy, and perhaps hints at tricky times to come, now that Disney have control:
At first Lucas wouldn't even turn over his rough sketches of the next three Star Warsfilms. When Disney executives asked to see them, he assured them they would be great and said they should just trust him. "Ultimately you have to say, 'Look, I know what I'm doing. Buying my stories is part of what the deal is.' I've worked at this for 40 years, and I've been pretty successful," Lucas says. "I mean, I could have said, 'Fine, well, I'll just sell the company to somebody else.' "
Once Lucas got assurances from Disney in writing about the broad outlines of the deal, he agreed to turn over the treatments—but insisted they could only be read by Iger, Horn, and Kevin Mayer, Disney's executive vice president for corporate strategy. "We promised," says Iger. "We had to sign an agreement."
When Iger finally got a look at the treatments, he was elated. "We thought from a storytelling perspective they had a lot of potential," he says.
We're still some way out from tasting even a hint of what the next Star Wars film will be like. Still, I expect the behind the scenes stories will keep me entertained for a lot of that time.