[UPDATE: Vulture takes the accuracy of its reports very seriously. And while a piece published in The Hollywood Reporter this evening quotes Snyder’s rep as saying that the director “is not involved in any way with the new Star Wars,” Vulture stands by its story. This reporter heard through a source very familiar with the situation that Snyder recently flew up to Marin County to meet with Lucasfilm execs about the project. When subsequently reached by Vulture, Snyder’s spokesperson would only repeat that he “is” not currently involved. One should note the possible political ramifications here of our original story break: Snyder’s last Warner Bros. film, Sucker Punch, lost millions for the studio, and execs there could have become distressed at the idea of him getting involved with another studio’s franchise when they have so much at stake with their upcoming Man of Steel and want him available for an immediate sequel.]
Back in November, the Los Angeles Times reported that Man of Steel and 300 director Zack Snyder said he had no interest in directing the hotly anticipated seventh Star Wars film. But Vulture has learned that while this may be specifically true — he won’t be doing Episode VII — it was a bit of misdirection: He is in fact developing a Star Wars project for Lucasfilm that is set within the series’ galaxy, though parallel to the next trilogy. It will be an as-yet-untitled Jedi epic loosely based on Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic Seven Samurai, with the ronin and katana being replaced by the Force-wielding knights and their iconic lightsabers. (Go ahead, say it — you know you want to: “ … an elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.” Felt good, didn’t it?)
It’s not clear just where Snyder’s untitled Jedi film would fall within the Star Wars chronology, but one insider expects it will not be considered part of the “numbered” episodes, but rather a stand-alone film set sometime post–Episode VI events, meaning the next phase of the franchise development is much broader than previously thought. For those unfamiliar, Kurosawa’s influential Seven Samurai (The Magnificent Seven was the American remake) tells the tale of a small agrarian town in sixteenth-century Japan that’s routinely pillaged by bandits. Fed up with the annual shakedown, its farmers retain the services of seven masterless samurai to defend their harvest. One of the film’s stars, Toshiro Mifune, was initially offered the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi (as Kotaku recounts here). George Lucas has cited the classic as one of his favorites, telling the Telegraph in 2005 that “it’s a brilliant, brilliant film, and every time I see it I can’t believe the magic mixture of a great story and great acting and humour and action and suspense — wonderful cinema. The art of moving pictures is on every frame of this movie.”
In late October of last year, when Disney CEO Bob Iger first announced the acquisition of Lucasfilm, he’d stated that after Episode VII, “our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years.” Our sources also say that Snyder’s would start production after Disney starts on its planned 2015 release of Star Wars: Episode VII, and while no director has yet been set for Episode VII, clearly things are taking shape at Lucasfilm. (A spokesperson for Lucasfilm declined comment.)
In the meantime, we are left to ponder the obvious geek questions: Do Snyder’s Jedi carry just a single lightsaber or a long one and a short one, like samurai do? Oh God, why do you torture us so!?