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The new Star Wars films: can Disney restore the franchise to its former heights?

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The Walt Disney Corporation rocked the science fiction world when it announced it would produce a brand new trilogy of Star Wars films; purchasing the franchise, along with the rest of Lucasfilm Ltd, for $4.05 billion. Since the word first came down, we’ve learned that the first film, slated for 2015, will be written by Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt. We then learned that the subsequent two, spaced roughly two to three years apart, would be penned by The Empire Strikes Back co-author Lawrence Kasdan and the writer of X-Men: The Last Stand, Simon Kinberg. Finally, the big shocker: JJ Abrams, the director behind the recently-rebooted Star Trek franchise, would be directing the first film in the new Star Wars trilogy, simultaneously controlling the destinies of two of the genre’s biggest properties.

Hopes run high among the Star Wars faithful that Disney will be able to restore the franchise to its earlier heights. For its part, Disney has already moved to distance itself from the George Lucas-directed prequels: the company put off Lucasfilm’s plans to re-release Episodes II and III of the saga in 3D in order to focus "100 percent" on the new films.