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Star Wars Killed A Universe To Save The Galaxy

It's been almost three years since Disney made the announcement that the Star Wars franchise was killing off the expanded universe. Suddenly, tons of novels, games, comics, and other media were expelled from the Star Wars canon. The admins at Wookieepedia were sent into a tizzy, as the majority of their information was now in limbo. Should they delete it? Should they wait? They eventually decided to keep the entries from the expanded universe, but label them as "Legends" to distinguish them from "Canon" entries. But why did Disney throw such a blow to Star Wars fans? In consideration of the company's plan to release a new Star Wars movie every year, it turns out they really had no choice.

Imagine the farce: You want to make a movie about what happened 20 years after “Return of the Jedi”? I hope that squares with the two dozen books on that decade. Want to tell a story about how the Death Star plans were stolen? Turns out they were stolen by nine different groups on nine different occasions in the EU. A rampant expanded universe is wonderful right up until the point it isn’t.

When you're the caretaker of a fictional franchise, you must have control over how a story is told. Otherwise, the result ends up like it was "designed by a committee," or in this case, a committee of millions of fans. FiveThirtyEight has an explanation of how the Star Wars expanded universe was created and why it had to be destroyed. -via Digg

(image credit: Disney/Wizards of the Coast)

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There's also the issue that Disney faced with the Expanded Universe of having to deal with a forest of separate creators. If the movie rights to the characters created by the various EU authors were not part of their book contracts, Disney would have had to negotiate separately with the authors for inclusion of individual characters, facing the issue of having to write around both the existing EU canon and explaining the absence of a character critical to that canon if an author decided to try to hold Disney up for a bigger payment for the movie rights to a character they created. Declaring the EU to be 'Legends' pushed all of that to the side, allowing Disney to pick and choose which parts of the EU they want to draw back into the core canon while ensuring that none of it is a 'must have' component that could obstruct new production if the author tries to be obstructive.
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