How Star Wars Books Changed 'Force Awakens' And Might Inspire Future Star Wars Stories

The dream of the Lucasfilm Story Group is that everything will be connected: the movies, the books, the games, the comics, the VR experiences, everything. So far the books seem to be feeding off of the movies, explaining after the fact how we got to our current place in the Star Wars timeline. But as we progress in this new trilogy, the books and the movies will be interwoven, telling the story of this galaxy in unison. At the DK Publishing presentation at Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016, Lucasfilm creative executive Pablo Hidalgo revealed that the books are already beginning to inform future Star Wars stories. In fact, an old expanded universe book resulted in changes to the Star Wars: The Force Awakens script.

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Han Solo and Chewbacca discover that the Millennium Falcon had been on Jakku for years and Han comments that he knew they should have double checked the Western Reaches. That isn't how the line was written in the original script. In Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams' original screenplay, Solo said that he knew they "should have double checked the outer rim." Lucasfilm Story Group member Hidalgo informed Abrams that the outer rim is actually too large of an area for that line to really make sense for a guy as knowledgeable about this galaxy. Pablo instead suggested a smaller region in the Star Wars galaxy: the Western Reaches.

This is an example of how the expanded universe books have inspired the canonized films. The Western Reaches was created for the Star Wars Legends sourcebook The Essential Atlas, released in 2008 and written by Jason Fry and Daniel Wallace.

Here are a few other bits we learned from the DK Books panel at Star Wars Celebration 2016:

Designing the Millennium Falcon cross-section for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Incredible Cross Sections book was particularly hard because in reality, it would be impossible to fit all of the interior sets inside the exterior design. "It's kind of like the Tardis," Hidalgo joked. The ship was never designed for this much scrutiny.

The cross-section design for Han and Chewie's freighter features a ton of Easter eggs, including Jabba's hookah and the carbonite slab that once imprisoned Solo. The artists and writers came up with a canon explanation as to why Han and Chewie raided Jabba's palace after the events of Return of the Jedi. It's very possible that throwaway gags like this in a DK book could be mentioned or shown in future stories told in novels or comic books.

The upcoming Star Wars: Complete Locations book will show a cross-section interior of Maz's castle. They previewed this image on the big screen and it looked incredible. The artist rewatched the Maz's castle scene from Force Awakens hundreds of times to capture all the specific aliens, making sure each of them was placed in their exact on-set location. Among the things revealed is that Maz has her own private hangar with a new vehicle not seen before in Star Wars lore. They were even able to include a reference in the recent Star Wars Aftermath: Life Debt novel.

Someone in the audience asked if we would see anything more from the Knights of Ren. Hidalgo said that he thinks enough time has passed since the release of the movie that they might publish some reference photos of the characters on He couldn't promise this will definitely happen, but we could get better images of the Knights of Ren in costume very soon. But Hidalgo warned that we shouldn't expect to get any character details if that happens. I'm guessing that further exploration of the Knights of Ren will likely come from Episode VIII or a future movie.