For over 35 years the Star Wars Expanded Universe has added thousands of years of storytelling lore to Lucas's vision via novels, comics, video games, and more. All told by dozens of fans turned author, sometimes to the contradiction of already established stories in the timeline.
When Disney merged with LucasFilm last year they hired a team of people headed by 'Holocron Keeper' Leland Chee to sort through the myths and create a single cohesive timeline. Radio silence followed as news organizations turned their all-seeing eye to the pre-production ramp-up for Abrams' 'Episode VII' filming. Until today.
StarWars.com broke the news the film sequels will not be following the plot lines set out Timonthy Zahn in his 'Heir to the Empire' series. Or any other post-'Return of the Jedi' stories. From the official release:
In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe. While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe. For example, elements of the EU are included in Star Wars Rebels. The Inquisitor, the Imperial Security Bureau, and Sienar Fleet Systems are story elements in the new animated series, and all these ideas find their origin in roleplaying game material published in the 1980s.
As part of their restructuring into a cohesive whole, only the six Star Wars episodes, 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars,' and the new 'Star Wars Rebels' are considered core. According to Disney/Lucasfilm, "These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align."
However, this does not mean the Expanded Universe as it exists now will be stricken from the record. Disney realizes demand for existing tales remains and all existing stories will be kept in print under the banner of 'Legends,' a new division created for orphaned EU storylines.
Perhaps to soften the blow Disney/Lucasfilm simultaneously released this video with the announcement, as an ode to Star Wars EU of the past, present, and future. The mini-documentary talks with several prominent Expanded Universe creators about their love for Star Wars and is part love letter, part swan song for an era.
You can read the press release in its entirety at StarWars.com.