It's alternative reality time, gang. Star Wars alternative reality time.
Step into the mysterious and invisible time machine that now stands before you, and travel back with me to the terrifying, mystical wilds of January 2013. San Francisco, California.
J.J. Abrams sits in a meeting room, stared down by an intimidatingly sincere Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm, as we peek through a window left ajar. All she wants from him is an answer to a simple question: will he direct Star Wars Episode VII?
Abrams is reluctant. It means moving his young family to London, possibly for the best part of a decade. It means giving up his beloved Star Trek franchise. Most of all - it means stepping into the biggest shoes/beard in Moviedom, and it's a terrifying prospect.
And in this reality - Abrams walks away.
The next day, we sit in the Lucasfilm board room, hidden from the board by a large Wookiee cutout. Reluctant executives mill about, unsure of what to say. Eventually, Kennedy enters, flanked by two extravagantly robed Imperial Guards. There is a moment of silence, before she turns to the waiting crowd, and asks simply:
"Well...We have a list of alternative candidates."
Candidate No. 1: Martin Scorsese
Title: Star Wars Episode VII: Sithfellas
Premise: We follow a ragtag team of charismatic underworld figures from Tatooine as they try to make it big in Coruscant. Meanwhile, an aging Luke Skywalker finds himself struggling with the success of the rebellion - and is drawn into a web of lies, deceit, and several scenes of Chewbacca consuming Class A narcotics. The movie asks the question: Can you make it big without betraying your friends (to the Sith).
Cast: The original cast return, though are mostly killed off in montage sequences in the first act. Leonardo DiCaprio will be a revelation as the two-bit Tatooine hoodlum Tonij, who eventually turns out to have been a Jedi all along - betraying his Hutt godfather Donj Djimmi (voiced by Robert De Niro) in the process.
Selling Point: We get to see Luke Skywalker brutally murder a Sith villain with a tree branch while screaming "who's wooden now!"
Downside: No-one wants to watch Mark Hamill brutally murder someone - unless he's voicing The Joker.
Candidate No. 2: Wes Anderson
Title: Star Wars Episode VII: The Family Skywalker
Premise: Luke Skywalker, still riddled with issues 35 years after the death of his father, has had three neurotic, Force-talented children of his own. Han and Leia, having struggled for years with the demands of three equally demanding children, are in the process of undergoing a messy divorce. Against the backdrop of a new galactic civil war - constructed entirely from low budget models - the six children find themselves falling in love with one another, despite their close family ties.
Cast: The original cast return, with the exception of Harrison Ford, who when approached declared that "you can write this S***, Wes, but you can't make Han's kids date their cousins." Bill Murray has been recruited at the last minute to replace him as the charismatic smuggler. Owen and Luke Wilson play his two sons, with Jason Schwartzman an outside-the-box choice to play their cousin Ben. The rest of the cast is filled up with every other actor who Anderson has previously worked with, each in a role more whimsical than the last.
Selling Point: The model effects are incredibly cheap, so the film will come in under budget.
Downside: The model effects look incredibly cheap, so no-one will ever believe the climatic battle, in which Schwartzman's Ben Skywalker must single-handedly blow up a Mega-Death Star with only an X-Wing on a string and some 'zoom' noises.
Candidate No. 3: Michael Bay
Title: Star Wars Episode VII: The Revenge of the Extinction of the Jedi
Premise: Explosions. In space.
Cast: Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox were initially cast as a young Han and Leia, before the entire script is reworked when some questioned the wisdom of reworking the Jedi into aliens from another galaxy sent to save the rebellion. The original cast return, accompanied by several unknown model-turned-actors playing their children. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence play Lando Calrissian's squabbling sons, members of the intergalactic police force.
Selling Point: The Death Star exploding at the end of Star Wars? There's a lot more where that came from.
Downside: The Ewoks are back. And Shia LeBeouf will voice all of them.
Candidate No. 4: Quentin Tarantino
Title: Star Wars Episode VII: Mandalorian Sith
Premise: Told entirely in flashback, flashforward and flashsideways, the film is a post-modern deconstruction of the original trilogy. Following the return of the Sith, an emotionally scarred Luke Skywalker fights his way to a conflict with their leader - a reborn Darth Vader. The ensuing twenty minute conversation, which culminates in Luke beheading Vader with one swipe of his lightsaber, will likely divide audiences.
Cast: The original cast return, and work their way through several monologue heavy scenes before being gradually killed off by a wisecracking Sith assassin (Christoph Waltz). Samuel L. Jackson will return as Mace Windu in a move that will remain entirely unexplained. Uma Thurman's Mara Jade is expected to be a fan favorite, but is set to spend a disproportionately large portion of her screen time barefoot.
Selling Point: The dialogue is the best it's ever been, plus the segment where Lando and Chewbacca take down an entire army of Stormtroopers with only two blaster rifles and whole lot of wisecracks sounds fantastic.
Downside: The plot only makes sense on the third re-read. That, and the R-rating.
Candidate No. 5: Judd Apatow
Title: Star Wars Episode VII: Sithed Up
Premise: A ragtag team, formed largely of the spoiled, stoned children of the rebellion's original leaders, must find a way to defeat the newly returned Empire - and grow up in the process. The final act reveal that the leader of the Sith is also Jaina Solo (Leslie Mann) will leave audiences shocked.
Cast: Seth Rogen is cast alongside Mann as her schlubby husband Ben Skywalker. James Franco, Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill are standouts as his slacker best friends - and aspiring Jedi. The original cast return, but only in cameos as foul-mouthed, scatological older versions of the beloved characters.
Selling Point: It's funny.
Downside: Star Wars isn't supposed to be that funny.
The boardroom sits in a hushed silence, awaiting a reaction from Kennedy, who hasn't said a word throughout the briefing.
She pauses, makes them wait.
After a few moments, she takes her phone from the table, and dials a number.
As the dial tone hums, the wait is agonizing.
Eventually, on the other end, we hear a man's voice answer.
"J.J.? I'll double your salary, and you can have the Driver kid."
Muffled speech on the other end, that we can't quite make out.
Kennedy puts the phone down.
"He'll do it."