The future of Star Wars  

From David Bowie to Prince, George Michael and Debbie Reynolds, the year of 2016 took the lives of all-time beloved celebrities. But no death has left more questions unanswered than the loss Star Wars' icon Carrie Fisher.
In particular, what's “Star Wars” without Princess Leia? It is up to Disney to decide.
While fans worldwide, the cast and crew of the classic films mourn the death of Carrie Fisher, questions have arisen about how the actress' passing will affect the sci-fi franchise going forward.
According to Deadline, back in July 2016 Fisher finished filming the yet-to-be-named “Star Wars: Episode VIII”, in which her role of Leia has a larger appearance than that of her cameo role in “The Force Awakens.”
However, Disney and LucasFilm are yet to comment on how Fisher's death will affect the completion of “Episode VIII” or impact the script and filming of “Episode IX.”
“The fact that we are talking about this shows how woven into the DNA of ‘Star Wars' Carrie Fisher is,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore, told CNBC. “This is no small thing.”
As there is a shortage of information about General Leia's story arc in the forthcoming films, fans and analysts can only guess how Disney will manage without the iconic actress and character.
After the demise of Paul Walker, a main player in the “Fast and Furious” films, writer Chris Morgan had to undertake the task of rewriting the script of “Furious 7” so that Walker's character could exit the series via footage that had already been shot during production.
The script was rearranged to account for Walker's absence and the production team was tasked to use a combination a CGI and Walker's younger brother as stand-ins to get the shots they needed to complete the film. By the way, The Fate of the Furious - #F8 In Theaters April 14 2017 by Universal Pictures is looking pretty awesome.
Therefore, fans and analysts speculate that a similar fate could await future “Star Wars” films. Even though Fisher had finished her scenes for “Episode VIII, Disney could opt to alter the script in order to explain Leia's absence in future films. Episode VIII is scheduled to hit the theaters in December, 2017.
Following the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2014, Lionsgate decided to diminish the actor's role in the final installment of the “Hunger Games” franchise instead of digitally recreating the actor for the scenes he hadn't filmed yet.
The writers proceeded to use the footage they had of the actor to complete several scenes and gave some of his character's dialogue and actions to other characters.
It is yet to be known how essential the character of Leia is for “Episode IX” and if more script alternations will be necessary before its release in 2019.
As a standalone Han Solo Film is scheduled to be released by Disney in 2018, the production team will have more time to make major alterations to the final film in the new trilogy, if that is the direction they decide to head in.
Another direction would be to recreate Carrie Fisher digitally like they did in Rogue One. Instead of recasting the role of Grand Moff Tarkin, a character portrayed by the late Peter Cushing in the original trilogy, Director Gareth Edwards and the team at Industrial Light and Magic opted to recreate him digitally.
British actor Guy Henry was chosen to perform the role of Tarkin during the production and then digitally altered in post-production in order to look like Cushing.
This technique has caused some controversy around the legal and ethical issues arising around the portrayal of a demised actor's likeness on film; however, the technique sets a precedent that could mean Fisher's Leia can still appear in “Episode IX” without altering the script.
In this case, Disney might need permission from Fisher's estate to go ahead with the digital replication, unless it is enough for the production company to hold copyright to her performance in “The Force Awakens” to recreate her digitally.
“It's a somewhat novel area of law where, as a matter of best practice, they might seek out rights from the estate,” Paul O'Brien, an associate attorney with Falcon, Jacobson & Gertler LLP, a New York law firm, told CNBC. “But if they had an agreement previously in place that allows them to create derivative works based on Carrie's prior performances they could be covered by that.”
However, Disney is not entirely satisfied with the feedback fans gave to that technique in ‘Rogue One.'
“Based on the divisive way that fans have reacted to the effects in ‘Rogue One' and considering that her death will still be pretty fresh, I think they won't go the CGI route,” Erik Davis, managing editor of Fandango said. “Unless, it's to touch up a tiny bit, a fraction of a scene. Sort of the way ‘Fast and Furious' did with Paul Walker. I think that that would be the only case that they would use effects.”