This is what we know:
1) Episode VII is the first film in a planned new trilogy.
2) This proposed trilogy has three different screenwriters in place - Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) for Episode 7, Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark) for 8, and Simon Kinberg (X-Men, Sherlock Holmes, Jumper) for 9.
3) There will be more Star Wars movies outside of the proposed trilogy - Kathleen Kennedy has suggested that Disney want 2-3 SW films per year, similar in structure to the Marvel/Disney strategy of standalone movies building up to tent-pole event movies every three years or so.
4) The trilogy will be based on "an original story" so all those speculators out there talking about this being a lazy retread of some expanded universe novels, think again. To be fair to Lucas, he's always made a point of ensuring the movies were 'special' in this respect. So, in short, we're going to get some "All New Stuff". This is good.
5) The use of the title Episode VII clearly suggests that the emerging trilogy is set after the events of Return of the Jedi, and this is where the greatest speculation and interest lies. How soon after those events this story takes place is still unknown, and more information in this respect would give us more of an idea of what to expect from the new trilogy.
[SOME THOUGHTS: In my humble opinion, what made the Star Wars saga great in the first place was its characters - Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Yoda, etc. But by the end of Episode VI, Yoda, Kenobi and Vader were dead. To create a movie 'reboot' without these major influential characters is a massive risk. Is the Skywalker story arc over? Although I would dearly love to see new adventures with Luke, Han and Leia, without the threat of Darth Vader (arguably SF cinema's greatest villain) and the unique wizardly wisdom of Yoda and Obi Wan, it might all seem a bit . . . meh. Perhaps using 'Episode VII' is a little stifling, creatively speaking. What Star Wars needs, more than anything, is fresh ideas, fresh perspective and a return to all those things that made it great in the first place. Personally, I couldn't give a womp rat's butt if the new movie wasn't subtitled Episode VII. I would be just as happy to see a new movie that's either a standalone adventure or a trilogy-starter, as long as it delivers a great story with great characters and, most importantly of all, a return to the true spirit of Star Wars that has been sorely missing from recent iterations in the franchise.]
And finally . . .
6) J.J. Abrams is directing the first instalment. This is great news. Of all the directors reportedly up for the job, Abrams has the best track record of them all, especially when it comes to sci-fi and spectacle. His Star Trek reboot in 2009 is arguably one of the greatest reboots of any franchise ever, and a cracking piece of cinema to boot (it's one of my personal favourite movies of the past ten years). Bold, energetic and engaging, he took the Star Trek franchise and gave it a heavy dose of "Star Wars action" (Abrams' own words, paraphrased), making it relevant again to modern audiences. And cool, too. And, famously, Abrams wasn't even a fan of Trek. But he has always been a fan of Star Wars. So what exactly will he bring to this most beloved of movie sagas?
I think Abrams has the talent, the clout, and the vision to make Star Wars cool again. Let's face it, Star Wars has always been cool, the world just needs a reminder of just how cool it can be. I think Abrams will have some surprises in store for fans (see the secrecy over the new Star Trek Into Darkness film and you can see what we're in for). Lets also face a home truth, here: Star Wars - and by association, Lucas - has had one hell of a mauling over the past fifteen years. Fans (largely) hated the prequels, and they were less than enthused with the Clone Wars TV series. [They also hated the fourth Indiana Jones movie, too, but that's a whole 'nother discussion for a 'nother time.] Basically, whatever comes next has to be an improvement on past entries. Cynics out there will continue to poo-poo this new chapter in the Star Wars saga, but despite all the negativity, true fans are still hugely excited at the prospect of a new Star Wars film, and I foresee that in two years' time, the whole world will be going Star Wars crazy again, and as someone who was there back in 1977, I just hope it's because we have a great new Star Wars movie to go see. I do believe, as the saying goes, the Force is strong with this one . . .