Shadows of the Empire... Awakens?
Is there a future for Shadows of the Empire in Lucasfilm's new vision? Only in remnants. There are the teases in Star Wars Special Edition. The Micro-Machine Prince Xizor action figure was technically used in crowd shots during The Phantom Menace podracing sequence (not that anyone can tell). Players of the Star Wars LEGO video games can land Dash Rendar's ship The Outrider on Takodana, Maz Kanata's pirate planet from The Force Awakens.
Steve Perry, though his days in the proto-Story Group have passed, still thinks the movie-without-a-movie could become a great movie -- or a TV show. It's possible the latter was actually considered; in the mid-2000s, George Lucas and Lucasfilm developed a live-action Star Wars television series that reportedly dealt with the world's criminal activity, a Sopranos for a galaxy far, far away. Lucasfilm scrapped the plans after the Disney acquisition, but there's a glimmer of hope in animation: Dave Filoni has already begun to develop another cartoon series to follow his current Disney XD show Star Wars: Rebels. There's an entire underworld to draw from in Shadows of the Empire.
The problem: new Star Wars canon paved over most of Shadows canon contributions. In Marvel's canon-approved comic line, set between Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker has already returned to Ben Kenobi's Tatooine cabin -- where he spends a good chunk of Shadows of the Empire -- and fought with Boba Fett. Turns out, Fett is the one who tells Vader that Skywalker was his son. The Luke storyline in Shadows is even further complicated by the fact that he constructs a new lightsaber while hanging out at Obi-Wan's old place, including cutting into a kyber crystal, a plot device established in Rogue One.
Shadows of the Empire will exist forever, not as a canon story, but as a business model. The multi-medium push will now come once a year, as Lucasfilm releases annual Star Wars movies on a never-ending timeline. In the last few months, Rogue One received its own "Force Friday" toy release event, prequel tie-in novel, and central panels at Star Wars Celebration 2016. The complete theatrical run of these films is but a fraction of the time spent inhabiting the other works built around the movies. The idea of supporting a Star Wars story entirely on licensing seems like an afterthought when you can predict that May 2017 will unveil a new Kylo Ren costume and May 2018 will have a new Millennium Falcon LEGO set (to promote an upcoming Han Solo spinoff film).
But for the legion of Star Wars fans who survived on EU between 1983 and 1999, Shadows of the Empire was a bright beacon of Lucasfilm unity. For an entire year, we got our Star Wars movie, told entirely outside the theater.