With the release of RETURN OF THE JEDI in 1983, George Lucas’ STAR WARS franchise had seemingly come to an end, and for close to two decades, fans had to rely on books, comics, and games for a little taste of that galaxy far, far away. Following the release of the Special Edition of the STAR WARS trilogy in 1997, audiences were more than ready for new stories and production would begin on what would become STAR WARS: EPISODE I – THE PHANTOM MENACE that very year. Although 20th Century Fox was more than eager for new STAR WARS, Fox wasn’t overly pleased when George Lucas told them the first film would be focusing on a ten-year-old Anakin Skywalker, apparently telling him that he was going to destroy the franchise.
This little tidbit came courtesy of The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005 (via Polygon), a massive tome that covers the making of the Prequel Trilogy.
When Lucas initially told 20th Century Fox that he was making the story of how Anakin became Darth Vader, they were as excited as anybody else. Then he told them that, in the first film, Anakin would be 10 years old. “You’re going to destroy the franchise; you’re going to destroy everything!” Lucas explains that he told people at Lucasfilm he was “making a movie that nobody wants to see”, but would rather do that than telling the same story over and over. And to be fair to George, it still made a billion dollars.
Although THE PHANTOM MENACE definitely received mixed reviews upon release, the Prequel Trilogy as a whole has become much more appreciated over the years, but I’m sure there are some out there who still believe that THE PHANTOM MENACE really did destroy the franchise. This is far from the only interesting tidbit revealed in the book, as George Lucas also spilled a few more details on his original plans for the Sequel Trilogy as well. Darth Maul would have returned as the trilogy’s big bad, having become “the godfather of crime” as the Empire crumbled. It also would have put the focus on Leia (Carrie Fisher) as she attempted to build the New Republic, all while battling gangsters and former Imperials who had set up their own planets following the collapse of the Empire. As for Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), he would be tasked with rebuilding the Jedi Order from scratch and training a new generation of Jedi.
The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005 is already available in the U.K, and will be released in the U.S. on December 13, 2020.