Q & As About 'Star Wars': How did George Lucas envision the Star Wars franchise while making the first movie?
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How did George Lucas envision the Star Wars franchise while making the first movie?
To be honest, I don’t believe that Lucas had a grand blueprint for a “franchise.” When he was writing and directing Star Wars, aka Star Wars -Episode IV: A New Hope, he had a vague outline for the Prequels (proof of which is the prologue to the novelization of Star Wars), the four drafts of Star Wars, and ideas (not a complete screenplay that he pared down into thirds, as he has claimed) for possible sequels.
That’s it. No more, no less, as a certain Jedi Master that sounds suspiciously like Fozzie Bear as a Zen master might have said.
Between 1973 and 1976, and especially when he was shooting Star Wars, Lucas didn’t have a grand scheme to make a nine-part Saga with secondary Expanded Universes all over the media. He had hopes that Star Wars would be a decent enough hit at the box office to be able to make all kinds of films, including Raiders of the Lost Ark. He also hoped fans would buy Star Wars posters, T-shirts, toys, beach towels, and other licensed products so he could finance his movies, rather than have to go to studios like 20th Century Fox and ask for $25 million to make The Empire Strikes Back.
I admire George Lucas immensely. I think a small but loud faction of angry fans treated him like crap over the Special Edition re-edits and the 1999–2005 Prequels. He deserved none of that “George Lucas is a hack!” nonsense he received because he didn’t give those fans the version of the Prequels that they imagined in their heads before May 19, 1999.
Where I think he is somewhat disingenuous is when he claims that the Star Wars Trilogy was pretty much written as one huge screenplay that was eventually pared down into “bite-size” screenplays. That doesn’t jive with the record of how each Episode in the Trilogy was produced.
So when Lucas was making Star Wars, he wasn’t giddily saying to himself, “Oh, this is going to be even bigger than 2001: A Space Odyssey or Jaws!”
Nope. Instead, he was fretting about the script for Star Wars, what to do with Obi-Wan after the escape from the Death Star, how to keep the film from missing deadlines and remain on-budget, the disappointing first special effects shots made by Industrial Light & Magic, and how to make sure Fox didn’t intervene in the production or cease funding the film altogether.