Until now, it seemed as though we'd never see the third of George Lucas' original concept of three Star Wars trilogies. But now that we are, it's interesting to note that there were once supposed to be four.
In a new history of the Star Wars saga in the latest issue of Empire magazine, it's noted that Lucas talked for a while about doing four trilogies, a total of 12 episodes, before dropping one sometime between doing A New Hope (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
More info can be found at the blog of The Making of Star Wars author J.W. Rinzler, who notes that in a 2004 interview, Mark Hamill recalled Lucas discussing four sets of films back in 1976 while making the original:
"You know, when I first did this, it was four trilogies. 12 movies! Out on the desert, any time between setups... lots of free time. And George was talking about this whole thing...'Um, how'd you like to be in Episode IX?' 'When is that going to be?' '2011'...I said, 'Well, what do you want me to do?' He said, 'You'll just be like a cameo. You'll be like Obi-Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope.'"
But there's more: a Time magazine article from 1978 indicates that Lucas' then-new subsidiary The Star Wars Corporation would be filming "Star Wars II" (which became The Empire Strikes Back) and "10 other planned sequels." Lucas himself even made a handwritten list of the complete saga that includes 12 chapters.
And what was supposed to happen in those last six installments? Apparently even Lucas himself was not sure:
"The prequel stories exist—where Darth Vader came from, the whole story about Darth and Ben Kenobi—and it all takes place before Luke was born. The other one—what happens to Luke afterward—is much more ethereal. I have a tiny notebook full of notes on that. If I'm really ambitious, I could proceed to figure out what would have happened to Luke."
By 1979, Lucas had shrunk his 12-episode epic down to nine chapters, and for a long time it looked like all we would ever get was the first six. But now, with Disney taking over Lucasfilm, Star Wars Episode VII gearing up for production, and the Mouse House very interested in making as many Star Wars movies as possible—we might end up getting the original dozen films that Lucas first envisioned nearly 40 years ago.
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