|Star Wars: Underworld|
|No. of episodes|
approx. 1 hour per episode
- "It sits on the shelf."
- ―George Lucas
Star Wars: Underworld is the working title of a future live-action television series, the first live-action Star Wars television programming since Ewoks: The Battle for Endor in 1985. It will be set during the 19-year timespan between the films Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (19 BBY–0 BBY), and will focus on minor characters of the Star Wars galaxy, rather than those seen prominently in the films.
- "It's kind of like Episode IV — it's funny and there's action, but it's [a] lot more talky. It's more of what I would call a soap opera with a bunch of personal dramas in it. It's not really based on action-adventure films from the '30s — it's actually more based on film noir movies from the '40s!"
- ―George Lucas, Total Film magazine, May 2008 issue, p. 138
- "Basically, it is like 'The Godfather'; it’s the Empire slowly building up its power base around the galaxy, what happens in Coruscant, which is the major capital, and it’s [about] a group of underground bosses who live there and control drugs, prostitution..."
- ―Rick McCallum
Star Wars: Underworld is set between 19 BBY and 0 BBY, referred to as "the dark times" by Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope. It is during this period that the newly formed Galactic Empire rises to ultimate power throughout the galaxy. According to Lucas, "A lot of the issues from the films are connected, but you won't necessarily see a lot of the people that are connected". Lucas has described the show as "bare-bones" and "action-heavy".
In an interview in the November 2005 edition of the UK magazine Total Film magazine, McCallum was asked "How can Leia claim to remember her mother when Padmé dies in childbirth in Sith?", to which he replied "I think that could only be answered in the television series". In a 2006 interview, when asked about the show, McCallum replied, "Think about bounty hunter, that’s all I can tell you." According to Dan Wasson, project leader for the Wii version of the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game, the TV series may contain elements from the overall Star Wars: The Force Unleashed multimedia project.
An October 15, 2007 AICN report revealed several alleged plot points; The series will involve Podracing and the political interaction that goes with it, and there will be a plot involving the Death Star plans. Lucas later confirmed that the series will show what the citizens of the Star Wars galaxy do for entertainment, including pod racing.
|Organizations and titles||Sentient species||Vehicles and vessels||Weapons and technology||Miscellanea|
Cast and characters
- Daniel Logan (rumored) as Boba Fett. Logan portrayed the young Boba Fett in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and The Clone Wars TV Series. He has reportedly been asked by Lucas to reprise his role as Fett for the series.
- Jay Laga'aia (in talks). Laga'aia portrayed Captain Gregar Typho in both Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and has reportedly discussed yet unknown role(s) in the series with George Lucas.
Film actors Ian McDiarmid and Peter Mayhew have expressed interest in reprising their respective roles in the series. Additionally, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed actor Sam Witwer has expressed an interest in appearing the series (possibly as Galen Marek, Vader's secret apprentice), and has hinted that he may be involved in the show.
The series is rumored to feature minor characters that will be from both the films, such as Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, as well as those from the Expanded Universe, such as Ferus Olin or Mara Jade during her tenure as Emperor's Hand, with possible cameos by some of the main characters. Lucas: "The Emperor and Darth Vader are heard about — people talk about them — but you never see them because it doesn't take place where they actually are. There are stormtroopers and all that, but there are no Jedis." Lucas had originally written a scene for Revenge of the Sith involving the Expanded Universe character Quinlan Vos, but the character received only a mention in the final film. Lucas himself later instructed the writers of the Star Wars: Republic comic book series to not kill off the character. This has led some fans to speculate that Vos may play a role in the series. A. C. Crispin proposed a book series dealing with Princess Leia Organa between Episode III and IV, but "Lucasfilm didn't approve the idea of a Leia backstory because they want to keep that era of the SW continuity untouched for the television series they're considering." Karen Traviss was to write a novel involving Boba Fett, but the project was canceled because of possible conflicts with the TV series.
The previously mentioned October 15, 2007 AICN report mentioned several alleged details on the series' characters; according to the report, the series will have a more emotionally nuanced, morally gray take on characterization; "Rebel bases and Imperial Star Destroyers...Imperials will be everywhere in the new show - undercover operatives, Imperial Officers of all makes and ambitions, and nearly all of them will be afraid of Darth Vader." The characters Oola, Bib Fortuna, Boba Fett, Thall Joben, a Rebel general named Durron, "a straight-laced Rebel with the last name Naberre [sic]...in his 20s", "at least" one Mandalorian and "General Papanoida" have all been confirmed to appear.
- "That'll give you all something to think about."
- ―George Lucas, on his announcement of the series' development
Since the release of the original Star Wars film, George Lucas had been involved (to varying degrees) in three live-action Star Wars productions: The Star Wars Holiday Special, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. While the holiday special was a critical failure, both Ewok films won Emmy awards and had a positive critical reaction. In 1992, Lucas produced the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, during which he developed a love of making television.
In late 2004, rumors began to circulate of a live-action Star Wars series in development. Lucas officially announced his plans for a live-action Star Wars television series on April 23, 2005 at the Celebration III fan convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. He also spoke of his plans for a new animated television series set during the Clone Wars. He stated that "we will probably do the animated series first" and that, in reference to the live-action series, "we probably won't start that until sometime next year."
George Lucas appeared on G4's Attack of the Show in May 2011 to discuss major contemporary Star Wars topics. Lucas discussed the live-action TV show in a hot segment and revealed some of things about the eagerly-awaited series, including that they had 50 hours and that the existing material looked like the Star Wars features.
On October 30, 2012, it was announced that Disney had bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion. In January 2013, Paul Lee, president of ABC entertainment, told Entertainment Weekly that Disney would "take a look" at Underworld, and that "[Disney would] love to do something with Lucasfilm, we're not sure what yet. We haven’t even sat down with them. We're going to look at [the live-action series], we're going to look at all of them, and see what’s right. We weren't able to discuss this with them until [the acquisition] closed and it just closed. It’s definitely going to be part of the conversation."
- "It's a completely different kind of idea, which is risky. But that's the only reason I'm doing it. Some people will inevitably say, 'It's not what I think of as Star Wars.' So who knows, it may work or it may not."
—George Lucas, Total Film magazine, May 2008 issue, p. 138
In 2005, series producer Rick McCallum stated that "He [George] envisions somewhere like 100 hours between Episode III and Episode IV". However, in 2007 at Celebration Europe, he said that the hope is to do "up to 400 episodes". Like on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, McCallum and Lucas hope to give each episode the look of a feature film, with feature-level production values and visual effects on a television budget. The style of the series will be similar to Lucas' The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series. Lucas hopes to use the show as a template for how he will do his "more personal films" that he hopes to create. At Celebration Europe, McCallum stated that "I’ve had three conceptual artists working on it now for about seven months."
McCallum says on the writing and plot of the series: "We are just starting to interview writers and trying to really figure out which direction to go to. He envisions somewhere like 100 hours between Episode III and Episode IV with a lot of characters that we haven't met that have been developed in some of the novels and other things. We are really excited about that. Finally, we could have the opportunity to answer everybody's questions once and for all by the time we finish the series." He described the series: "It is going to be much darker, grittier. It's much more character-based." Steve Sansweet later explained that the series will reveal the "greasy, seamy underbelly of Star Wars".
- "It’s about who’s talented, who’s got the strength to challenge George and also, much more importantly, what’s the dynamics of the five or six people. If they can let go of their ego and work toward a specific goal. Sometimes you think 'I’m sick of writing alone.' Everyone has their ebb and flow. We’re trying to get everyone in their peak."
- ―Rick McCallum
Lucas and McCallum interviewed over 200 prospective writers for the series from all over the world—including England, the United States, Paris, Prague, Budapest, and Australia. According to McCallum, Lucas was looking for "writers of real signifigance". Writers of the Star Wars books and comics were considered as part of the final interview process in September. Reportedly, writers were also considered from Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, and Lost. Former Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies was asked to write for the show, but turned it down due to wanting to start his own projects in a different style to both franchises, though he did say he would be very jealous when he found out who was hired.
The interview process was supposedly finished by September 2007, with the story outlines taking shape over the next three months after that. In the end, six writers were hired and were expected to start work in November 2007. A writing conference was scheduled for late 2007, and sessions had began by August 2008. The entire first season will be written, then filmed, before soliciting the first season, working on the following seasons once it has a home. The first season's scripts are currently being written. The writers worked with the art department, which has been working to design sets, environments, vehicles and aliens since 2007. As of September 2010, 50 hours worth of episodes plus a "movie-of-the-week" had been written, also confirmed by Lucas in a May 2011 interview.
In 2005, Lucas stated his intentions to shoot the series using consumer-level cameras, which McCallum has said will be hi-definition cameras. In late 2009, Lucas and McCallum invited filmmaker Phillip Bloom to Skywalker Ranch to advise on using different types of cameras for pick-up photography on Red Tails, and for the live-action series. Lucas has stated that, in producing the show, "we will do what would typically cost $20 million, for $1 million." According to IESB, McCallum has said that each episode will have a budget of 2-4 million dollars. Principal photography will take place all around the world, with a base likely in Sydney. McCallum expected production to begin in 2008, for a 2009 release. Shooting was scheduled to begin in 2009 in Australia, however as of March 2009 there was only some preliminary casting survey taking place. A Lucasfilm representative confirmed that official casting will begin once the scripts are complete and the series would not go into production until 2010. McCallum expects the first season to consist of thirteen-to-sixteen episodes, shot over a one-to-two-year time period. In a June 2011 Interview, McCallum stated that the show would most likely be filmed in the Czech Republic, a location used multiple times by LucasFilm for various productions.
- George Lucas—creator/executive producer/story
- Rick McCallum—producer
- Erik Tiemens—concept artist
- Jim Marquand—director (in talks)
McCallum stated at Star Wars Reunion II that he hopes to have John Williams on the musical score for the series (though too early to tell) and added that each episode will have its own original score.
Release and broadcast
In a 2006 interview, Stephen J. Sansweet expected that the series would be released "toward the end of the decade." He gave the time period until release to be "about 3 years." This was supported by an April 2007 poster advertising the next three years of Star Wars: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed in 2007 (it was pushed back to 2008), the new Clone Wars TV series in 2008, and the live-action series in 2009. In 2009, George Lucas announced in the Star Wars Hyperspace Membership Fankit, "We're also doing a lot of preliminary work on the eventual live-action Star Wars series, but that's still several years away and too early to talk about in specific terms," At a 2010 screening of The Empire Strikes Back in Chicago, Illinois, Lucas announced that the series is currently "on hold" due to budget concerns.
According to series producer Rick McCallum, the series will be broadcast on cable. Both Disney and News Corp are rumored to have shown interest in acquiring broadcast rights for the show, with the former offering ABC and ABC Family and the latter offering FOX and FX. Lucas is also interested in distributing the series via the internet—specifically StarWars.com. Rick McCallum expects the series to be released simultaneously worldwide, though he says it is still too early to tell. He later stated in a 2011 that present technological limitations for digital effects were postponing production "three or four years," and that the decline in television's popularity could endanger the project.
In May 2011, Lucas explained in an interview that the delays in production involved retaining the quality of the feature films while keeping the costs low enough for a television series:
- "It sits on the shelf. We have 50 hours. We are trying to figure out a different way of making movies. We are looking for a different technology that we can use, that will make it economically feasible to shoot the show. Right now, it looks like the Star Wars features. But we have to figure out how to make it at about a tenth of the cost of the features, because its television. We are working toward that, and we continue to work towards that. We will get there at some point. It's just a very difficult process. Obviously, when we do figure this problem out, it will dramatically effect features, because feature films are costing between $250 to $350 million. When we figure this out, they will be able to make a feature film for $50 million."
Marketing and spin-offs
A teaser image for the series was shown at Toy Fair 2007, and featured a close-up of Boba Fett's helmet. Jim Ward has stated that the new series offers LucasArts the opportunity to expand the gaming universe of the Star Wars series. According to Ward, "It's a whole environment for us to go and make some great games." LucasArts employees have also discussed this with the media. According to Sue Rostoni, spin-off books are also likely, but as of June 2007, have not yet been discussed.
At Celebration III, Lucas stated that if this series (along with Star Wars: The Clone Wars) is successful, more television series may follow. He explained that he has considered setting the time frames of these possible shows during time periods far away from his films. When asked by a fan at his AFI lifetime achievement ceremony if this may include the Knights of the Old Republic/Sith Wars era, Lucas explained that it is always a possibility, and that he may be interested in taking the franchise to those story areas one day. At Celebration Europe, McCallum repeated that "One of the ideas is that we’ll have multiple series going on in about two or three years' time." McCallum hopes that after the series' second or third year, a character could have his/her own spin-off series, and by the fourth or fifth year, the production staff could have at least five separate series running. Indeed, Lucas has described the series as "one show that will split into four shows, focusing on different characters."
The video game Star Wars 1313 was originally conceived as a direct tie-in to Underworld. After the series was postponed in 2010 due to budget restraints, 1313 was altered to be its own distinct project. However, at George Lucas' request, the final game will still take inspiration from elements of Underworld.
Notes and references
- Star Wars: Underworld on Wikipedia
- Star Wars TV Series in 2008 - Thread at the StarWars.com message boards
- Star Wars Live Action TV Series [TDE] - Thread at the StarWars.com (Hyperspace) message boards
- - Initial announcement by George Lucas of his plans to do the series.