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This article covers a subject that has been announced, but has neither been released nor officially canceled in more than two years. Since there have been no official updates on the product within that time, its current development status cannot be determined.

Star Wars: Underworld[1]
Production information
Format

Live-action[2]

No. of episodes

100 (planned),[3] 400 (proposed)[4]

Run time

approx. 1 hour per episode[3]

Attribution
Creator(s)
Writer(s)
Executive producer(s)
"It sits on the shelf."
―George Lucas[src]

Star Wars: Underworld is the working title of a proposed live-action television series that would be set during the timespan between the films Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. George Lucas first announced the series at 2005's Celebration III. Over the next few years, a variety of writers were hired, over fifty scripts were written and art designers worked on visualizing Lucas' ideas. However, in 2010, Lucas explained that the series would be put on hold due to budget constraints. The Disney buyout of Lucasfilm in 2012 has cast further doubt on the series' future.

Plot summary

"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[src]

Star Wars: Underworld is said to be set primarily in the Coruscant Underworld, in the time period between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.[1] It is during this period that the Galactic Empire rises to ultimate power throughout the galaxy.[10] In 2005, George Lucas told Celebration III audiences that the show would not focus on any characters from the films, but that some of them could appear.[11] 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".[12] He later described the show as "bare-bones" and "action-heavy",[13] and explained that it would depict what the inhabitants of the Star Wars galaxy do for entertainment.[14]

Producer Rick McCallum commented on the plot of the series: "[Lucas] 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.";[15] "It is going to be much darker, grittier. It's much more character-based";[15] "Think about bounty hunter, that’s all I can tell you."[16] He also called it "Deadwood in space" and "Empire on steroids",[17] and compared it to The Godfather.[18] Lucasfilm's Steve Sansweet also described the series as revealing the "greasy, seamy underbelly of Star Wars".[19]

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". 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.[20] In 2014, Stephen Scaia revealed in his Kickstarter campaign that he had been a writer for the series, and was involved in several story elements, including Lando Calrissian losing the Millennium Falcon to Han Solo, Solo and Chewbacca's first meeting, as well as an action scene with Boba Fett.[8][9]

Cast and characters

"It was going to tell the story of a different part of the Star Wars universe that you didn't exactly know, and then it was going to slowly fold back into the characters that you knew and loved."
―Stephen Scaia[src]

Since the project was announced, multiple actors from the films have voiced their interest in reprising their roles: Ian McDiarmid[21][22], Peter Mayhew[23], Daniel Logan[24][25][26][27][10][24] and Jay Laga'aia[28][28] Additionally, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed actor Sam Witwer has expressed an interest in appearing in the series (possibly as Galen Marek, Vader's secret apprentice), and has hinted that he may be involved in the show.[29][30] On March 9, 2009, actress Rose Byrne, who appeared in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, told MTV that casting for the series was underway, and that some of her friends had auditioned for roles.[31] Star Wars Insider 109 on the other hand, claimed that scripts had yet to be written at that point, and would precede any earnest casting efforts.[32]

The series was expected to feature minor characters from both the films and the Expanded Universe—with possible cameos by some of the main characters.[33] 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."[34] Lucas had originally written a scene for Revenge of the Sith involving the Expanded Universe character Quinlan Vos,[35] but the character received only a mention in the final film.[36] 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.[37] A. C. Crispin proposed a book series dealing with Leia Organa that was to be set 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."[38] Karen Traviss was to write a novel involving Boba Fett, but the project was reportedly canceled because of possible conflicts with the TV series.[39]

Development

"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

Prior to the release of the original Star Wars film in 1977, rumors began circulating that a TV series would be produced based on the film.[40][41] Although such a project never came to fruition, George Lucas became involved (to varying degrees) in three live-action Star Wars television 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 each case, the networks saw the productions as backdoor pilots for possible television series, though Lucas wasn't interested.[42][43] In 1992, Lucas produced the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, during which he developed a love of making television.[44]

In late 2004, rumors again began to circulate of a live-action Star Wars series in development.[45][46][47] Lucas officially announced his plans for a live-action Star Wars television series at Celebration III, saying "We probably won't start that until sometime next year". He also spoke of plans for a new animated television series set during the Clone Wars, which he expected to be produced first.[48][49] Also at the event, Rick McCallum elaborated; "He [George] envisions somewhere like 100 hours between Episode III and Episode IV".[15] However, at 2007's Celebration Europe, McCallum claimed that the plan was to produce "up to 400 episodes".[4] He also revealed that "I’ve had three conceptual artists working on it now for about seven months".[50][51] The original plan was for the first season to be entirely written and produced before shopping the series to broadcast networks; After a network was committed, work would commence on the following seasons.[34][52]

Writing

"We’d go gather at Skywalker Ranch periodically, every couple of months, and break stories and write scripts for this proposed series that George was interested in. And George was in the ring with us every day. And it was a fascinating, amazing experience."
Ronald D. Moore[src]

Lucas and McCallum interviewed over 200 prospective "writers of real significance" from all over the world—including England, the United States, Paris, Prague, Budapest, and Australia.[53] McCallum remarked, "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."[54] Writers from Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, and Lost, as well as those from the Star Wars books and comics, were considered as part of the final interview process in late 2007.[55][27] In the end, six writers were hired—including Louise Fox, Tony McNamara, Fiona Seres,[5] Ronald D. Moore,[6][7] and Stephen Scaia[8][9]—and were expected to start work in November 2007.[27] Former Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies was asked to write for the show, but turned it down due to his desire to do his own projects in a different style to both franchises; however, he did claim to be jealous of whoever ended up being hired.[56]

After the writers were hired, story outlines took shape over the next three months.[26] A writing conference was scheduled for late 2007,[57] and sessions had began by August 2008.[19] The writers worked closely with the art department (including concept artist Erik Tiemens[10]), which had been working to design sets, environments, vehicles and aliens since 2007.[58][6] As of September 2010, 50 hours worth of episodes plus a "movie-of-the-week" had been written. George Lucas discussed this when he appeared on a May 2011 episode of G4's Attack of the Show to discuss contemporary Star Wars topics. During the interview, he claimed that the scripts "looked like the Star Wars features".[59][60] In a January 2012 interview with IGN, McCallum revealed the working title to be Star Wars: Underworld.[1] Although he denied this the next day,[61] he later told Entertainment Weekly that it was indeed the working title.[62]

Filming

"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."
―George Lucas[src]

McCallum expected that he and Lucas would approach the series in a similar manner as Lucas' The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.[11][63] Like on that earlier series, they hoped to give each episode the look of a feature film, with feature-level production values and visual effects on a television budget.[4] Lucas also talked of using the show as a template for how he would approach "more personal films" that he hoped to create.[26] In 2005, Lucas stated his intentions to shoot the series using consumer-level cameras,[64] which McCallum said would be high-definition cameras.[15] 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.[65] Lucas expected that, in producing the show, he would "do what would typically cost $20 million, for $1 million."[66] According to IESB, McCallum has said that each episode will have a budget of 2-4 million dollars.[67]

Principal photography was planned to take place all around the world, with a possible base in Sydney, Australia.[15][68] McCallum expected production to begin in 2008, for a 2009 release.[26] Shooting was scheduled to begin in 2009 in Australia,[57] however as of March 2009 there was only some preliminary casting survey taking place. A Lucasfilm representative claimed that official casting would begin once the scripts were complete and that the series would not go into production until 2010.[69] McCallum expected the first season to consist of thirteen-to-sixteen episodes, shot over a one-to-two-year time period.[57] In a June 2011 interview, McCallum said that the show would most likely be filmed in the Czech Republic, a location used multiple times by LucasFilm for various productions.[18] Reportedly, Jim Marquand, son of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi director Richard Marquand, was hired as one of the directors.[70] At 2007s Star Wars Reunion II, Rick McCallum told the audience that each episode of the series would have its own original score, and that he hoped John Williams would return as composer.[27]

At a 2010 screening of The Empire Strikes Back in Chicago, Illinois, Lucas announced that the series was "on hold" due to budget concerns.[71] Lucas and McCallum later elaborated that the scripts were prohibitively expensive for television, and that the show was put on hold in order to wait on technology to develop to the point that costs could be kept relatively low.[59][60][18][17][1] On October 30, 2012, The Walt Disney Company announced an agreement to acquire Lucasfilm. The deal included the rights to the Star Wars franchise for which Lucas will act as creative consultant to a sequel trilogy, which is set to debut in 2015.[72] In a conference call following the press release, Disney stated its interest in the potential of a Star Wars television series, but did not go into details.[73] Soon after, it was announced that Rick McCallum had retired from Lucasfilm.[74][75]

In January 2013, ABC president Paul Lee told Entertainment Weekly that the live-action Star Wars series was being reevaluated for production.[6] That August, Lee again visited the topic of a Star Wars live-action series; "We've started conversations. I'd love to go there. I'm a particular fan of Lucasfilm. It's an amazing world."[76][77]

Release and marketing

SWtimeline

A 2007 promotional poster.

In a 2006 interview, Steve Sansweet said that he expected the series to be released "toward the end of the decade". He gave the time period until release to be "about 3 years."[78] A teaser image for the series was shown at Toy Fair 2007, advertising the next three years of Star Wars: the 30th anniversary of the saga and the release of The Force Unleashed in 2007 (which was pushed back to 2008), the new Clone Wars TV series in 2008, and the live-action series in 2009.[79][80][81][82] Rick McCallum expected the series to be released simultaneously worldwide and to be broadcast on cable.[26][27] Both Disney and News Corp were 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.[83] Additionally, Lucas voiced his interest in distributing the series via the internet—specifically StarWars.com.[84]

Comments from Lucasfilm employees (such as Sue Rostoni and Jim Ward) had hinted that tie-ins such as spin-off books and video games were planned.[85][86][87][88] The video game Star Wars: 1313 was originally conceived as a direct tie-in to Underworld,[89] and the Level 1313 location was first introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.[90] After Underworld was postponed in 2010 due to budget constraints, 1313 was altered to be its own distinct project. However, at George Lucas' request, the final game was to have still taken inspiration from elements of Underworld.[89] Star Wars Rebels was influenced by ideas developed by Lucas for Underworld.[91]

At 2005's Celebration III, Lucas told audiences that if this series (along with Star Wars: The Clone Wars) was successful, more series could follow.[11] At 2007's Celebration Europe, McCallum explained that "One of the ideas is that we’ll have multiple series going on in about two or three years' time."[4] McCallum said he hoped 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.[57] Lucas described the series as "one show that will split into four shows, focusing on different characters."[92]

Sources

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Live-Action Series Working Title Revealed on TheForce.Net
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 SWicon Producer Rick McCallum at Celebration Europe! on StarWars.com (content now obsolete; backup link on Archive.org)
  3. 3.0 3.1 [1]
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Rick McCallum Talks Live Action TV Series and Star Wars 3-D. Official Star Wars Blog.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 [2]
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Hibbard, James (1-10-2013). ABC to look at 'Star Wars' live-action TV series (English). EW.com. Retrieved on January 11, 2013.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Caron, Nathalie (2014-03-13). Ron Moore reveals the argument he lost with George Lucas over the Star Wars TV series. blastr.com. Retrieved on March 14, 2014.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Army of the Lost Horizon by Steven Scaia. Kickstarter. Retrieved on June 12, 2014.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Star Wars Underworld Writer Describes Scenes From The Canceled Live-Action Series. TheForce.net (June 10, 2014). Retrieved on June 12, 2014.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Star Wars Insider 99
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 HyperspaceIconCelebration III George Lucas Session 2 on Hyperspace (content now obsolete and unavailable)
  12. starwars.com at Celebration III: Thank the Maker: George Lucas
  13. [3]
  14. Star Wars: The Clone Wars Interviews - UGO.com
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 HyperspaceIconRick McCallum at ROTS press conference on Hyperspace (content now obsolete and unavailable)
  16. Elliott, Sean (May 10, 2006). Exclusive Interview: STAR WARS PRODUCER RICK MCCALLUM TALKS 3D & TV SERIES. ifMagazine. Retrieved on June 17, 2006.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Weintraub, Steve. "Producer Rick McCallum Talks RED TAILS and Live-Action STAR WARS TV Series; Describes Show as “EMPIRE STRIKES BACK on Steroids”" Collider.com, January 2012.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 [4]
  19. 19.0 19.1 "'Star Wars' Live-Action Show To Reveal Galaxy’s 'Greasy, Seamy Underbelly'" - at the MTV.com blog
  20. [5]
  21. HyperspaceIconIan McDiarmid Q&A: DVD Press Event on Hyperspace (content now obsolete and unavailable)
  22. Ian McDiarmid on Possibly Playing The Emperor in the Live-Action Star Wars TV Series. IGN.com (August 23, 2012). Retrieved on July 18, 2014.
  23. [6]
  24. 24.0 24.1 Keck, William (June 12th, 2005). Lucas: Man of the gala. IGN. Retrieved on June 16, 2006.
  25. [7]
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 [8]
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 [9]
  28. 28.0 28.1 The Dominion Post (June 18th, 2009). Kiwi eyes role in Star Wars. stuff.co.nz. Retrieved on March 18, 2009.
  29. Meet the Stars of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  30. Up Close: Sam Witwer
  31. MTV Movies Blog » EXCLUSIVE: ‘Star Wars’ Live-Action TV Series Casting Underway. Moviesblog.mtv.com. Retrieved on March 10, 2009.
  32. "Launch Pad" - Star Wars Insider 109
  33. HyperspaceIconCelebration III George Lucas Session 1 on Hyperspace (content now obsolete and unavailable)
  34. 34.0 34.1 George Lucas on his two Star Wars TV series, Heroes and HBO's Rome
  35. The Art of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  36. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  37. Republic #83: The Hidden Enemy, part 3 (of 3) on the Jedi Council Forums (Literature board; posted by RevantheJediMaster on August 3, 2005 at 7:35 AM; accessed November 29, 2013)
  38. Author Analysis: Ann C. Crispin on the Jedi Council Forums (Literature board; posted by accrispin on May 29, 2006 at 9:19 AM; accessed November 29, 2013)
  39. "Is It Too Late To Save The Imperial Commandos?" - io9.com
  40. Starlog #7; "Creating the Space-Fantasy Universe of Star Wars", August 1977
  41. Starlog #18; "Luke Skywalker Is Alive And Well In The Empire Strikes Back: An Interview with Gary Kurtz", December 1978
  42. Filmfax #69/70, October 1998/January 1999
  43. Starlog #89 "The Ewok Adventure"
  44. Exclusive: A Rare Sit-Down with Mr. George Lucas - article at Comingsoon.net
  45. [10]
  46. [11]
  47. [12]
  48. SWCustom-2011 Thank the Maker: George Lucas on StarWars.com (backup link on Archive.org)
  49. Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide
  50. [13]
  51. http://www.theforce.net/celebration/story/CE_Panel_Rick_McCallum_Producing_The_Prequels_107457.asp
  52. [14]
  53. [15]
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  55. "Star Wars" -- Revenge of the Writers
  56. Doctor Who: The Writers Tale
  57. 57.0 57.1 57.2 57.3 Star Wars Insider 96
  58. Total Film magazine, May 2008 issue, p. 138
  59. 59.0 59.1 Geller, Eric (2011-05-24). George Lucas Talks SW Live-Action Series. TheForce.net. Retrieved on May 24, 2011.
  60. 60.0 60.1 "Star Wars: Live Action TV Series - Lucas Gives Update on Star Wars Live-Actio..." IGN, September 21, 2010.
  61. "Rick McCallum - Rick McCallum: Star Wars TV Show Still Coming"
  62. [17]
  63. BBC (April 26, 2005). Star Wars to become new TV series. BBC. Retrieved on June 16, 2006.
  64. [18]
  65. Bloom, Phillip "The tale of Lucasfilm, Skywalker Ranch, Red Tails, Star Wars and Canon DSLRs on a 40 foot screen!" 12 December 2009.
  66. Cohen, David S. (August 1, 2005). "Lucas touts tube moves - Co. already at work on two 'Star' spin-off skeins". Variety. Retrieved on June 30, 2006.
  67. Help Wanted: Lucasfilm is Looking for Star Wars TV Writers!
  68. BBC (March 15, 2006). Star Wars series to run and run. BBC. Retrieved on June 16, 2006.
  69. Lyons, Margaret (March 10, 2009). Star Wars live-action series...still far, far away. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on March 18, 2009.
  70. Liverpool Daily Post, February 28, 2008
  71. "TESB 30th Anniversary Screening"
  72. Mucha, Zenia (October 30, 2012). Disney to Acquire Lucasfilm Ltd.. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved on August 6, 2013.
  73. Goldman, Eric. "Star Wars TV: Disney XD Will Air Future Programming - IGN" IGN.com, October 2012.
  74. SWCustom-2011 An Independent Future for Rick McCallum on StarWars.com (backup link on Archive.org)
  75. 'Star Wars' producer Rick McCallum officially leaving Lucasfilm
  76. [19]
  77. ABC in talks to develop TV shows based on 'Star Wars' characters. Reuters (August 04, 2012). Retrieved on October 26, 2013.
  78. Reedy, Stephen (February 15, 2006). INTERVIEW: EXCLUSIVE: Steve Sansweet Talks About the Upcoming Star Wars TV Shows!. Movieweb. Retrieved on June 16, 2006.
  79. Jedi Temple Archives Toy Fair 2007
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  83. Hill, Jim. Are George Lucas and the Walt Disney Company getting ready to expand their (Rebel) Alliance. jimhillmedia.com. Retrieved on November 26, 2013.
  84. [23]
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  86. HyperspaceIconRevenge of the Sith DVD press event on Hyperspace (content now obsolete and unavailable)
  87. Star Wars Goes Live on the Small Screen.
  88. [25]
  89. 89.0 89.1 "The Strange Status Of Star Wars: 1313, A Hot Game With An Uncertain Future" - kotaku.com
  90. SWCustom-2011 "To Catch a Jedi" featurette on StarWars.com (backup link on Archive.org)
  91. SDCC 2014: Complete Audio From Star Wars: A New Dawn Panel - TheForce.net
  92. [26]

External links


The Star Wars Saga
Episodes:
I: The Phantom Menace · II: Attack of the Clones · III: Revenge of the Sith
IV: A New Hope · V: The Empire Strikes Back · VI: Return of the Jedi
VII · VIII · IX
Spin-off films:
The Holiday Special · Caravan of Courage · The Battle for Endor
The Great Heep · The Haunted Village · The Pirates and the Prince
Tales from the Endor Woods · Treasure of the Hidden Planet
The Clone Wars · Gareth Edwards spinoff · Lawrence Kasdan spinoff
Simon Kinberg spinoff · Josh Trank spinoff
Television series:
Droids · Ewoks · Clone Wars · The Clone Wars
Rebels · Detours · Underworld
Other media:
Audio dramas · Books · Comics · Games · Star Tours I, II · Fan films
Shadows of the Empire · Clone Wars · The Force Unleashed · The Old Republic
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