A long time ago, in a rumour-mill far, far away...
It was way back in 2005 that George Lucas first announced that he was planning a live-action TV show set in the STAR WARS universe, but since then details have been in shockingly short supply. There were murmurings of Lucas wanting to take the story in a more adult direction, focusing on a family of bounty hunters and actually comparing it to THE SOPRANOS in space - very cool indeed - but then everything went quiet for years, many fearing the project scrapped. A recent interview to promote the (fabulous looking) STAR TOURS ride at Disney gave us our first update – when asked about the show, Lucas had this to say:
"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."
So according to George the show exists in some form, and there’s over 50+ hours (of what exactly, we’ll clarify shortly…), but the project is currently too cost-prohibitive to produce? Hmmm. I’m probably missing something but wouldn’t Lucasfilm be saving themselves a fortune on the fact that six films-worth of planets, their landscapes, sets, vehicles, creatures, costumes, sound FX and such are already rendered and ready to go? Green-screens surely can’t cost that much, can they?
So what’s the latest then? Well, Lucas’s right hand man / producer Rick McCallum has been talking with CzechPosition.com (it’s not as odd as it sounds, Lucasfilm recently shot WW2 drama RED TAILS there) and revealed some rather interesting details, including confirmation of what the show will be about:
“It takes place between episodes three and four, when Luke Skywalker was growing up as a teenager, but it has nothing to do with Luke. 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.”
So it seems Lucas has indeed stuck with the more adult approach after all. A refreshing move after all these years we’ve had to endure his “it’s for kids” excuse whenever he was challenged on some of the weaker elements of the prequels. ‘Cos we all know kids love nothing more than trade embargoes, political sabotage and casual racism.
As for the mysterious 50+ hours of the show currently sitting on the shelf, McCallum revealed these to be ‘third draft scripts* .’ That’s a hell of a lot further into pre-production than anybody had initially thought. Very promising!
But now for the bad news. We’re in for a little bit of a wait…
“The problem we have is there is a lot of digital animation; we don’t have the technology yet to be able to do them at a price that is safe for television. Since we would be financing them, it would be suicide for us to do this . So we are going to wait three or four years.”
Can we get a collective Vader-style “Noooooooooo!” from everybody? Will I even be alive to see this in another four years?! The world may have succumb to an alien/zombie/robot apocalypse for all we know! Ugh. And if that wasn’t depressing enough…
“Network television and cable television as we know it are completely imploding, so we’re not really sure that in five years’ time we can release a dramatic one-hour episode because it is all reality TV now.”
That’s a bit too much doom and gloom methinks. Sure, the face of television programming has changed for the worse over the years, but there’ll always be a hunger for narrative storytelling. With increasing numbers, audiences are consuming this particular type of TV show in different ways - the DVD box set, legal downloads, streaming etc – STAR WARS will easily find a home somewhere. Just not necessarily on Sky 1. If McCallum really believed in this End Is Nigh attitude there’s no way they’d have invested so much time and effort already.
In the meantime however, STAR WARS fans can look forward to more CLONE WARS; an animated sitcom from the makers of ROBOT CHICKEN; the very cool-looking Kinetic game for XBOX; M.M.O. ‘THE OLD REPUBLIC’; and the long-proposed six film 3D re-release starting yearly next February. Well, just as long as people turn up to see PHANTOM MENACE 3D that is, “If they don’t, then there will be just one.” Bit of a Negative Nelly this fella, isn’t he! Or-- hang on, was that some kind of threat?!
STAR WARS EPISODE 1: PHANTOM MENACE 3D will be released in February 2012. And if we behave and all go and see it like good little boys and girls we’ll get A NEW HOPE 3D in 2015.
STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA is released on Blu-ray on September.
RED TAILS is due for release January 16 2012.
* The only writer to be revealed so far is Matthew Graham, creator of LIFE ON MARS and its spin-off ASHES TO ASHES.
Is the force still strong with this franchise? What would you like to see from a live-action STAR WARS TV show? Let us know with your comments below!