Evidence that Star Wars wasn't initially planned as 6 movies?

I’m a big Star Wars fan but I’ve never gotten too deep into all of it. Seen all the movies, listened to 2 of the audio books, and played the video games, but that’s about it.

One of the things I’ve picked up on though (mostly from around here), is that Star Wars was initially supposed to be only one movie. It seems like I remember reading that the opening of the first movie didn’t originally say “Episode IV” but Lucas quickly added that in after he saw how well it was doing.

A friend swears that Lucas knew exactly what he was doing from the start, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t. So what’s the general consensus, and is there any evidence to back it up? Cites?

P.S. - I know the ‘Same ending twice in one trilogy’ theory but that probably won’t hold much water. Is there anything stronger than that?


Lucas stated after the first movie came out (and was insanely successful) that he was interested in producing nine movies – and that “Star Wars” (later retitled A New Hope) would be the fourth in that series.

He did not claim to have written any of them yet.

This seemed pretty obvious after the second movie, when he pulled that lame-o “I am your father” crap, and quite blatant when the third movie came out, and we find out that Luke and Leia are in fact sibliings, which added all those weird overtones to that kiss she gave him when they swung over the Death Star chasm back in the first movie…

The early drafts for Star Wars have elements that are used in the other films in the first trilogy, and parallels to stuff in the first two movies, but they are very different from the final product. It’s pretty common knowledge that once they started filming George Lucas was still making stuff up as they go along (the idea that Leia was Luke’s sister was made up on the set during the filming of Return of the Jedi). I’m pretty sure that Darth Vader was not intended to be Luke’s father during the filming of Star Wars: A New Hope - the stories Luke heard about his father would have been true if Lucas was using his early drafts, which did have father and son heroes.

I don’t think he planned it as a trilogy, or series. I think he had a big idea for a story, had to trim a lot of it out to make Star Wars, and then when he got to make sequels he incorporated some of the stuff he had to cut from the earlier drafts.

Personal memory (yes, some of us were around when the first film came out) is that it was always “Episode 4” on the opening scroll. Which was really cool, because it felt like we were coming in on a middle episode of a Flash Gordon type serial.

IIRC, the original proposal was for nine films, with the middle three being made first, followed by episodes 1-3 (NOT the ones we have been shown so far, but a different Episodes 1 through 3) detailing the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire. There were then to be three more films basically telling the story of the recovery from the dark times.

Lucas and his wife divorced some time in there, and her lawyers said she had rights to half the profits of any project conceived while they were married.

I clearly recall a Mad magazine (or possibly Cracked) parody with plot highlights of the “future Star Wars films.” This must have been right after 'Empire Strikes Back" came out, because one episode was to be written by Woody Allen, in which he played an intersteller schlemiel who was “the Other Hope.” I am sorry that “Love and Darth” was never really made…

I’m pretty sure this is incorrect. “Episode IV: A New Hope” was not added to the opening titles until the film was re-released when “The Empire Strikes Back” came out. I was twelve when the first one came out, and pretty obsessed. :wink:

I also remember early interviews with Lucas (again, around the time of TESB) when he said he envisioned 9 parts.

Fair enough. I have enough trouble remembering what I had for breakfast.

I do not remember it billed as Ep IV the first time. I don’t think that was added until ESB. I do remember the 9 film cycle idea.

IIRC he claimed to have a rough outline of how they would go, but he filmed ANH first because it was the most marketable. Done by others before and after. IIRC Tom Clancy’s * Red October * refers to some small things in Ryan’s past that were fleshed out in * Patriot Games *, which chronologically came first, though Clancy sold Red October first, thinking it an easier sell.

A group of overly geeky film-club friends went to see it in 1977 during the first week in Washington DC in a 70mm theater. It said “Episode IV, A New Hope” back then. In fact, we had long drawn ou conversations about why Lucas would have started in the “middle” of the series. But then again, we were 16 at the time and had solved all the rest of the world’s problems by then too…

I also recal Lucas making various statements about his desire for nine movies overall (in fact, that was being talked about all over the radio all that summer IIRC) and I was also under the impression that he wasn’t intending for there to be such a gap between sets of films, either.

(Good God, I’m getting old.)

I remember all of the releases and re-releases clearly. Within a few weeks of the release of “Star Wars” (now Ep 4) Lucas was quoted as saying he had 9, and some media reporters said 12, movies in mind. Within days of the release of the Empire Strikes Back I was told by a Star Wars Geek (he was a Battlestar Galactica super Geek) that Luke and Leia were brother and sister. I repeat saw the movie and much to my annoyance, I agreed with him. As far as sequels go, after the plot of the original movie (now Ep 4) was explained to him and how the baddie was adrift in space, he predicted a sequel, as he was more than familiar with Flash Gordon from his own youth.

So some of you claim that the “Ep. IV” scroll was definately there and some say it was definately not there. Is there any evidence to support either side?

Snopes says it didn’t originally say Episode IV. I thought I remembered a specific entry on snopes saying that, but all I could find was this on the The Madness of George III page:

Starwars.com recently answered it definitively

Most people are waaaaay off.

Actually, since “Vader” (well, “vater”) is German for “father”, I’m pretty sure the father/son thing was in there from the beginning.

The quick Luke/Leia smooch in the first movie was nothing compared to the tongue exploration in the Hoth infirmiry scene in the second.

Can I get an ewwwwwww?

Thank you GuanoLad. I was pretty sure it was added later, but it is nice to have the official statement of exactly when it was added.


My recollection was that it may have said “A New Hope,” but there was nothing about Episode 4. I also recall comments at the time of its rerelease Lucas had added the title.

I went looking on Lexis-Nexis:

So there was no Episode IV on the crawl.

The article does go on to say that

Of course, that’s what Lucas is saying in 1980, and not necessarily the truth.

Yeah, it always struck me that Lucas, surprised at making a ga-zillion dollars on the first one, starting spinning the whole ‘9 part saga’ thing out of his ass. Every statement after that from him has been based on that.

I recall reading that in (I think) a statement in the Star Wars comic from Marvel in 78 or so.

And I’ll bet anyone just about anything that A) the opening crawl did NOT say ‘Episode IV’ and B) Did NOT say ‘A New Hope’.

I think I saw Star Wars something like 12 times when it first came out. It was NOT called “A New Hope”, nor was it called Episode 4. It just opened with the crawl describing the story, then went straight into the action.

When I saw it again in 1980 or whatever it was, “Episode IV: A New Hope” jumped right out at me.

All doubt was removed in 1981, with the broadcast of NPR’s radio adaptation, which fleshed out quite a bit of the story. When Leia is held captive on the Death Star, the scene with the torture-droid/mind-control trip is elaborated on: Vader: “Tell me the location of the rebel base. Your father commands you!”

I remember this one too. It was Mad Magazine. I myself am heartbroken that Episode II was not called “Send in the Clones” after one of the sequels in this parody.

Wow. Color me surprised.

I wonder what other “false memories” I have that I could swear were real?

That really hot date with Brad Pitt before he was a star comes to mind :smiley: