Scrapped STAR WARS: UNDERWORLD Live-Action Series Would Have Featured Young Han Solo, Lando, and More

by     Posted 162 days ago

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The nature of the moviemaking business is that not everything comes to fruition.  Filmmakers can work on a project for years, even coming so far as to finishing casting, only to see it dissolve or evolve into something wholly unrecognizable.  One of the more curious “could have been” projects of the last few years is the proposed Star Wars live-action series Star Wars: UnderworldGeorge Lucas and producer Rick McCallum worked for a long while to put together a live-action TV show iteration of Star Wars, commissioning nearly 50 scripts and bringing together a team of writers to see them through.  However,  the project currently remains just an idea unlikely to ever move forward.

The mystery surrounding the scrapped TV series has grown to nearly mythic proportions, but the veil has now been lifted ever so slightly, revealing that the show would have delved into the backstories of Han Solo, Lando, Boba Fett, and more.  Read on after the jump.

star-wars-underworld-han-solo-chewieThe idea of Star Wars: Underworld was to fill in the gaps of time in the Star Wars universe.  Lucas assembled a team of writers—including Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ronald D. Moore—and they worked together to pen nearly 50 scripts that remain completed and ready to shoot.  The issue, however, was that the project was way too expensive to actually produce for television.  McCallum previously told us that Lucas had come up with digital characters that would have to be onscreen for 30-40 minutes at a time, which is extremely cost-prohibitive to create.  Moreover, since Lucasfilm was used to having complete control of all of its properties, the prospect of selling the series to a network seemed tricky.

Story details for Star Wars: Underworld have always been under wraps, but one of the writers that worked on the series, Stephen Scaia, recently revealed a few aspects while promoting a Kickstarter for an Indiana Jones spinoff story.  In the video (via /Film), Scaia reveals that some of the stories of Star Wars: Underworld involved “how Han met Chewie”, how “Lando lost the Millennium Falcon”, and there was even a Boba Fett action scene.

Now, even if it had now become more cost-effective to produce Star Wars: Underworld as Lucas had intended, the project would likely remain dead.  Since Disney bought Lucasfilm, the studio has been aggressively expanding the brand and has begun work on “spinoff” Star Wars films that reportedly delve into the backstories of the aforementioned characters.  It seems unlikely that Disney would want to “cross the streams” between the stories of the feature film and television divisions.

I’m sure Disney will at some point move forward with a Star Wars live-action TV series, but it seems highly unlikely that they would be using the exact scripts that Lucas commissioned for his version.  That said, it’s certainly fun to think about what could have been had Lucas found a way to get Underworld off the ground.

For much more on Star Wars: Underworld, be sure to check out our interview with McCallum from a few years ago, before the Disney sale.  He describes their plan for the show as “much darker” than the movies, specifically calling it “Empire Strikes Back on steroids.”

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  • http://www.collider.com/ DNAsplitter

    A lot of hard work flushed down the toilet *cue the Edgar Wright fans*. It’s a shame that Lucas couldn’t have rewritten characters or changed their designs to keep from CGI overload and in turn escalating the budget. Could have been cool to have seen a dark Star Wars story told in a 10 episode TV arc that lasted for 5 years – kinda like Game of Thrones.

    • Jeff

      This show does sound really badass but the first thing I thought of was it’d be really expensive. Even if you take out the CGI characters, just imagine the sets and basic effects for flying/lightsabers, and I got a strong feelong that the show doesn’t just stick to one planet, I imagine almost every ep there’d be a new planet like how Lucas created Clone Wars. It’d be awesome but it would probably be the most expensive show in history, then again Boardwalk Empire had an 18mil pilot so someone has the money.

      • http://www.abstractdawn.co.uk/ Nick Gadman

        I bet George Lucas could fund that shit with the change he lost down the side of the couch… or did he piss all his dollar on beer and sluts? The most lucrative franchise ever, he invented merchandise and action figures off the back of movies, not to mention ILM, Lucasfilm and then his deal selling Star Wars to Disney. Cash money certainly isn’t an obstacle.

      • http://www.collider.com/ DNAsplitter

        Not to mention all the money he got from Willow…

      • http://www.abstractdawn.co.uk/ Nick Gadman

        I bet George Lucas could fund that shit with the change he lost down the side of the couch… or did he piss all his dollar on beer and sluts? The most lucrative franchise ever, he invented merchandise and action figures off the back of movies, not to mention ILM, Lucasfilm and then his deal selling Star Wars to Disney. Cash money certainly isn’t an obstacle.

  • Doug_101

    Wasn’t the scrapped video game Star Wars 1313 supposed to tie into this somehow too? The game looked good. Too bad they canceled it.

    • http://www.scifihistory.net/ E. Lee Zimmerman

      Well, we were told ‘no,’ that they were to be two entirely different properties, but the synopses provided looked awfully familiar at the time.

  • enderandrew

    At the time, HBO expressed interest in buying the series. Lucas and McCallum called it “Deadwood in Space” and said it would be very dark and mature for Star Wars. The problem seemed to be that HBO would only commit to a season at a time, and Lucas demanded HBO buy a 100 episode package deal. HBO said if they could get the per-episode cost down, they’d consider it.

    McCallum said the special effects they wanted for TV and all digital characters meant they couldn’t get the per episode costs down enough.

    4 things have happened since then worth noting.

    1. Lucas isn’t there to demand someone buy 100 episodes at once or get nothing.
    2. Digital effects costs have gone down
    3. TV budgets have gone up
    4. Netflix is paying a fortune to compete and become the next HBO

    I really think Disney/Lucasfilm should hire someone to check the scripts, clean them up if needed and sell them to Netflix.

    • Jeff

      The article already said the stories would cross streams with the Disney spinoff movies, it would be bad business to show lando losing the falcon on the big screen woth one set of actors then go to the show and the same thing happens with another set of actors. Just doesn’t make sense to do it.

    • http://www.scifihistory.net/ E. Lee Zimmerman

      ??? When did HBO ever express interest in the property? I’ve never heard that.

      • nick

        They never did. I heard the same exact story in regards to the planned Dark Tower series that would take place between films.

  • http://www.scifihistory.net/ E. Lee Zimmerman

    The best that could happen to these scripts (if they do, in fact, exist) would be for whoever is going to hold the book license to spin them off into novels.

    • Doug_101

      That or cannibalize them for the spin-off films.

      • http://www.scifihistory.net/ E. Lee Zimmerman

        True. If they’re that good, then I hope they see the light of day somehow.

  • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/ tarek

    “Lucas had come up with digital characters that would have to be onscreen for 30-40 minutes”

    another brilliant Idea from Lucas.

  • vitextreeradar

    its kind of odd that they would have even started to go through the process for this show with the attitude that they could somehow figure out a way to make it look anywhere near the production level of a film. with the way things were heading towards episode 3 i think they probably thought they could cgi the entire show except for the actors heads and still call it live action. shudder.

  • Baz Hood

    I’d have loved to see this more than the stupid prequels! Ronald D Moore involved too!!! Dammit!!!

  • Guest

    um…theres also a story here about a Kick Starter campaign to fund an Indy project. More info please….

  • eternalozzie

    no more prequels … glad they killed this crap

  • GrimReaper07

    Good. I don’t want to see a young Han Solo (though I guess this might mean one of the spin-off films could be about Han Solo).

    • Concord Dawn

      Speculation for a considerable amount of time has been that it will. The most oft touted spin-off suggestions are: young Han, Boba Fett and Seven Samurai/Jedi (Yoda). The sources I’ve seen touting these suggestions have been pretty much bang on with every bit of information prior to official confirmation.

      • GrimReaper07

        The only one of those I like is the Seven Samurai one. I’m sorry, I know people love Boba Fett but I don’t get why. He’s a cardboard character with an awesome armor

  • Concord Dawn

    While I’d have loved a Star Wars TV series, it’s failure to launch at least delayed young Han Solo, then, and for that I’m grateful. (However much the latest process impresses, the idea of young Han/Lando etc really irks. A younger Obi-Wan didn’t stretch the imagination TOO far, because he was so old when we first encountered him. Han was only supposed to be 35 when we saw him- any younger version is gonna be massively distracting because there’s no film actor yet that feels or looks like an 18-34 year old Han. Prequelize Boba, fine: he’s in a helmet, anyway, but young Han Solo (despite being one of my favourite characters in pop culture) might be the first Star Wars I haven’t lapped up. 4 films with Han (and one Holiday special) is plenty, thanks. Harrison is Han.

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  • mike_thoms

    There will be a Star Wars live-action TV show, it just won’t be this one.

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