Footage appears online from the abandoned Lucasfilm TV series, Star Wars: Underworld.
After the release of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith in 2005, everyone wondered what the next Star Wars content was going to be.
George Lucas had initially started working on ideas for a Star Wars television show in 2005 which was revealed in an interview at an official Star Wars Celebration event.
Future interviews revealed that the television show wouldn’t feature any of the main cast from the feature films, they would be stories based around much smaller characters within the Star Wars universe. These stories would also be based in a time period between Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and IV – A New Hope.
The stories would heavily feature the criminal underworld of the Star Wars universe, hence its tagline. Despite initial details, George would later confirm that Boba Fett would feature to a large extent.
By the end of 2007, George hired three artists to start producing concept art based on his ideas.
Many writers were hired by Lucasfilm to help craft ideas and scripts for the show including Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald D. Moore and Doctor Who contributors Matthew Graham and Chris Chibnall.
Apparently, George was having such a great time with the creation of this project that he decided to create two seasons worth of material, a total of fifty scripts.
Rumours and stories about the television show would keep cropping up on news sites for the next few years.
The plan was to start shooting in Australia but of course, that never happened. Everyone involved in this project said the scripts were great but they ended up sitting on a shelf for years. The problem was money and the working within the television network system.
As Rick McCallum told Den of Geek (US), the written scripts were for hour-long television episodes. Network television had the money for production but an hours time slot with commercials only leaves you with a real episode length of 42 minutes.
The other option was to go for cable TV like HBO which allowed for more adult storytelling but they had a smaller amount of money for creating the content, therefore they liked a stronger control over what was being produced. This was an issue McCallum didn’t like at all.
The final hurdle was the production cost itself, as McCallum told Collider, each episode was currently budgeted at $5m an episode with more digital effects work, set and costume design than a two-hour blockbuster movie and this was for every week!
McCallum also stated in further interviews that the technology to make the episodes cheaper was still a long way off, dampening the hopes of Star Wars fans everywhere.
So Star Wars: Underworld, a project with high production costs that didn’t fit the creative television infrastructure of the time, came to a complete stop.
Apparently, when it became clear that the television show project wasn’t going anywhere, George Lucas started to steal ideas and concepts from the scripts and started incorporating them into another television show, Star Wars: Clone Wars.
In 2012, Disney bought the whole of Lucasfilm and it was hoped they might press forward with the Star Wars: Underworld scripts. Producer Rick McCallum who had been working on the project for several years by this point retired from Lucasfilm.
So that brings us to this five-minute video allegedly from 2010. What we have below is a short five-minute story that is technically very advanced for 2010.
By today’s standards, it looks like an FMV cut scene from an early CD-ROM video game, but what you have to remember is that a lot of the background material is digitally created and is being rendered in real-time as the live-action is being shot on a green screen stage. It all makes sense if you watch the second half of the video which features a behind the scenes look at the shooting of the test film.
The test film was created by Lucasfilm in partnership with Stargate Studios. You can find them on YouTube and in fact, a short snippet of this test film was included in their 2018 showreel. As you can see, Stargate Studios have worked on many major television shows including The Walking Dead, 24: Legacy, Dr Who and The Orville.
A lot of online discussion has dismissed this as looking like a bad fan film, especially with the end shoot out taking place with characters only a few feet away from each other and everyone is missing! This was not meant for public, critical analysis, it was to demonstrate the virtual set system.