George Lucas’ “Star Wars” prequels remain a polarizing topic among fans of the space franchise, and it turns out 20th Century Fox feared the writer-director might “destroy” everything fans love about the “Star Wars” universe with his prequel trilogy. The reason? Centering “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” around 10-year-old Anakin Skywalker worried Fox. Lucas reveals in Taschen’s upcoming book “The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005” (via Polygon) that he was warned against casting a young Anakin.
Per Polygon (via NME): “When Lucas initially told 20th Century Fox that he was making the story of how Anakin became Darth Vader, they were as excited as anybody else. Then he told them that, in the first film, Anakin would be 10 years old. ‘You’re going to destroy the franchise; you’re going to destroy everything!’ Lucas explains that he told people at Lucasfilm he was ‘making a movie that nobody wants to see,’ but would rather do that than telling the same story over and over. And to be fair to George, it still made a billion dollars.”
Jake Lloyd was cast in the role of young Anakin Skywalker for “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” While Fox’s fears about Lucas destroying the “Star Wars” franchise ended up coming to fruition to a certain degree (at least with more outspoken fans), the backlash against the prequel had less to do with young Anakin and more to do with characters like Jar Jar Binks, Lucas’ storyline involving tax disputes and trade federations, and the filmmakers’ decision to weigh the story down in universe-building mythology like the introduction of midi-chlorians. Regardless, “The Phantom Menace” was a huge hit for Fox as it earned over $1 billion at the worldwide box office.
“The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005” will be available to own in the U.S. starting December 13, but the book has already been released in the United Kingdom. The book includes other revealing tidbits from Lucas, including his original plans for the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy. Lucas intended to make Leia the “chosen one” and to resurrect “Phantom Menace” villain Darth Maul so he’d become the main antagonist of the trilogy. Visit the Taschen homepage to order the book.