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The Star Wars Sequel That Never Got Made

May 3, 2017

Today is Star Wars Day. Why? Because it’s May the 4th…and May the 4th be with you. Get it? With the original trilogy, three prequels, a new trilogy of sequels, and an increasing number of standalone, offshoot films, the Star Wars movie universe is huge. But the first planned sequel was never produced. Here’s the story of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.
Splinter of the Minds EyeToday, when a new Star Wars movie is released, it’s a major cultural event, and the film is bound to gross somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion dollars. But when the first movie, simply titled Star Wars, was released in May 1977, 20th Century Fox wasn’t quite sure how well it would perform at the box office. Science-fiction films were not especially popular at the time, but the movie’s popularity grew and grew as the year went on. (And why wouldn’t it? It’s got everything: spaceships, robots, Jedis, lightsabers…) Star Wars of course became one of the top-grossing movies of all time, earned a nomination for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, made science-fiction a viable mainstream drama, and turned Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford into huge stars.
Almost immediately, director George Lucas was hard at work on a sequel. That movie, The Empire Strikes Back, was released in 1980, and became as much of a classic and success as its predecessor. What’s little known is that Lucas had always planned to do a sequel to Star Wars, even if the movie hadn’t been a huge hit. He put together The Empire Strikes Back for that contingency, but if Star Wars had been a modest success, he had plans for a low-budget follow-up film called Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.
While The Empire Strikes Back involves action in space and on multiple planets and comprises dozens of characters, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was to be a much smaller affair. The action would’ve consisted almost entirely of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia wandering around a cloudy swamp planet searching for a magical object that makes the mysterious “Force” more powerful. They’re pretty much the only two big Star Wars characters in it—until Darth Vader shows up at the end for a lightsaber battle, because he wants that talisman, too.
But in the end, Star Wars was so successful that Empire became the sequel of choice. Yet, Splinter of a Mind’s Eye lived on. The always enterprising Lucas hired science-fiction writer Alan Dean Foster—who’d written the bestselling novelization of Star Wars—to turn Splinter into a standalone Star Wars-branded novel.

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