George Lucas had an alternate sequel in mind if Star Wars had not been a hit
I have always been a fan of learning "what if" stories behind some of my favorite movies. Whether it be lost director's cut or a planned project that never took off, all of these could have been movies are fascinating to learn about. One movie I had no clue almost never happened was THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
STAR WARS fans have come to embrace EMPIRE as the best of all the films in the series, but George Lucas was not sure it would have been a hit. In fact, Lucas commissioned author Alan Dean Foster to write an alternate sequel in the event that STAR WARS had not been a success. Screen Crush interviewed Foster who shared how it all came about.
I was originally brought in while STAR WARS was still in production, on a two-book contract to do the novelization of the film, but he also instructed me to write a novel that could be filmed on a low budget.
That novel was published under the title SPLINTER OF THE MIND'S EYE and remains one of the best STAR WARS novels ever released. Here is a brief synopsis of the book.
Taking place after the events of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa along with C-3P0 and R2-D2 are on their way to an important meeting with representatives of a system that might join the Rebellion. On the way, the two crash-land on a swamp planet called Mimban (Lucas asked Foster to scrap a space battle that originally led to the crash because it would be too expensive to film), where they soon discover that the Empire has a secret mining colony in operation in an effort to find something called a Kaiburr crystal. Eventually the two are discovered, ending with a showdown between Luke and Leia against Darth Vader.
The novel is still readily available despite no longer considered part of the main STAR WARS canon, but it represents a complete alternate place the saga could have gone. There is no Han, no Chewbacca, and a very different confrontation between Luke and Vader that would have changed everything about the prequels and sequels if THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK had never happened. It is definitely worth a read even if you aren't someone who usually goes in for STAR WARS novels.
Head on over to Screen Crush for more details on what could have been. STAR WARS: EPISODE VII hits theaters on December 18, 2015.