Thus, Star Wars was booked into a whopping 39 theaters for its grand opening, in the hopes that it would at least make a little bit of its money back. All but one of those theaters saw this weird little movie break their all-time attendance records. At the end of all that, the crazy bearded guy was right. Within a couple of years, approximately 96 percent of the world's children were dressing up as a Star Wars character for Halloween. The era of the high-concept sci-fi blockbuster was born ... and with it, the era of building films around franchises and merchandising potential.
No, It Was Not Originally Conceived As A Nine-Part Series
So the first film says it's "Episode IV" right in the opening credits. That's what makes Star Wars different from, say, Transformers, or even the Matrix trilogy -- it was a single grand epic spawned in Lucas's possibly deranged mind long before cameras started rolling on the first film.
Lucasfilm"There's no way the first three are anything but gold!"
The legend goes that when Lucas began writing the story, it got too big for one movie, so he decided to split it up. Shortly after releasing the first film, Lucas claimed he already had an idea of what all nine parts of the saga would be about. Obviously, he would only go on to make six films (Lucas now says there were always supposed to be just six). But the truth is that when they released the first film, he had no idea it was anything other than a standalone movie. Most fans now don't realize that the famous "Episode IV" isn't anywhere in the original opening crawl -- it was only added to later prints. The idea of numbering the episodes came up with the second film, which was originally announced as Star Wars II.
Let's look at Darth Vader, for example. The prequels make it clear that the overall saga is supposed to be the story of Darth Vader's corruption and final redemption ... but Lucas didn't even know who Darth Vader was until the second draft of Star Wars II (that is, The Empire Strikes Back). In interviews, Lucas has claimed that he came up with the name "Darth Vader" as a variation of "Dark Father," implying that it was always supposed to be a clue of his relationship with Luke. But in the early drafts, Lucas gave the name "Darth Vader" to a completely normal Imperial general who had nothing to do with Luke.
In all likelihood, Darth Vader's real name was supposed to be ... Darth Vader. That's why in the original Star Wars, Obi-Wan calls him "Darth" instead of "Anakin," the name he would have known him by. In fact, in Lucas' early notes, Vader and Luke's father are supposed to appear together onscreen. Though we're saying all of this to avoid the obvious: If Lucas had planned for Leia to be Luke's sister all along, this probably wouldn't have happened ...
None of this should diminish Star Wars in your mind -- it should do the opposite. All of that chaotic, slapdash bullshit came together to create a cultural phenomenon that will probably inspire generations of children long after we're dead. After the apocalypse, scavengers will dig up our Star Wars merchandise and trade it as currency. With this comes a lesson none of us should forget: The line between madness and genius is very thin indeed.
The material in this article originally appeared in 5 Classic Movies That Seemed Like Terrible Ideas At The Time, 6 Classic Series You Didn't Know Were Made Up On The Fly, 5 Dumb Accidents That Made 'Star Wars' A Classic, and 7 Terrible Early Versions of Great Movies, right here on Cracked!
Some of Lucas' best creations are a lot more adorable and significantly less murdery as plush toys.
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