Before The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars, there was another intriguing Star Wars series in works. The untitled show often referred to as Star Wars: Underworld was developed by George Lucas himself but was abandoned after Disney acquired Lucasfilm. Outlander showrunner Ronald D. Moore served as a writer on the shelved series, and he recently revealed that the show had nearly 48 completed scripts before it was scrapped.
Writer Ronald D. Moore says the series had over 40 scripts
In an interview with Collider, Moore talked about the development of the Star Wars: Underworld series. He revealed that Lucas was there every step of the way, giving writers feedback and advice.
“I was one of several, there was a bunch of international writers they assembled,” said Moore. “We would gather up at Skywalker Ranch once every six to eight weeks, something like that. And we would break stories together, and right after we’d go off and write some drafts and bring ‘em back, and George and we would sit down and critique them, and then do another draft and break more stories.”
Moore said he had a “ball” while writing the series. But after Lucas and the writers developed dozens of scripts, the show was shelved.
“It didn’t happen ultimately, we wrote I’d say somewhere in the 40-something, 48 scripts, something like that,” he explained. “The theory was George wanted to write all the scripts and get them all done. And then he was going to go off and figure out how to produce them, because he wanted to do a lot of cutting edge technological stuff with CG and virtual sets and so on — And what happened was, you know, we wrote the scripts and then George said ‘OK, this is enough for now, and then I’ll get back to you, I want to look into all the production things.’ And then time went by and like a year or something after that is when he sold Lucasfilm to Disney.”
Geroge Lucas had an epic vision for the series
Lucas had an epic vision for Star Wars; Underworld, Moore told Collider. During development, the filmmaker asked writers to make it as big as they could imagine, with no budget constraints in mind.
“At the time, George just said ‘write them as big as you want, and we’ll figure it out later,’” Moore revealed. “So we really had no constraints. We were all experienced television and feature writers, so we all kind of new what was theoretically possible on a production budget. But we just went, ‘For this pass, OK let’s just take him at his word just to make it crazy and big’ and there was lots of action, lots of sets, and huge set pieces, just much bigger than what you would normally do in a television show.”
Moore also said the series — which leaked footage suggests would have taken place after the events of Revenge of the Sith — would have told “one long tale with episodic things that would happen” over its seasons.
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Why the ‘Star Wars Underworld’ series was shelved
With nearly 48 scripts, this new Star Wars series could have easily had between four and six seasons, which would have been a real treat for fans. However, from what it seems, the show was shelved because of how expensive it would be to produce.
In a 2011 interview with G4’s Attack of the Show, Lucas explained that the shelved series is like a Star Wars movie in terms of budget and production. So until the studios find a cheaper way to produce it, it would remain undeveloped.
“Right now, it looks like the Star Wars features, but we have to figure out how to make it at about a tenth of the cost of the features because it’s television,” said Lucas. “We are working toward that, and we continue to work towards that. We will get there at some point. It’s just a very difficult process.”