Star Wars: 1313 Was Our Best Glimpse Into Star Wars: Underworld.
Yesterday morning, IGN ran an article and a short video about how they saw fifteen minutes of the Star Wars 1313 demo we were supposed to get for E3 this year. The art work was compelling. Some we have seen before, some seemed new. It depicted the further adventures of Boba Fett. After Star Wars: The Clone Wars Boba was last seen breaking out of prison and then pulling a heist involving human trafficking that backfired big time on him.
The coolest thing about Star Wars 1313 is it gives us an insight into an aspect of the Star Wars Live Action Series which was tentatively titled Star Wars Underworld. McCallum once called the scripts the most “provocative, bold and daring material that we’ve ever done.”
Star Wars Underworld or the “live action television series” for which George Lucas had three seasons of sixteen forty five minute episodes in script form, concept art, and probably pre-viz has been around since Star Wars Celebration III where it was announced. The Clone Wars hinted at the Star Wars underworld on level 1313 since the second season, and the canceled Star Wars: 1313 would have delved into that universe via video game form (and novels I assume). The connections between Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: 1313 are fairly coherent. For instance, The C21 Highsinger droid is first glimpsed in Star Wars: The Clone Wars as part of Boba Fett’s gang. It appears that droid, which we now see in IGN’s 1313 concept art stayed with Boba Fett for a while, maybe even being an important part of his career. We have also seen gangsters in Star Wars: The Clone Wars like the Pykes, which are rumored to have been in Star Wars: Underworld. So we can see a continuity between The Clone Wars, 1313, and Underworld, all stories written in the same era at around the same time. So it makes sense to think what we are seeing from 1313 lines up with Underworld fairly well. If we should get that Boba Fett spin-off movie, it could potentially feature Boba Fett looking like he does in these concept images and having C21 with him along for the ride.
One of the reasons The Clone Wars started off aimed at such a young audience was that Star Wars Underworld was going to appease the older fans while The Clone Wars appeased the youngsters. As Star Wars Underworld’s production was bogged down by delay after delay, The Clone Wars grew up a lot.
Star Wars 1313 seemed like it was going to be a likely bridge between the young audience and the older audience. During the production of the game, the main character changed a few times. The first glimpse of the game we ever saw had place holder characters. The later iteration we heard was that Boba Fett was to be the main character of the game, finally giving us that chance to play as Star Wars fan’s favorite bounty hunter (I’m a Cad Bane man myself).
Star Wars: Underworld sounded fantastic on paper and in interviews. What we saw of Star Wars: 1313 pretty much backs those words up on the visual side as well. It had solid writers behind it, with Ronald D. Moore from Battlestar Galactica serving as the show-runner. The story was said to surround an epic feud between two crime families fighting for control of Coruscant’s underworld, deep in the belly of the planet’s core.
The concept is so good, I hope we get a film series out of it at one point. It was going to be a space opera’s retelling of The Godfather. It was often compared to Deadwood and Rome by Rick McCallum. It was going to show us how the underworld came into play with black markets and corruption under imperialism and how that same corruption also armed the rebellion. We saw this to a very small extent via Hondo in the final televised season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Unfortunately, Lucas refused to allow his own imagination and the imaginations of his writing staff to be hindered by a television budget. The cost per episode was nearing at least 5 million per episode. Lucasfilm refused to give up the rights or share the rights with HBO and a deal could never be struck to air it on cable or premium channels. Lucas and McCallum’s only option was on national television, but channels like Fox thought it was too risky without owning a piece of the pie themselves. With each season costing $80-100 million, no one was willing to take that risk.
The Nerdist revealed Stephen Scaia was one of the writers on Star Wars Underworld and divulged this information:
In describing breaking a scene with a “fan favorite character” flying around in his jet pack, apparently Lucas told Scaia that he had not had this much fun in a writer’s room since Raiders of the Lost Arc when they where breaking the truck chase scene.
They are most likely referring to Boba Fett when they say “fan favorite character.”
Scaia describes the scripts as “completely unproducable” apparently Lucas’ direction was to “make it awesome” and not worry about the practicalities of production.
Boba was always rumored to appear in Star Wars: Underworld and when 1313 decided to use him as the hero, I think things probably started to gel together even more closely at that point. The actions Boba makes in the game clearly cannot step on the toes of the actions Boba makes in the television series’ scripts.
With the Nerdist’s quotes in mind, it is sort of telling we got a sequel trilogy in the end. Apparently, Lucas was not willing to lay down the intensity and scope of Star Wars for television. For years I wondered about this approach and thought to myself “they should just make more movies instead of passing up on the money which will fund more Star Wars.” Apparently that became the route once the cost cutting measures they were seeking did not hit a level appropriate to green light the project and set a filming date.
Rick McCallum was working on ways to revolutionize the production pipeline in films. The pipeline as it exists has been based on outdated methods which are carried out today more out of tradition than practicality. In doing so, they were going to be able to make film quality effects and sets on television. Lucas and McCallum saw a total merger of film and television as the film industry imploded and television imploded simultaneously (Spielberg and Lucas just said as much and made a media splash with their words). They came close to their ideal production pipeline with Red Tails. But they still had a ways to go and unfortunately, George Lucas’ personal life once again became a priority and he retired, sold Lucasfilm to Disney, got married, and had a baby all before that dream could be realized (good for him!). Of course, on the positive side for us enthusiasts, that lead to Star Wars Episode VII and the sequel trilogy.
I was in the packed theater with George Lucas, after having stood outside overnight in snow to see him when he announced the live action television series for the first time. Now, eight years later, the most we have seen of the live action television series is that tiny logo posted at the top of this article. It really makes me happy to see anything, but at the same time, I can’t help but be letdown by what we could have had. Hopefully this project moves forward one day and we get to see George Lucas’ last Star Wars tale set in the Star Wars Galaxy.
IGN quoted the president of ABC on Star Wars: Underworld stating “We’ve started conversations.” That was back in early August and we have not heard anything since. It is hope. I’m not letting go! Maybe it can become a film series unto itself? Maybe the cheaper parts can air on television while the bigger parts are feature films?
I hope to one day have the chance to read the Star Wars: Underworld scripts. I want to know that story. I hope Star Wars Underworld and Star Wars 1313 find their way to use somehow while keeping the original spirit alive.
We learned a few months back that Star Wars 1313 was put on hold and canceled following the dismantling of Lucasarts. I was really bummed out when that news hit. If we weren’t going to get Star Wars Underworld, maybe Star Wars 1313 will drum up interest and get that moving, I used to hope. Now that seems even more unlikely. IGN does not think we will ever see Star Wars 1313. Yet there are still rumblings the game could come about still and I hope when it does and it is a smashing success, it creates a solid demand for Star Wars: Underworld, an idea worth telling.