Fox warned George Lucas about telling the story of young Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels. The studio reportedly told Lucas that including the young Anakin storyline would “ruin the franchise.” Jake Lloyd took on the role in 1999’s The Phantom Menace and fans weren’t exactly happy with the entire movie at the time of its release, though Lucas never really seemed to care. Now that over 20 years have gone by, younger Star Wars fans are warming up to the prequel trilogy and the stories it told.
In the upcoming second volume of The Star Wars Archives (1999-2005) book, George Lucas talks about bringing his prequel ideas to Fox. “You’re going to destroy the franchise; you’re going to destroy everything!” Lucas recalls, adding that he spoke to the Lucasfilm crew and said he was “making a movie that nobody wants to see.” After The Phantom Menace opened in theaters, and broke records, Lucas admitted that the movie would have been “more marketable” had he gone with a teenaged Anakin and an 18-year-old Padm&é Amidala. However, Lucas ultimately made the movie that he wanted to have fans see.
George Lucas maintained that telling the younger Anakin Skywalker story was always his intention. For the Star Wars creator, he had to go back to the beginning to show the young Anakin before introducing the teenaged version of the character. “The fans’ expectations had gotten way high and they wanted a film that was going to change their lives and be the Second Coming,” said Lucas in 1999. “You know, I can’t do that, it’s just a movie. And I can’t say, now I gotta market it to a whole different audience. I tell the story.”
While a lot has changed since 1999, Star Wars fandom has remained just as passionate, though the internet has helped to amplify that. “I knew if I’d made Anakin 15 instead of nine, then it would have been more marketable,” says Lucas as he looks back. “If I’d made the Queen 18 instead of 14, then it would have been more marketable. But that isn’t the story.” Lucas felt that the story as a whole would be more powerful if fans saw a younger Anakin leaving his mother, as opposed to the opposite.
In 1999, George Lucas referred to Attack of the Clones as a “love story” and noted that Revenge of the Sith was going to be “very, very, very dark.” He went on to make a prediction about the third installment in the prequel trilogy. “People think of the Star Wars movies as happy movies. What they’re going to do about a tragedy, I don’t know. It will probably be the least successful of all the Star Wars movies – but I know that.” As it turned out, Lucas was bit off about what the fans ended up liking about the prequels. However, that seems to be changing all of the time as new generations get into the franchise. You can head over to Taschen to get purchasing information for The Star Wars Archives (1999-2005). The book is up for pre-order and will be out on December 13th.