‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Originally Had a Different Yet Familiar Title

     December 28, 2015


By now, many are aware that Star Wars: Episode VII did not miraculously begin with the story we now see onscreen. In fact, the story we see onscreen was even being tinkered with in the months up to release (see: Maz Kanata’s reshot scenes). So given the lengthy development period for Episode VII, it stands to reason that at one point or another, the film had a title other than The Force Awakens. Indeed it did, and now that alternate title has been revealed.

Pablo Hidalgo, a creative executive for Lucasfilm’s Story Group—which oversees story development on everything from the new films to games to comic books—revealed on Twitter (via /Film) that Episode VII was actually titled Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire for quite some time:



Image via Lucasfilm

If that title sounds familiar, you’re not crazy. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was the title of a 1996 Expanded Universe novel and also a Nintendo 64 video game. Now I highly doubt J.J. Abrams and original screenwriter Michael Arndt were mining the EU for story ideas, but it is a funny coincidence and one that I’m sure Lucasfilm was happy to avoid when the title became The Force Awakens.

Arndt previously revealed that one of the film’s original story ideas had the heroes searching for Darth Vader’s remains, and if Vader’s presence loomed large as the movie’s MacGuffin—including an onscreen appearance by Ghost Vader—the Shadow of the Empire title makes sense. As it stands now, though, with the story that Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan settled on, The Force Awakens is much more apt.

Here’s hoping more behind-the-scenes nuggets like this continue to eek out. I’m loving this stuff.


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