Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the first anthology film in Lucasfilm’s franchise, but it was originally supposed to be the first live-action Star Wars television series.
ILM visual effects supervisor John Knoll told Comic Book Resources that the early concept for Rogue One came about in 2003. Revenge of the Sith, the final installment in the prequel trilogy, was just a couple of years from being released and the team at Lucasfilm was beginning to look beyond the film franchise to see how they could continue working in the world of Star Wars.
“One thought was, ‘What about a ‘Mission Impossible’-style break-in into the most secure facility in the Empire to steal the Death Star plans?,’” Knoll said. “‘There could be a lot of tension of potentially being discovered and overcoming security measures. That could be a lot of fun!’ I started tinkering with this idea internally.”
Unfortunately, when Knoll brought the idea to executives as Lucasfilm, it turned out the time period they wanted to set the show in and the vision they had for the project wasn’t what Knoll had in mind. By the time Knoll helped develop Rogue One, the movie had changed quite a bit.
Still, Lucasfilm and now Disney, haven’t given up on the idea of a live-action Star Wars TV show. Last fall, Disney-ABC Television president Ben Sherwood told The Hollywood Reporter that they still want to make a live-action series but it wouldn’t be until the main franchise was over. That means the earliest a TV series would appear is 2020, following the release of Episode IX in 2019.
“Somewhere we hope in a galaxy not too far away there will be a television show that will air on one of our networks,” Sherwood said. “But I wouldn’t get anybody’s hopes up too high. They have a lot of movies to make between now and then.”
A live-action Star Wars show, Star Wars: Underworld, was in development as far back as 2005, before Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney. It was cancelled following major setbacks with the script, a changeup of writers and creator George Lucas proclaiming they couldn’t secure the budget they needed.
The next installment in the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, will be released on Dec. 17.