Before shooting on Empire began, Hamill talked about how sequelitis had often ruined many a potential franchise.
“Everybody knows about the ‘curse’ of the sequel,” he mitigated in 1978. “But I think that Star Wars is a little bit different. It was not, for instance, the intention of the people who made Jaws to make a sequel.
“The intention with Star Wars was to make it a series right from the beginning. It all started with three films in mind. [George Lucas] set the stage… he set up a galaxy far, far away. Now he can go in many different directions."
There was also the benefit of continuing a much-loved, and well-received, story. “I think that in the second picture we’ll be able to do a lot of things that George wanted to do in the first but couldn’t, simply because then it was an unproved product," Hamill says.
“Now on the sequel we’re going to be able to take a lot more chances in the sense that now we have the Good Housekeeping seal of approval – which we didn’t have before.”
Meanwhile, Lucas was adamant that he didn’t need a studio to help him make the movie. Having had bad experiences with American Graffiti, which Universal Pictures had little faith in, he wanted to be able to make the movie he wanted.
Resolving to finance Empire himself, Lucas took out a personal bank loan for $33m (based on the financial success of the first SW), and signed a deal for 20th Century Fox to distribute the film.
“This was a perfect opportunity to become independent from the Hollywood system,” Lucas says in documentary Empire Of Dreams.
“I didn’t mind releasing it through them but it was really going to them for the money and them saying, ‘Well I like the script but I want to change…’
"That’s the part I wanted to avoid. I decided I was going to finance the film myself and I was going to make it completely independently.”
Lucas finally had everything he wanted – success, a burgeoning profitable franchise, and total creative control. But, oddly, he didn’t want to direct…