While it’s not uncommon for films to change their names during filming, or even film under fake titles, for a while The Force Awakens was going by a name many Star Wars fans already know and love. According to Lucasfilm story editor Pablo Hidalgo — whose job is to keep all aspects of the Star Wars saga coherent — before being titled The Force Awakens, the movie was known as “Shadow of the Empire.” Which sounds A LOT like the Star Wars novel, Shadows of the Empire, released back in 1996.
If you didn’t spend your childhood summers reading every single Star Wars book in the library, this name might mean nothing to you. BUT IF you spend your childhood summers reading every single Star Wars book in the library, and asked for even more for Christmas, this title is very exciting.
Shadows of the Empire was set between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and filled in some gaps in the story. With Han Solo still frozen in carbonite, Princess Leia sets off to track down Boba Fett, while Luke Skywalker begins building a new lightsaber (since his was lost at the end of Empire). It was a widely popular book, and even expanded to a comic series, a video game, and a soundtrack, all with the same name and based around the same story. But it’s by no means the story the once-titled Episode VII: Shadow of the Empire was going to follow.
With over 200 books in the Star Wars expanded universe, it’s going to be impossible not to overlap some events and plot points, and in this case, names. And even though it’s no longer the Star Wars story being followed, checking out the book wouldn’t be the worst way to pass the time between now and Episode VIII.
(Image via Lucasfilm)