SuperShadow: You guys/gals ask us tons of prequel related questions, which we simply can't or won't answer. We don't know EVERYTHING about Ep 1 :) I sent a long list to one of my Lucasfilm buddies, who knows more about certain aspects of Ep 1 than I do, and here are the responses to your questions:
What's the big deal with keeping the title to Ep 1 such a secret?
"George is keeping the title underwraps for as long as possible in order to keep bootlegged merchandise at a low or near-nonexistent level for as long as possible. Once the official title is released then many bootleggers will start making phony Ep 1 t-shirts and posters with the title emblazoned on them . . . Also, George is upset that some have learned that Samuel Jackson's character is named Mace Windu. He is afraid that some Chinese toy factory is going to start pumping out a zillion Mace Windu figures and take advantage of Star Wars fans with shoddy workmanship and a lower quality than what we have all grown accustomed to from the wonderful people at Kenner and Hasbro. The official title will not be released for several months . . . By the way, George has once agained tightened security to insure that only the info. he wants released is released to the public"
Why all the ultra-high levels of security pre-cautions for Ep 1?
"There are many companies that will have invested millions of dollars in Ep 1 by the time of it's release. Lucasfilm expects to spend over $ 115 million just trying to finish the pic. And most of the other licensees will invest countless millions in producing and advertising prequel merchandise. The secrecy is needed to protect these large investments. George hopes that the film will be an enjoyable surprise for the masses. Also, he hopes the film is successful enough that he can make back his investment in the film and that the licensees will also make a fair profit. If Ep 1 makes less than a billion dollars world wide, many will consider it to be a failure. So there is tremendous pressure on everyone at Lucasfilm and at the licensees to keep what occurs in the movie as secret as humanly possible. You many laugh when I say that George is concerned about how the public accepts Ep 1, but remember he was also worried that Star Wars, the Empire Strikes Back and the Return of the Jedi were all going to be failures. George just likes to worry I guess."
What about all the character names like Padme, Sebulba, Qui- Gon, etc.?
"During the production of Ep 1, George released call sheets to many of the individuals who worked on the film. He didn't think that the revelation of certain character names to the public was all that big of a deal. So the security with these set lists was very lax. However, it back fired somewhat because most fans thought these names were fake or code names. Some are code names, but the vast majority are not. Once the names hit the net, Lucasfilm had to buy a bunch of domain names like darthmaul.com in order to beat others to the punch . . . The character names aren't all that important to the film. The secrecy of the plot is what is really important. And the vast majority of what occurs in the film remains a complete secret. George is an extremely smart individual."
Is the film on schedule to be released next May?
"Yes, the film remains on schedule for release next May. Probably on Tuesday, May 25. The rumors that the film or parts of the special-effects footage were damaged or lost is a complete hoax. Many fans have become frustrated by George's reluctance to give them much info. about the film. So this frustration leads to wild rumors. I'm sure most of the core fans find the wait unbearable, but believe me this film is going to be so spectacular that you will still be glued to your seats after the credits are finished rolling and the theater lights come on. If I were you, I would buy as many tickets to the early showings of Ep 1 as your theater will allow. It would be great if you would watch the 2 P.M. showing, the 4:30 P.M. showing, 7:00 P.M showing, 9:30 P.M. showing, etc. Make sure you watch the film as many times as you can in the first few days. We all hope at Lucasfilm that Ep 1 becomes the first film to earn $ 100 million in a weekend. We won't be able to complete that feat without the co-operation of you great fans!!"
Are you going to dress up like one of the Star Wars characters when you see the film?
"No. When and if we get this monumental and spectacular film in the can, George is going to have a private screening for his employees so that we can enjoy the fruits of our many years of labor in privacy. More work has been put into this film than any other Lucasfilm production in our history."
When will the Ep 1 games from LucasArts come out?
"You would have to ask someone over there for the answer to that question. But I would assume the games will be released shortly after the theatrical release of Ep 1."
Do Lucasfilm employees get profit participation in the prequels?
"Those who are intimately involved in the production of the film have been given 'percentage/profit points' in the film, which means the more successful Ep 1 is the more 'bonus' money we will receive. That's why I want you to see the film as many times as possible next summer!"
Do you have a copy of the Ep 1 script?
"The idea that there are a bunch of Ep 1 scripts laying around ILM or any other company at Lucasfilm is pure fiction. I've never even seen the complete script and don't want to see it. I don't want to get fired because George thinks I let something extremely important slip to the public. So the less we employees know about Ep 1, the better are job security is. If I don't know the info., then obviously I can't leak it to you or anyone else. Thusly, I can't have the finger pointed at me!!!"
Information about which character does George Lucas most want to keep secret?
"The character called Qui-Gon Jinn, which is played by Liam Neeson is one of the characters that George's wants nothing revealed about except for his character name and the fact that he is a venerable Jedi Master."
How does ILM work?
"Well, each employee is assigned to a team, which works on a specific effects sequence(s) for the film. The sequence that everybody wants to work on is the never-been-done-before 20 minute main battle sequence. Unfortunately, I wasn't selected for that sequence. I have one of the more complex sequences to work on (even if it's not one of the more glorious or most talked about effects shots that will be seen in the film) . . . The most frustrating part of the job is trying to capture George's vision as quickly as possible and as inexpensively as possible. Some of the things he has asked me to do in my team's sequence have never even been attempted before. You can ask George: 'How are we going to pull that off?' He replies with a smile: 'That's what I pay you guys to figure out.' Needless to say, we spend long hours (upwards of 16 hours a day) tinkering with the various effects shots. The real reward is when you finally start to see the finished product. It really is startling just exactly what we can do with digital animation these days. What I'm working on makes the synthetic digital dinosaurs in Jurassic Park look like stick figures. It is not possible for you to conceive of the unprecedented magnitude of this film. All I can say is that your eyes will see things on the screen that you will not believe you are really seeing. The final film product is what is going to make all these long years of work worth it."
Are you working on FX shots for Ep 2 or 3 yet?
"No. We're certainly developing the technology that will be used in those films now, but we won't start on those films until sometime in 2000 at the earliest."
Is it stressful working on the most anticipated film in cinematic history?
"Not for me. I don't have a dime invested in the film although the more profitable the film is the larger my profit participation will be. The only stress I feel is the extremely long work hours and the frustrations of frequently running into limitations with our current technology that forces us to overcome the limitations by writing new software. Some problems seem completely insurmountable, but we always somehow manage to find a solution. We're the best in the world at what we do you know!!"
(Source: Anonymous Lucasfilm Informant)
SuperShadow: Interesting answers to some of your most tantalizing questions. Stay tuned! Our source will answer more of your questions in the future!