An Alternate Rise of the Blockbuster

Speaking of Aliens, is Alien still made ITTL and directed by Ridley Scott? I think the success of Close Encounters is enough to convince the Fox brass to greenlight Alien's budget, plus to convince Scott to take the job. IOTL, it was the success of Star Wars that convinced the heads at Fox, but I don't think there'll be much difference if these events happened later in 1977, rather than earlier.
Shit, I knew that but I'd forgotten about it. Well, it appears as if Ridley Scott got the job to direct Alien on the strength of his debut film The Duellists, which was released in the UK and USA after Close Encounters, so that still works. Long story short: Alien is pretty much exactly the same. :)

Also, FTR: Do the elections of 1976 and 1980 play out essentially the same as OTL?
Yes. I might eventually work in some political changes, but not for a while. I'd like to keep this TL entertainment-focused.

Next update will be about The Star Wars again, Chapters II and III.
 
When is "around this time"? :p I'm jumping back & forth all over the place here.

I do have something in mind for David Cronenberg in the future. For Lynch... I don't know, I haven't decided what happens to the Dune movie quite yet, and if Lynch takes the job in TTL. For now I guess you can assume that they're doing much the same stuff they were doing in OTL -- with a lot of little details that are different, perhaps, but broad strokes that are the same.

I don't really like to change stuff without being able to link some kind of cause to it based on what's changed before. Partly because I think it's kind of cheating to just shrug my shoulders and go "butterflies!" Partly because I'm a lazy bastard.
 
When is "around this time"? :p I'm jumping back & forth all over the place here.

I do have something in mind for David Cronenberg in the future. For Lynch... I don't know, I haven't decided what happens to the Dune movie quite yet, and if Lynch takes the job in TTL. For now I guess you can assume that they're doing much the same stuff they were doing in OTL -- with a lot of little details that are different, perhaps, but broad strokes that are the same.

I don't really like to change stuff without being able to link some kind of cause to it based on what's changed before. Partly because I think it's kind of cheating to just shrug my shoulders and go "butterflies!" Partly because I'm a lazy bastard.
Without Dune, we might see Lynch go towards slightly more accessible work like in his The Elephant Man, and get some serious popular acclaim in addition to the critical plaudits.
 
Update #8 -- the making of Chapters II and III of The Star Wars.

---

When The Star Wars – Chapter II: Quest for the Kiber Crystal was released in December 1980, expectations were that it would do almost as well as the original film but not quite measure up. Diminishing returns on sequels were almost considered a fact of life, even when the sequel could be considered better than the original: this had been seen only the previous year with Superman II being less successful than Superman, as well as six years earlier with The Godfather Part II grossing $75 million less than The Godfather.

The opening weekend gross for Quest for the Kiber Crystal seemed to bear that out, with less of an enthusiastic reception than The Star Wars had received… but then, unexpectedly, audiences kept coming back. Ticket sales remained consistently high for the film over a longer period than they had for the original, with more people returning for repeat viewings or being persuaded to see the film in later screenings via favourable word-of-mouth. Ultimately, The Star Wars – Chapter II: Quest for the Kiber Crystal would end up doing better than the first film had done, being the first film in the series to break the $200 million mark domestically.

The most simple reason for why the second film had defied conventional wisdom in being more profitable than the first was that the original film had merely had bad luck in its box office returns, and deserved to be more profitable than it was. Although this probably did play a part in it, critical consensus was that Quest for the Kiber Crystal was the better film of the two. Part of this was a matter of many of the rough edges present in The Star Wars having smoothed over for the sequel: Bill Mumy and Carrie Fisher had grown more comfortable in their roles as Luke and Leia, particularly as the characters’ romantic relationship progressed in the sequel; LeVar Burton’s Han Solo had also evolved, becoming less obnoxious and more heroic in his own way while still retaining his sarcastic wit; the story had a more clear-cut and straightforward mission for the heroes, giving their actions a greater sense of purpose, and the characters’ dialogue was much smoother and more natural-sounding; visual effects had also improved, with the lasersword effects (which were sometimes faulty in the original) having been perfected. Aside from all these reasons, however, another major attraction for the audience was the new villain.

In planning the story for the sequel during the production of The Star Wars, George Lucas had decided that a new villain would be needed in a position of authority after the death of Governor Hoedaack. This new character was one that had been referred to in passing in the original film: Prince Annikin Valorum, leader of the Knights of the Sith and immediate superior to Lord Darth Vader. While Hoedaack had been a gaunt elderly character who was nonetheless cold and ruthless, and Vader (who of course returned for the sequel as the main focal villain) was tall, imposing and powerful, Valorum was evil in an entirely different way. He smiled. He was unfailingly polite. He was even strangely charming. And he had the absolute conviction that everything he did was right – to the point that after talking with him for too long, you almost believed that you were as foolish and sadly misguided to oppose him as he thought you were.

The actor who had come to play the role of Prince Valorum was not well known to audiences at large, his previous acting experience being mostly confined to low-budget B-movies where he had specialised in playing psychopathic villains. But at one time in his life, he had been practically a superstar among the Pentecostal Christian subculture of the United States. His name was Marjoe Gortner: formerly the youngest ever ordained minister in the world, child preacher from ages four to sixteen and adult preacher in his mid-twenties, lifelong atheist, and subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Marjoe – and, incidentally, the soon-to-be-ex-husband of actress Candy Clark (who had appeared in American Graffiti and had been considered for the role of Princess Leia).

The filmmakers had given Marjoe Gortner the role of Valorum with one condition: his distinctive tawny-coloured long curly locks were judged unsuitable for the Dark Prince of the Sith. With some regret, but a feeling it would be worth it, Gortner had shaved his hair down to a crew-cut. And it was worth it: just as Harrison Ford was praised as a stand-out actor in the original film, Gortner’s fairly brief yet chilling performance as Prince Valorum turned out to be a major draw to the film. It was guaranteed that Valorum would again appear in Chapter III of The Star Wars series, this time in a bigger role.

The third film in the series – which would be titled The Star Wars – Chapter III: Return of the Jedi – was fast-tracked in a similar manner to the second film, with a release date set for early June 1982. And although George Lucas had intended to have a hands-off approach to all the sequels to The Star Wars, essentially leaving the directors and screenwriters to their own devices after providing them with an initial treatment for the movie, this was one film where he felt he had to break his own rule: it was entirely possible that Chapter III would be the last film in the series, as the three major leads had only signed contracts committing them to three films with each individual subsequent movie having to be re-negotiated. Therefore, this film had to serve as a satisfactory ending for a trilogy while still leaving room open for more sequels to come – and Lucas had some very definite ideas about what he wanted that conclusion to involve. Luke Skywalker would have to directly confront the man who killed his father and settle the conflict between them once and for all.

Additionally, it might be the last opportunity Lucas had to feature ideas that had been rejected from previous drafts that he still wanted to use. Over five years after the debacle in the Philippines, Lucas was finally ready to return to the jungle. A species of flying whales, initially conceived as living in the breathable atmosphere of the gas giant Alderaan, would also finally make an appearance. And an army of Wookees being pitted against an Imperial outpost would also finally make it to the big screen.

Thus, unlike on Quest for the Kiber Crystal where screenwriter Alan Dean Foster was more or less given free reign, Return of the Jedi saw George Lucas working quite closely with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (who had been quite extraordinarily busy, now seeing three movies that he had written over three years each being released within sixteen months of each other) to ensure the story was as he wanted it. The job of director was given to a newcomer to feature films named Tony Scott, a talented Englishman whose work thus far had been mainly limited to commercials but was now intending to break into Hollywood. Tony Scott was in fact the younger brother of Ridley Scott, who had recently had his first big hit with Alien and was now working on a big project for Warner Bros.

Prince Valorum did indeed return for a more prominent role in the third film, being the main driving force behind the subplot involving Luke Skywalker (by attempting to manipulate Luke into killing Lord Vader in revenge, so that Luke would fall to the Bogan Force and be swayed to join the Knights of the Sith). As a way of possibly writing Han Solo out of the series should LeVar Burton decide not to renew his contract (as Burton had become an actor in demand, having been booked to star in other movies which were filming both before and after Return of the Jedi’s principal photography), that character’s story ended ambiguously with him sacrificing himself by allowing himself to be captured so that the others can escape from an Imperial ambush – Solo is then frozen in “carbonite” and given to a bounty hunter who has been hired by none other than Captain Oxus. The same ambush would also be used to kill off the character of Jedi mentor Akira Dainoga, who with his final breaths would reveal to Luke that in addition to killing his father, Vader had also taken Luke’s twin sister Zara to be raised by the Sith.

The Wookee army ended up going through various guises: at first Lucas was unsure about whether they still fit, with tech-savvy Wookee co-pilot Chewbacca having been a major supporting character throughout the three films, and considered replacing them with smaller (and more commercially marketable) jungle-dwelling furry aliens instead. Eventually he and Kasdan hit upon the idea of making the Wookees slaves of the Empire (as Chewbacca had been) and making the smaller, cuter aliens a tribe of Wookee children who had escaped from the labour camp. Return of the Jedi would thus include many very tall and very short actors; actors who played the Wookee children included R2-D2 operator Jack Purvis as their chief, as well as an eleven-year-old boy named Warwick Davis playing the small Wookee who first encounters Princess Leia in the jungles of the Sanctuary Moon.

The title referred to Luke Skywalker assuming the title of Jedi Knight at the climax of the movie: after briefly being overcome by his anger and hatred – attacking Vader, disarming him and wounding him – he finally pulls himself back from the brink and refuses to kill him, declaring “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” Prince Valorum then tortures Luke with Bogan Force lightning emanating from his hands, before Luke is saved by Leia and the Wookee slaves overrunning the Imperial base. The wounded Lord Vader is also finally killed in the fighting, overwhelmed by sheer numbers, while Prince Valorum escapes – clearly, to feature as the main villain in any possible sequels.

In the end, the Empire was not defeated and the fight of the Rebellion still went on. But Luke, Leia and Han had each undergone full character arcs over the three films that gave Return of the Jedi a sense of closure, and other major characters such as Akira, Vader and General Dodona each met their end in the film as well. While it would be easy to continue the series with further sequels – particularly given the blatant hooks of Luke’s sister and Valorum’s continued survival – had the series not continued the trilogy would still have felt full and complete.

The release of The Star Wars – Chapter III: Return of the Jedi was a major event of the summer: the improved performance of Quest for the Kiber Crystal meant that expectations were higher for Chapter III. And while the film only occupied #1 at the box office for its opening weekend before the spot was reclaimed by Captain America, its opening weekend revenue was higher than both its predecessors and eventually it would edge out Quest for the Kiber Crystal to become the highest-earning The Star Wars film at the domestic box office (although the second film would remain the highest-earning internationally). Return of the Jedi would ultimately be the second-highest-earning film of the year, trailing Captain America but scraping ahead of Richard Lester’s Superman III.

Tony Scott’s direction was praised, and he soon moved on to the job of directing an adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire for Paramount Pictures. Lawrence Kasdan, for his part, felt rather burned out by the end of it, which was likely a factor in his refusing the offer to write the screenplay for Temple of Doom: The Adventures of Indiana Jones. And the three lead actors each began negotiations through their agents to reprise their roles for a fourth instalment. Rather than being rushed to production, for this film everyone involved would take their time. During this time, Bill Mumy took the opportunity to regrow his beard – the significance of Mumy’s facial hair regarding whether he would be returning to the role or not was endlessly discussed in the gossip press.

In the end, all three agreed to return. Although LeVar Burton could only commit to a reduced filming schedule and so would have less of a presence in the film, all three leads would appear in The Star Wars – Chapter IV. Marjoe Gortner also gladly signed on once again to play Prince Valorum. And on the crew side of things, George Lucas had someone in particular in mind to be both director and screenwriter: a certain Canadian who had caught Lucas’s attention…

---

Notes: this should give you some idea of what the sequels to The Star Wars are like in TTL, and how they differ from OTL. For instance, Han & Leia don't get to be in a romantic relationship (it's circa 1980 -- sorry, but with a black Han it's not gonna happen). Instead, Luke & Leia are the ones who get paired off romantically rather than suddenly discovering they're brother and sister (which was one of the most ham-fistedly contrived ways of resolving a love triangle I have ever encountered). The idea of Luke having a twin sister (which was around for a while in OTL, being used in Leigh Brackett's 1978 first draft of The Empire Strikes Back) is instead used in a different way, with the sister Zara being a totally separate character to Leia. The name "Zara" comes from the revised first draft of the original film, as a new name for Leia that was changed back in later drafts.

Speaking of names, Prince Valorum also comes from the original film's first draft (although there his name is "Espaa Valorum"; the name "Annikin" is the first name of that draft's 18-year-old hero, Annikin Starkiller.) But this Prince Valorum is a very different character to the one found in that draft: the old Valorum was written as fundamentally a man of honour who just happened to belong to a rival sect to the Jedi-Bendu, and would end up defecting to help the heroes against the villainous New Empire. The Prince Valorum seen in the sequels here is not a man of honour, but rather is fundamentally self-serving: his support for the Empire is a matter of supporting the institution that can give him the most power while he isn't in a direct and thus vulnerable position of political authority.

If you want to watch the documentary "Marjoe", here's the whole thing on Youtube. In OTL, Gortner never really got a "big break": he continued acting in B-movies until 1995, then got a gig organising charity golf tournaments (yep, I guess that's a thing :confused:) and as of two years ago he's retired. Thing is, he was actually a pretty good actor.

"Wookee" is actually the original spelling of "Wookiee". You'll see that I'm basically including both Wookiees and alt!Ewoks in this film. And yes, I'll freely admit that the reason why I'm doing that (and why I decided to "fast-track" the sequels at all) is because I wanted to preserve the career of Warwick Davis. I don't give a shit, he's cool.

And, yeah, in this universe Vader isn't Luke's father. Sorry, but that story idea has been butterflied away: in OTL, Lucas only thought of it while writing The Empire Strikes Back's second draft. So Akira's story actually was true: Vader actually did kill Luke's father. And in case you're wondering what Luke's father's name was: I didn't have a place where I could work it into the update, but it's "Deak". Luke Skywalker is the son of Deak Skywalker.

Tony Scott almost made an adaptation of Interview with the Vampire for Paramount in the early '80s, but instead he made a different vampire movie for his feature film debut: The Hunger, which was poorly received. By the way, you will find out what Ridley is doing.

So... there will be a fourth Star Wars film. At least. And Luke will have a beard in it. And that last sentence should be a fairly big clue as to who the writer/director is...
 
Last edited:
And, yeah, in this universe Vader isn't Luke's father. Sorry, but that story idea has been butterflied away: in OTL, Lucas only thought of it while writing The Empire Strikes Back's second draft. So Akira's story actually was true: Vader actually did kill Luke's father. And in case you're wondering what Luke's father's name was: I didn't have a place where I could work it into the update, but it's "Deak". Luke Skywalker is the son of Deak Skywalker.
Ah man... :(
 

Indiana Beach Crow

Monthly Donor
So can we assume that Tony Scott directed this film closer to his "I'm a competent director of big budget blockbusters" technique, such as with Top Gun or Crimson Tide, instead of his current "My movies are filmed and edited by an epileptic meth head" style, like in Domino or Deja Vu?
 
1. What effect, if any, would these blockbuster movies have on the tv networks? BSGs been done, but would there have been even more of an explosion of shows in the genre. Maybe the Star Wars special gets better treatment.

2. Would the BBC been tempted to let a Dr. Who film be made in this TL? I think Dr Who had been fading in popularity during the early 80's.

3. Could the forces behind Blake's 7 and Red Dwarf be drawn more to Hollywood to try to get their ideas onto the big screen.
 
And on the crew side of things, George Lucas had someone in particular in mind to be both director and screenwriter: a certain Canadian who had caught Lucas’s attention…
HOLY SHIT!!! Please tell me James Cameron still does The Terminator with Ah-Nold ITTL, and Aliens as well! He invented the modern female action hero. Please ensure that they're big successes. Also, can you please have Sigourney Weaver win the Best Actress Oscar for playing Ripley in Aliens?
 
The Star Wars outcome makes perfect sense. You also have a talent for putting together a story that I could easily see playing out on the big screen in a manner just as enthralling as the original trilogy (Or more so. I admit to finding the holy trilogy just a touch overrated.).

Especially interested in seeing where Lynch ends up. I'd always thought that if it weren't for the failure of Dune, he could have brought a new level of artistic credibility to mainstream Hollywood. Of course, you may have him directing donkey show films down in Tijuana depending on how things go, so I'll just wait and see.
 
HOLY SHIT!!! Please tell me James Cameron still does The Terminator with Ah-Nold ITTL, and Aliens as well!
James Cameron? Please let him put Arnold Schwarzenegger in Star Wars.
:D

No, not him. Another Canadian. When I wrote that I'd honestly forgotten that James Cameron was Canadian.
 
Umm this alternate Star wars will be better franchise without looking as a rehash of the original in the Extended Universe or with very mad plot twist(prequels), heck even Luke Dad's prequel would be more interesting...
 
ColeMercury said:
enlisted Alan Dean Foster to write the screenplay
An excellent choice, if the adaptations are any indication.:cool:

Is there any impact the awful adaptation of Dune?:eek::eek: Either a much better film,:cool: or it never gets made... As for "Bladerunner", don't forget, Harrison's been around long enough to get the attention of casting directors: as far back as '75, in "The Conversation" (his debut IIRC).
 
Last edited:
Top