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Apocalypse Now almost ruined Star Wars for George Lucas

Luckily we live in a world where George Lucas got to make his Star Wars movies, and Apocalypse Now exists as one of the best war movies, but we almost didn't.

George Lucas, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, and the helicopter shot from Apocalypse Now

Can you imagine living in a world without Star Wars? I certainly can’t, but there is a good chance that would be the case had George Lucas ended up fulfilling his duties as the director on Apocalypse Now as planned.

We can thank Star Wars for some of the best science fiction movies of all time, whether they are in the timeline from a galaxy far, far away or films that have drawn inspiration from George Lucas‘ incredible creations. Whenever we sit down to watch the Star Wars movies in order, we are reminded of how amazing it is that these stories exist at all.

However, it is likely we wouldn’t have any of the best Star Wars characters at all, were it not for the chaotic production of Apocalypse Now. How one of the best war movies of all time could lead to the success of the best sci-fi series is a fascinating journey through production hell, so join us, won’t you?

In a piece from The Independent on the making of Apocalypse Now, it is revealed just how difficult it was to get the film to the big screen. Thankfully, it all worked out in the end and we got one of the best movies of all time. It could all have been very different, though.

The original plan for Apocalypse Now was for George Lucas to direct the film, and bring it to life through a more guerrilla-style documentarian lens. Apparently, the shoot was going to take place during the Vietnam war, which is obviously not a great idea and no studio would finance the project.

As time went on and the production continued to stall, Lucas got itchy feet. You see, he had this little idea for a space opera that he wanted to do something with, too. So, when he finally got the chance to bring Star Wars to fruition, he leapt at the opportunity and left Apocalypse Now behind.

Francis Ford Coppola would go on to further establish himself as one of the best directors of all time by taking the reins for Apocalypse Now instead. After making The Godfather and its sequel, and one of the best thriller movies, The Conversation, Coppola continued an incredible run of filmmaking hits through the 1970s with his take on the Vietnam war.

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It’s funny how things work out, isn’t it? Had anyone backed Lucas and the initial direction for Apocalypse Now, there’s a good chance the film would not have been the success it was, Star Wars would probably never have happened, and Lucas might even have found himself victim to a “well-aimed bazooka shell.” Ultimately, Coppola was able to make Apocalypse Now “far greater, far more artistic and far more bonkers,” and we are grateful for that.

For more from a galaxy far, far away, here’s what we know about the new Star Wars movies, the Andor season 2 release date, and The Acolyte release date. If it’s war you like, you will probably be keen to learn about the Galactic Empire and the Rebellion, too. Or, you can look ahead to new movies on the way like The Marvels and Avatar 3, which are likely to contain their fair share of intergalactic violence.