Disney’s recently released Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the talk of the town, likely a popular conversation topic this Christmas. The movie shattered many records since its December 18th debut, becoming the fastest film to reach $1 billion at the box office, and was praised in most reviews.
Star Wars Episode VIII will hit theaters in late May 2017, with filming set to begin in the coming weeks. The official title of the second film in the third Star Wars trilogy is yet to be revealed, as Disney might not have settled on a final title. In fact, it appears that The Force Awakens wasn’t the original title for Episode VII.
LucasFilm creative executive Pablo Hidalgo revealed on Twitter that The Force Awakens was initially titled Shadow of the Empire. If that sounds familiar, that’s because that title is very similar to a 1996 story – Shadows of the Empire.
As The Verge explains, Shadows of the Empire takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and it’s spread across comics and a video game. There’s also a novel with the same title. However, that story is no longer canon, so it’s part of the expanded universe.
With that in mind, Disney could have used Shadow [singular] of the Empire for Star Wars VII, but ultimately chose to go with The Force Awakens – that particular decision isn’t explained.