Black Angel, the 25-minute fantasy short commissioned by George Lucas that screened before The Empire Strikes Back and was promptly lost, is getting the feature-film treatment. Roger Christian, the Academy Award-winning set designer who made his directorial debut on Black Angel and went on to direct a number of films—including the also legendary, but for different reasons, Battlefield Earth—is set to write and direct the expanded film. “It’s my passion project, has been for 35-36 years,” Christian says. Rutger Hauer and Lord Of The Rings’ John Rhys-Davies are set to star.
Much like the original Star Wars trilogy, Christian says that the expanded Black Angel will be influenced by classic samurai films. (The original was reportedly a big influence on John Boorman’s 1981 fantasy film Excalibur.) “With flying demons and sorcerers, princesses and knights, armies of the undead and an evil god of the underworld, we are filming down and dirty,” Christian tells Variety. ”Ultimate realism that audiences hunger for and the world I am passionate to create on film again.” That means practical effects, with CGI added “only when absolutely required.”
Although George Lucas has given his blessing to the project, neither he nor Disney are involved with Black Angel, which is being partially financed by investors in Belgium, Hungary, Canada, and the U.K. Christian and his crew are hoping to raise the rest of the money with an Indiegogo campaign, which launched earlier today and has a goal of $100,000. ($33,415 had already been raised at the time of this writing, so things are looking good.) Perks include the usual Blu-rays, T-shirts, and tickets to screenings, as well as opportunities to appear as an extra in the film or receive a one-week mentorship from members of the production and post-production crew. For $20,000, one rich Star Wars nerd can also buy a piece of the original Star Wars film negative that Lucas donated to the campaign.
After its initial theatrical run, all existing prints of Black Angel were thought to be lost, until an archivist at Universal Studios discovered a negative in 2011. A full version of the film popped up on YouTube earlier this year, and you can watch it below.