Well, this could have drastically changed the conversation about how The Force Awakens fits into the rest of the Star Wars saga: it almost shared the same name with one of the novels from the Expanded Universe.

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According to Pablo Hidalgo, a creative executive who sits on the LucasFilm Story Group, indicated that an early title for the latest Star Wars film was Shadow of the Empire.

The novel in question was Steven Perry’s 1996 book Shadows of the Empire, which took place between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The book was part of a practice multimedia campaign that included a coordinated video game and comics as LucasFilm prepared for re-releasing the original and prequel trilogies to theaters.

Shadows of the Empire doesn’t relate in any way to The Force Awakens, but had that happened, there would have been quite a lot of chatter in the Star Wars Expanded Universe community trying to figure out just how the film related to the EU, even as the EU went away.

The confusion between the book (which is still in print) and the eventual film probably means that the change was a good one: confusion from reviewers and casual movie-goers who read the book and picked it up would be a huge topic of discussion across the internet, something that LucasFilm probably didn’t want as they eliminated the Expanded Universe.

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[Twitter, Verge]