Black Angel, the short film that ran before the original theatrical release of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, is being adapted into a full-length feature.
The 25-minute short was written and directed by Roger Christian, who had won a Set Design Oscar for his work on A New Hope, which included designing the first lightsaber and R2D2. Though influential in the fantasy genre, the original reels for Black Angel were lost until a few years back they were uncovered in Universal’s archives. After intensive restoration, the film was released online back in May, with Christian teasing more news to come. As many had anticipated, the news is indeed a full-length version of the “lost” short, which Christian himself will write and direct.
“It’s my passion project, has been for 35-36 years,” Christian told The Hollywood Reporter. “I guess ‘patience is a virtue’ is a true saying.”
Black Angel will enter production later this year on a $15 million budget. If that seems small for a blockbuster fantasy adventure, Christian isn’t concerned. “I can make a huge epic film with that,” he said. “I’m going down and dirty, I want the audience to smell the blood and the sweat and the tears. I’ll be doing fights in mud and rain.” Still, he’s seeking additional funding from an IndieGoGo fundraiser, with $32,545 of its $100,000 goal raised so far. “It may seem a small amount, but it all helps, and I think it’s very important to build you fanbase, and that’s what it does,” Christian said of turning to crowdsourcing.
He’s already lined up his stars, with John Rhys-Davies (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lord of the Rings) playing King Aeolus, Rutger Haurer (Blade Runner, Batman Begins, and everything in between) as High Priest Sirdar, and Laura Weissbecker (Jackie Chan’s Chinese Zodiac) as Kyna. More, “younger” casting is expected soon.
According to the IndieGoGo page, “The story follows a knight as he journeys deep into the dark underworld with the daughter of a rival king, to meet the face of evil itself and fight the Black Angel in combat. Full of drama, action and heroism, pure light is pitted against eternal darkness and damnation.”
Besides his Oscar-winning design work on the Star Wars series, Christian directed 1994’s Nostradamus and 2000’s Battlefield Earth, among other movies. He previously directed Rhys-Davies in his most recent film, Prisoners of the Sun. Below, watch the original Black Angel short.