The Scripts of Star Wars

The Scripts of Star Wars

A list of all known scripts of the films of the Skywalker Saga.

Image for postTitle page for The Star Wars ?Story Synopsis? from May 1973. From The Cinema of George Lucas by Marcus Hearn.

This is a compilation of all known scripts for the films of the Star Wars Skywalker Saga. Treatments will be included but outlines will not. Only significant versions of scripts are included. If small changes were made while shooting, those are not tracked. A note about that last part: small script revisions that are made during filming are routinely color-coded with the color of the paper they are printed on so cast and crew can easily spot changes. They can appear on the script like this, from a leaked draft of Attack of the Clones:

Second Draft, June 24, 2000Pink Revisions, June 28, 2000Blue Revisions, July 3, 2000Green Revisions, July 5, 2000

These types of revisions will not be tracked here. But if a draft is said to be ?revised,? that usually means a more substantial change. Like this from a leaked draft of The Phantom Menace:

Third DraftMay 13, 1997Revised June 6, 1997

These revised drafts will be tracked here.

Original Trilogy

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Image for postCover of The Star Wars ?Story Synopsis? from May 1973.

George Lucas began working on his space opera idea in early 1973 after completing his final cut of American Graffiti in December 1972 and failing to secure the rights to Flash Gordon. His first attempt was a very short treatment he called the ?Journal of the Whills.? Nobody could understand it, so he scrapped it and started over with a 13-page treatment. United Artists, Universal Studios, and Walt Disney Pictures all turned it down before 20th Century Fox greenlit it.

Source: The Making of Star Wars by J. W. Rinzler.

(All drafts are written by George Lucas. All have leaked, except the full Journal of the Whills outline/treatment.)

  • Journal of the Whills (1 and a half page partial handwritten outline ? 1973)
  • The Star Wars (Story Synopsis)(Treatment ? May 1973) (Leaked)
  • The Star Wars (Rough Draft ? May 1974) (Leaked)
  • The Star Wars (First Draft ? July 1974) (Leaked)
  • Adventures of the Starkiller. Episode I: The Star Wars (Second Draft ? January 28th, 1975) (Leaked)
  • The Star Wars: From the Adventures of the Starkiller (Third Draft ? August 1st, 1975) (Leaked)
  • The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills. Saga I: The Star Wars (Fourth Draft ? January 1st, 1976) (Leaked)
  • The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills. Saga I: The Star Wars (Revised Fourth Draft ?March 15th, 1976) (Includes contributions from Willard and Gloria Huyck) (Leaked)

Notes:

  • The rough draft and first draft are essentially identical. Names of characters and places were changed, but events and dialogue were the same.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Image for postThe first page of George Lucas? handwritten treatment for The Empire Strikes Back. From The Cinema of George Lucas by Marcus Hearn.

In late 1977, George began putting together his ideas for a Star Wars sequel. He hired novelist and screenwriter Leigh Brackett to write the script and had a story conference with her over several days in November and December. At the same time, he wrote a treatment for her to work off of. Sadly, Brackett would die shortly after turning in her first draft necessitating George to hire Lawrence Kasdan to refine the script.

Source: The Making of The Empire Strikes Back by J. W. Rinzler.

  • The Empire Strikes Back (Treatment ? November 28th, 1977)(By George Lucas)
  • Star Wars Sequel (First Draft ? February 17th, 1978) (Screenplay by Leigh Brackett, from The Adventures of Luke Skywalker by George Lucas) (Leaked)
  • Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (Second Draft ? April 1, 1978) (By George Lucas)
  • Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (Third Draft ? August 1978) (By Lawrence Kasdan) (No date is available for this, but The Making of The Empire Strikes Back pegs it before the 10th)
  • Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (Fourth Draft ? October 24th, 1978) (By Lawrence Kasdan) (Leaked)
  • Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (Fifth Draft ? February 20th, 1979) (By Larry Kasdan) (Leaked)

Notes:

  • The second draft is when George made the momentous decision to combine Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader into the same person.
  • Despite keeping very little of her work in the final script and film, George gave Leigh Brackett a screenplay credit on the final movie.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Image for postTitle page of the handwritten rough/first draft of Return of the Jedi, then titled Revenge of the Jedi. From The Cinema of George Lucas by Marcus Hearn.

In late 1980, Lucas began working on outlines for Revenge of the Jedi, as the film was known then. He would write the first two drafts himself before bringing back Lawrence Kasdan to finish the job. The idea of a primitive society taking on the Empire came from early drafts of the first movie.

Source: The Making of Return of the Jedi by J. W. Rinzler.

  • Star Wars: Episode VI Revenge of the Jedi (Rough Draft ? February 24th, 1981) (Written by George Lucas)
  • Star Wars: Episode VI Revenge of the Jedi (Revised Rough Draft ? June 12th, 1981) (Written by George Lucas) (Leaked)
  • Star Wars: Episode VI Revenge of the Jedi (Second Draft ? September 21st, 1981) (Story by George Lucas/Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan)
  • Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi (Revised Second Draft ? November 1st, 1981) (By L. Kasdan and G. Lucas)
  • Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi (Third Draft ? December 1st, 1981) (Story by George Lucas/Screenplay by George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan)

Notes:

  • George sometimes uses ?rough? and ?first? interchangeably when versioning drafts. Hence the picture saying ?first? while most sources call it a rough draft.
  • There?s a small discrepancy in the date between the picture and the first listed draft in The Making of Return of the Jedi. According to The Making of Return of the Jedi, George finished the draft while on the road and four days later, copies were given to two of the producers, Jim Bloom and Howard Kazanjian. Perhaps author J.W. Rinzler was working from one of the copies given to Bloom or Kazanjian and assumed the date on them was when the draft was finished.
  • A leaked draft purporting to be the second draft from December 19th, 1982 is available online. It is not the second draft, as neither the dates nor the content match that of the second draft as described in The Making of Return of the Jedi. The date is likely accurate, however, as the draft includes things that did not exist until late 1982 [Luke pulling a glove over his mechanical hand in the cockpit of his X-Wing before setting off for Dagobah and Vader?s body being burned on a funeral pyre]. It?s possible that it was created for the pickups that were shot the very next day, which included the shot with the glove, but it?s missing one of them: Luke constructing a new lightsaber. The script library of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences appears to have a copy of this draft, so it is likely real.

Prequel Trilogy

Image for postImage for postGeorge Lucas? binder of ideas, playfully called his ?Journal of the Whills.? From the web featurette ?All I Need Is An Idea.?

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Image for postThe first page of the rough draft of Star Wars Episode I, given the provisional title ?The Beginning.? From The Cinema of George Lucas by Marcus Hearn.

In the 70s and 80s, while developing the original Star Wars trilogy, George jotted down notes on what happened before, such as how Darth Vader fell to the dark side and how the Emperor came to power. While making The Empire Strikes Back, he guessed that these notes could be turned into three movies and so numbered his current film Episode V. After completing Return of the Jedi in 1983, George stepped away from Star Wars to do more producing and to raise his growing family, but always kept the prequel trilogy on his mind. When he saw the computer-generated imagery in 1993?s Jurassic Park, he knew that technology had finally caught up to his ideas for the first Star Wars trilogy. On November 1st, 1994, he sat down to begin writing Episode I. He also likely began coming up with short outlines for Episodes II and III. Unlike the next two prequels, he would finish a draft before in early 1995 before the concept art process had really kicked into full gear.

Sources: The Cinema of George Lucas by Marcus Hearn and The Star Wars Episode I Insider?s Guide PC CDROM unless otherwise noted. All drafts by George Lucas.

  • The Beginning (Rough Draft ? January 13th, 1995)
  • The Beginning (Revised Rough Draft ? June 13th, 1996) (Details about what was in this draft were given in the Episode I Insider?s Guide CDROM.)
  • The Beginning (Second Draft ? March 13th, 1997)
  • The Beginning (Revised Second Draft ? May 9th, 1997)
  • The Beginning (Third Draft ? May 13, 1997)
  • The Beginning (Revised Third Draft ? June 6th, 1997) (Leaked [See note)
  • The Beginning (Fourth Draft ? June 13th, 1997) (Source)
  • The Beginning (Revised Fourth Draft ? August 10th, 1998) (Source)

Notes:

  • The Insider?s Guide does not mention any ?first draft? of the movie but has a fairly comprehensive rundown of other drafts through the revised third draft. I am assuming that there is no ?first draft? but that instead, George considered the rough draft the first draft. He appears to have done the same thing on Return of the Jedi.
  • The Cinema of George Lucas says that ?[f]rom 1995 to 1997, Lucas drafted five versions of his screenplay for Episode I.? This has me a bit stumped. This could be pointing to the existence of a first draft, since that would make 5 drafts, not counting revised ones, but without anything more concrete, I?m assuming there was some name changing going on like with the first/rough draft of Return of the Jedi and that threw author Marcus Hearn off.
  • The wording on the Academy?s page for the fourth draft is the same as the wording for the revised third draft that they have: a draft from one date revised through another. Since the Insider?s Guide points to the third draft and the revised third draft being distinct [with dates that match those given in the Academy listing], I am assuming the Academy listing for the fourth draft means it also got a distinct revision, in this case on August 10th, 1998. This would make sense as a series of pick-ups were done in August 1998.
  • One of the widely disseminated transcripts of the revised third draft appears to not actually be of the revised third draft but possibly some hybrid of that and the final draft. The actual revised third draft features differences from the transcript such as Anakin not blowing up the droid control ship from the inside but instead it detonating from a direct hit to the bridge from outside and Qui-Gon falling into the ?melting pit? during the final duel with Darth Maul while Obi-Wan, who does not fall into it, watches. I?ve created a transcript of the revised third draft here.
  • The ?final draft? that can be found in many places, including the Insider?s Guide, is not technically the final draft. It is missing the final thing filmed for the movie: Palpatine briefly speaking to Obi-Wan and Anakin at the very end of the film (?We will watch your career with great interest?). That was filmed in March 1999, after the last known date for the revised fourth draft. Because of its small size, it likely would not have been considered a brand new draft. Incidentally, this means that the available ?final draft? is actually the revised fourth draft as of August 10th, 1998.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Image for postThe first page of the rough draft of Star Wars Episode II, given the tongue-in-cheek title ?Jar Jar?s Great Adventure.? From The Cinema of George Lucas by Marcus Hearn.

George first began organizing his thoughts for Episode II in the summer of 1998 (June, according to the Episode I Insider?s Guide). He had enough of an idea about what would be in the movie that crews could begin reconnoitering locations just days after the release of Episode I and months before George actually began to write the screenplay in September of 1999. Simultaneous to writing the script, George was also developing the visual look of the film with the art team with each informing the other. The shooting script (the second draft) would be finished the day before George left for Australia to shoot the picture.

Sources: The Cinema of George Lucas by Marcus Hearn and leaked drafts.

  • Star Wars Episode II: Jar Jar?s Great Adventure (Rough Draft ? March 13th, 2000) (By George Lucas)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Jar Jar?s Great Adventure (Second Draft ? June 24th, 2000) (By George Lucas and Jonathan Hales) (This draft with revisions up to July 5th has leaked)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (Revised Second Draft ? July 31st, 2000) (By George Lucas and Jonathan Hales) (Source)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (Third Draft) (By George Lucas and Jonathan Hales)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (Revised Third Draft ? September 5th, 2001) (By George Lucas and Jonathan Hales) (Leaked)

Note:

  • Again, I?m guessing the rough draft is considered the first draft. George had a habit of using the terms ?rough? and ?first? interchangeably as seen above for Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace.
  • Similar to the fourth drafts of The Phantom Menace above, I am assuming that the wording in the Academy?s script library means there were distinct second and revised second drafts.
  • I can?t find a direct source for a third draft, but the existence of a revised third draft means there very likely was one.
  • In The Cinema of George Lucas, author Marcus Hearn says that Lucas completed 3 drafts before calling in Jonathan Hales. Like the similar note above about The Phantom Menace, I can?t really make heads or tails of this.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Image for postThe title page of the first draft of Revenge of the Sith. From The Making of Star Wars Revenge of the Sith by J.W. Rinzler.

Lucas got a slightly faster start on Episode III than he did Episode II, starting on the screenplay in August 2002. A small portion of the movie had already been filmed, however, as George had captured a handful of shots while out in the desert filming Episode II. Most of the notes for the prequel trilogy that George had compiled in the 70s and 80s would be adapted here. Just like Episode II, art and the script would be developed simultaneously. Also like Episode II, George would not finish the shooting script (in this case the fourth draft), until just before principal photography began.

Sources: The Making of Star Wars Revenge of the Sith by J.W. Rinzler and a leaked draft. All drafts by George Lucas.

  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Rough Draft ? January 31st, 2003)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (First Draft ? April 10th, 2003)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Second Draft ? May? 2003)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Revised Second Draft ? June 13th, 2003)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Third Draft ? June 2003)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Fourth Draft ? June 26th, 2003) (Leaked)

Notes:

  • The Academy script library has a copy of the fourth draft with a date of September 4th. Since the date above came from The Making of Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith (which makes no mention of any script changes in early September), and the Academy library page does not mention anything about the draft being revised, I?m assuming the September 4th date is referring to small revisions that did not rise to the level of being considered a revised draft.
  • Lucas completed his handwritten first draft on April 10th and it was typed up on April 13th. Hence the small discrepancy between the date in the picture and the date in the listing.
  • The Making of Star Wars Revenge of the Sith makes no mention of a second draft, jumping straight from the first draft to the revised second draft. I am assuming there was one since there was a revised second draft and gave it an approximate date.
  • Likewise, there?s no direct mention of a third draft. The text skips right to a fourth draft. I?m assuming there was a third draft and gave it an approximate date.
  • Both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones had revised drafts written for pickups that were done the summer after principal photography. Revenge of the Sith had the same kind of pick-ups and so probably had a revised fourth draft written for it as well, but until I can find a solid source for one existing, I won?t be adding it to the list.
  • I?m not sure what?s going on with the scratched out dates in the picture. The book gives a different date more than a month earlier for the rough draft and makes no mention of a revised rough draft.

Sequel Trilogy

Image for postThen-Disney CEO Bob Iger with George Lucas.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Image for postThe script for Episode VII: The Force Awakens on the set of the Millennium Falcon

Similar to the notes he wrote down about a prequel trilogy, George also kept notes on ideas for a sequel trilogy while making the original three films. In late 2011 or early 2012, he began putting together a treatment for this sequel trilogy in advance of selling his company Lucasfilm. In May 2012, he hired writer Michael Arndt to work with him on this. In October, he reached a deal to sell the company to Disney who committed to having Lucasfilm make Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. In January 2013, J.J. Abrams was hired as director. That October, Michael Arndt left the project, needing more time to finish a script than Lucasfilm/Disney could give him. Abrams took over writing duties with Lawrence Kasdan, who had helped write The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Sources: The Art of The Force Awakens by Phil Szostak unless otherwise stated. Information on script drafts for this film are scarce. According to J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt never finished a draft so there?s likely nothing missing from him. After meeting with Oscar Isaac about the part of Poe Dameron in the spring of 2014, Kasdan and Abrams added Dameron into the middle and end of the film. Originally he died in the TIE Fighter crash at the beginning of the movie. The movie also underwent somewhat substantial rewrites during filming, though it?s unknown if any of this activity was qualified as a new draft. The exact credits for most of these drafts are unknown.

  • Sequel Trilogy (Treatment ? Fall 2012)(By Michael Arndt)
  • Episode VII (Work-In-Progress Draft ? August 2013)(By Michael Arndt)
  • Episode VII (First Draft ? December 2013)(By Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams)
  • Episode VII ?AVCO? (Draft ?April 24th, 2014)(By Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams) (From the 2016 edition of Star Wars: Year by Year)
  • Episode VII ?AVCO? (Shooting Draft ? May 20th, 2014) (By Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams) (From the 2016 edition of Star Wars: Year by Year)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Final Draft) (By Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt) (Released by Lucasfilm/Disney for award consideration. It?s been conformed to match the final film exactly.)

Notes:

  • The Art of The Force Awakens says that Abrams and Kasdan turned in their first draft just a few days after giving a presentation about it on December 13th.
  • The movie was codenamed ?AVCO? after the theater where a young J.J. Abrams first saw Star Wars.
  • The April 24th draft is likely the one where Poe was written into the end of the movie. It?s also likely the draft used in the cast read-through on April 29th.
  • The May 20th ?shooting? draft was actually completed 4 days after principal photography had already started on location in Abu Dhabi.

(According to Deadline, and consistent with what Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a conference call to discuss the purchase of Lucasfilm, Michael Arndt turned in a treatment for the entire trilogy at the time of the sale. Since Rian Johnson has said he was not beholden to it and since there is no indication that either he or any of the writers for Episode IX used it, I?ve left it out of the lineups for the latter two episodes.)

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Image for postProducer Ram Bergman pages through the Episode VIII script.

In May 2014, Rian Johnson was hired to write and direct Episode VIII. He quickly got to work immersing himself in everything going on with Episode VII and began writing a script.

Source: The Art of The Last Jedi by Phil Szostak

  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Rough Draft ? March 4th, 2015)(By Rian Johnson)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (First Draft ?June 3rd, 2015)(By Rian Johnson)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Second Draft ? July 29th, 2015)(By Rian Johnson)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Third Draft ? December 11th, 2015)(By Rian Johnson)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Fourth Draft ? February 1st, 2016)(By Rian Johnson) (Finn was removed from the opening bombing run, which was changed to take place during the evacuation from D?Qar, a duel between Luke and Rey was added before she leaves the island, and the flashbacks to Luke?s academy were added)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Revised Fourth Draft ? April 21st, 2016) (By Rian Johnson) (Source)

Notes:

  • The Academy library has a copy of what they call ?Version 5″ of the script, which is called the shooting draft and is dated February 1st, 2016. I am assuming that this is the fourth draft with the ?5? in ?Version 5? referring to the rough draft.
  • Similar to The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, I am assuming that the verbiage on the Academy?s page is indicating that there is a distinct revised fourth draft.
  • According to The Art of The Last Jedi, changes made for the fourth draft include Finn being removed from the opening bombing run, the opening bombing run itself being changed to take place during the evacuation from D?Qar, the addition of a duel between Luke and Rey before she leaves the island, and addition of the flashbacks to Luke?s academy.

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Image for postThe title page of the first draft of Episode IX by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow.

In August 2015, Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly were hired to write Episode IX. Trevorrow had a previous commitment to shoot the movie The Book of Henry that fall, so writing did not start in full until early 2016. In August 2017, unhappy with the drafts Trevorrow and Connolly had been turning in, Lucasfilm hired Jack Thorne to give the script a pass. His attempt was also turned down and he and the Trevorrow/Connolly pair were let go from the project in early September. J.J. Abrams was brought back to direct and tapped Chris Terrio to help him write the script.

Sources are listed with the drafts. Most of these are guesswork. There are only dates for two. Credits are best guesses except for the leaked Duel of the Fates draft. Like The Force Awakens, the movie also underwent somewhat substantial rewrites during filming, though it?s unknown if any of this activity was qualified as a new draft.

  • Star Wars Episode IX: Duel of the Fates (Draft ? December 16, 2016)(By Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly)(Source with details about what was in the draft)(Source for it being turned into Lucasfilm)(Leaked)
  • Star Wars Episode IX: Duel of the Fates (Draft ? Spring 2017)(By Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly)(Source)
  • Star Wars Episode IX: Duel of the Fates (Draft ? Summer 2017)(By Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly)(Source with details about what was in the draft)
  • Episode IX (Draft ? Summer 2017)(By Jack Thorne, Colin Trevorrow, and Derek Connolly)(Source with details about the draft)
  • Episode IX (Draft ? Early 2018)(By J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio)(Source)
  • Episode IX (Shooting Draft ? July 25th, 2018) (By. J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio) (From The Art of The Rise of Skywalker)

January 16th, 2020: Updated with information about Episode IX drafts, added another draft for Episode VII ? The Force Awakens, and added what changed in the Fourth Draft of Episode VIII ? The Last Jedi.

April 1st, 2020: Added the first shooting draft of Episode IX, the officially released final draft of The Force Awakens, a note about the listed credits for the Episode IX drafts, a note about a leaked Return of the Jedi draft, and notes about which drafts have leaked.

April 30th, 2020: Added more information about the Journal of the Whills and updated the fifth draft of Empire Strikes Back to note that it has leaked.

May 4th, 2020: Updated information about drafts of Episode I: The Phantom Menace with information from the Star Wars Episode I Insider?s Guide PC CDROM. The second draft was completed on March 13th, 1997, and revised on May 9th. Also added a fourth draft mentioned in Off the Page: Screenwriting in the Era of Media Convergence.

May 5th, 2020: Changed the sources for the drafts of The Phantom Menace and added a note about the fourth draft. Added note about the first draft of Attack of the Clones. Also added more information about the December 19th, 1982 draft of Return of the Jedi.

May 7th, 2020: Added a revised fourth draft for The Phantom Menace and a note about the transcript of the revised third draft that can be found. Also added a little to the introduction.

May 12th, 2020: Revamped the entire article. The intro was greatly beefed up and new pictures were added for almost every movie. Also added drafts for Attack of the Clones and The Last Jedi.

June 1st, 2020: Added a date to one draft for The Force Awakens and added a new date for the shooting script. Both come from the 2016 edition of the book Star Wars: Year by Year.

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