As exciting as it is to start a daring new project, there’s a certain level of relief when it’s met with success. In an interview that would eventually lead to “The Making of Return of the Jedi,” an official behind-the-scenes book, Lucas admitted that the “Star Wars” franchise’s successful history made the third film less stressful to work on:
“The biggest issue was, could we actually do a sequel, could we actually finance ourselves and do it? We’d proved we could [when creating ‘The Empire Strikes Back’], so now it was just a matter of doing it again. And the second one had done really well, so we knew the third one would do really well. By then a lot of the uncertainty had been taken out of the process. And the second one had the problem of having no beginning and no end. […] This one at least would have an end, a lot of story points would be closed up, so no matter what, I knew it would be interesting to people. That took a little of the edge of it off.”
It’s great that Lucas was confident after working on “The Empire Strikes Back,” but if anything, it’s easy to see how he could’ve felt relatively nervous afterward. The second “Star Wars” film set some pretty high stakes and established that nothing was off the table: Luke’s parentage was a big twist, and the fact that the film ended on a low point for the rebellion (with one main character out of commission and another suffering a significant injury) showed just how hopeless things could be in a galaxy far, far away. “The Empire Strikes Back” would be a tough act to follow.