4 times that Star Wars movies were spoiled before release

Photo: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).. © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).. © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

These days, every new Star Wars project is shrouded in secrecy. In some cases, actors aren’t even allowed to take their lines home, but instead have to read the script under the watchful eye of a Lucasfilm employee to make sure nothing leaks out.

But it wasn’t always that way. Over the years, a surprising number of spoilers have leaked out to the public before the movie’s release. These aren’t the only ones, but there have been more than a few cases where a major Star Wars spoiler was leaked to the public before the movie’s release. These are 4 of the biggest spoilers for the Star Wars films.

1. The entire first movie.

Most people first learned the story of A New Hope in May or June of 1977 when they saw Star Wars in the theaters for the first time. But for a few book readers, they had the entire story already available to them in the form of the Star Wars novelization that was published and available to the public months before the movie was released. The novelization of the first Star Wars movie was published on November 12th, 1976, over six months before the movie would be released. Of course, at the time, Star Wars wasn’t a global phenomenon, so people didn’t have to worry about spoilers for a movie they didn’t know would be so big. But surprisingly, this happened again and again, with every novelization of the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy being released around a month before the movie was released. Anybody who wanted to could have easily gone to a bookstore and discovered everything that would happen well before the movie was released. It wasn’t until The Force Awakens novelization was pushed to 2016 that a Star Wars movie came out before the novelization of the movie.

2. The Phantom Menace Soundtrack

Suppose you’re a Star Wars fan on May 4th, 1999, who’s really excited that there will finally be a new Star Wars movie in theaters in just a few weeks. You already have your tickets, and to help tide you over for the last two weeks, you decide to pick up the new score from John Williams to really get you in the mood for going back to that galaxy far, far away. You put the CD in, and as you’re listening to that fantastic score, you look at the back of the case to see how many tracks are on the CD. Your eyes drift down, and you can’t help but notice the titles of track 15 (Qui-Gon’s Noble End) and track 16 (The High Council Meeting and Qui-Gon’s Funeral). Don’t get too attached to that new Qui-Gon Jinn character when you see the movie in a few weeks. He probably won’t be around for the rest of the trilogy.

3. The sequels keep getting spoiled by the toys

By the time the sequel trilogy was made, the security around possible spoilers had been dialed way up. Trailers for the moves were designed to give almost nothing away of the plot. Actors would joke about how much they weren’t allowed to say when promoting the movies on talk shows. Everyone seemed on high alert to ensure no spoilers were leaked before the movies came out.

But the thing that seemed to slip through the cracks every time was the toys. For example, during the buildup to The Force Awakens, the plot point that Rey would be the Jedi being trained in the new trilogy was kept under wraps. While Rey was in the trailers for the movie, she was never shown with a lightsaber, and Finn was seemingly to misdirect fans into thinking the trilogy would be focusing on Finn instead of Rey as the next Jedi. This may have worked, except an action figure of Rey came out before the movie’s release and featured the character packaged with a lightsaber. And not just any lightsaber. The lightsaber packaged with the toy Rey was clearly the one that was used by Anakin and Luke in the previous trilogies, indicating that Rey would be a much more central figure in the new movies than we were initially led to believe.

It happened again with The Last Jedi when a LEGO set with box art featuring BB-8 piloting an AT-ST. So, while some people wondered how Finn and Rose would escape the First Order while watching the movie, those who had played with the right LEGO set already knew.

4. The actor for Darth Vader spoiled the BIG TWIST of The Empire Strikes Back

In 1978, David Prowse, the actor who was in the Darth Vader suit for the original three movies, made a personal appearance to meet fans and sign autographs. During the appearance, Prowse told fans that he would soon be working on the next Star Wars movie and told the crowd that Luke would learn that Darth Vader was his long-lost father. A local newspaper covered the event and printed the spoiler in the article, meaning that anybody reading the article would know what Darth Vader would reveal to Luke two years before The Empire Strikes Back even came out.

What’s fascinating about this particular spoiler being revealed is that it seems impossible to have happened. The reveal of Vader being Luke’s father was such a closely guarded secret that even on the movie set, most people didn’t know, including supposedly Prowse himself. When filming the scene, Prowse was supposedly given the line “Obi-Wan killed your father,” with the plan being for James Earl Jones to dub over the scene with the real line later. So, if only a handful of people knew about the secret twist when the movie was being made, how did Prowse manage to spoil it for fans two years earlier?

Years later, in a documentary about David Prowse, the actor was asked about the article and claimed that he had no memory of revealing the spoiler to anybody, claiming that he himself didn’t know the twist of the movie. Prowse said that he thought he was saying the real line when they filmed the scene. So what happened? It’s a mystery that will probably never be solved. Perhaps Prowse was simply making up plot ideas that day and happened to luck into the right one. Maybe the reporter heard something wrong and wrote down something Prowse never actually said. But whatever happened, in the end, those who read the article got to find out one of the biggest twists in cinema history two years early.