For many, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is more than just a movie. Released in 1980, it delivered a darker, more complex story that cemented its place as a pop culture phenomenon. But the path to the big screen wasn’t smooth sailing. The making of the 1980 sequel hit a snag due to a fire.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes
A still from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes (Credits: 20th Century Studios)

The fiery mishap wasn’t part of the movie’s special effects but rather linked to Stanley Kubrick. Fans might be surprised to learn that the film’s production faced a notable delay due to a fiery mishap involving the Hollywood legend’s project.

The Empire Strikes Back Delayed by Tragedy Impacting The Shining

Jack Nicholson in The Shining
Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining (Credits: Warner Bros.)

Fans might be surprised to know that The Empire Strikes Back was briefly linked with another cinematic titan – Stanley Kubrick‘s psychological horror masterpiece, The Shining. Both films shared production space at Elstree Studios in England. During the production of The Shining, a fire broke out and destroyed a large part of its set (reported by BBC), and the studio had to shuffle things around.

This wasn’t just bad news for Kubrick, it also caused delays for The Empire Strikes Back, which had just started filming. Star Wars director George Lucas was forced to give up some of his space so Kubrick could finish his film. Eventually, it put them behind schedule.

Back then, Star Wars was just a film, not the giant franchise it is today, so Kubrick’s reputation likely gave him the upper hand. Luckily, both films recovered and became critically acclaimed. The Shining is a horror classic, and The Empire Strikes Back is often called the best Star Wars movie  even to this day.

The Empire Strikes Back Faced a Strange Shining-Like Snowstorm Peril

A still from The Shining
A still from The Shining

There’s another fun connection between the two flicks. Stephen King‘s adaptation is based on Jack Torrance — a writer with a bit of a dark past — takes a caretaker job at the Overlook Hotel during the winter.

The hotel turns out to be creepy and haunted, and things get even worse when the hotel messes with Jack’s head in a big way (making him see things and turning him super violent). Jack’s wife, Wendy, and son Danny have to fight for their lives as Jack goes crazy, and it all leads to a terrifying chase through a maze made of snow.

Remember the ending of The Shining? Wendy and Danny manage to get away from the Overlook Hotel during a fierce snowstorm. They climb into a snowcat that their friend Hallorann left behind. Jack, unfortunately, doesn’t make it out. Lost and alone in the snowy maze, he freezes to death.

According to The Culture Slate, during filming for the snowy scenes of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, a dangerous winter storm with blowing snow and wind nearly trapped George Lucas and his crew in Norway. This is eerily similar to The Shining‘s plot. Thankfully, unlike Jack Torrance, Lucas and his team escaped!

Watch The Empire Strikes Back on Disney + and The Shining on Prime Video.

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