Then And Now: Fandom Tourism

In 1999, TPM was released on staggered dates throughout the world. North America got it May 19 and much of the world got it on various dates through the summer, with France bringing up the rear in October. Simultaneous worldwide releases were relatively new then but Star Wars fans outside of the U.S. and Canada weren’t going to wait two or three months to see the movie, especially with that newfangled thing called the internet threatening to spoil the movie months before it arrived on their shores. So what was a fan to do? Book a vacation to the U.S. of A., of course! I don’t know how many people traveled to New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, and other easy hop destinations from the UK and the rest of Europe but it was enough to get media attention. One of my friends actually made the trip.

It was less of an issue with the releases of AOTC and ROTS, which opened the same date worldwide (with a few exceptions like Japan). However due to differing time zones, if you lived in Australia or New Zealand, you got at least a 16-hour jump on the U.S. and Europeans who had to schlep to New York in the past were enjoying midnight showings just as their U.S. East Coast counterparts were driving home from work.

Fast forward to 2015 and I spot an ad from Air France on Twitter promoting a “Flight And Cinema” package deal: “Star Wars VII: See The Movie 2 Days Before!” That’s right, France gets TFA on December 16, two days before its opening in North America, so now it comes full circle with American fans booking flights to Paris to see the flick first.

With your plane ticket (must be booked on specific flights departing December 15 from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York) you get a free ticket to the flick at a EuroCorp Cinema theater (designed by Luc Besson) and a free ride on a special Star Wars shuttle from the airport to theater. Sweet, non? As much as I love Paris, I would be so horribly jet lagged, I’d fall asleep within the first 20 minutes. Especially in those La-Z-Boys and lounge chairs the EuroCorp Cinema chain apparently has. But if you’ve got money to burn and want to toast TFA by the Eiffel Tower then hit Disneyland Paris afterwards, check out Air France’s offer here. And hope the movie isn’t dubbed in French!

However, I think Italy gets first dibs on TFA December 15. Ball’s in your court, Alitalia!

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17 Responses to “Then And Now: Fandom Tourism”

  1. piccolojr1138 Says:

    You can always watch an american movie in english on big french theatres 🙂

    By the way, I don’t know if any of you guys understand french, but I wrote this on our website :

    “George Lucas was right not to listen bitter fans”

    • Stefan Kraft Says:

      I would not be surprised if it was easier in France than in Germany to watch a movie in its original language: large movie theatres in Germany have a screening in the original language maybe once a week. (There are however smaller ones that show some or even all movies they screen in the original language, but they do not exist in every city.) That’s different in Switzerland where foreign movies are played in the dubbed version as well as in their original language in a (maybe?) 50:50 ratio.

      Anyway, nice article. It’s also the first time that I have read the french versions of the movie titles. 🙂 I think you are spot on with your judgement why JJ and Kennedy have talked about “practical effects” etc.:
      “Avec la bénédiction des studios, J.J. Abrams ressusciterait ‘ l’esprit de la trilogie originale’, ranimant ainsi une licence massacrée par son créateur. L’équipe du film ne fait rien pour démentir cette thèse, et l’entretient même par divers clins d’oeil. Une telle promotion gratuite ne se refuse pas.”
      “With the blessing of the studio, JJ Abrams would resuscitate ‘the spirit of the Original Trilogy’ so that he revives a formula [?] massacred by its creator. The film crew does nothing to deny this hypothesis, and even maintains it by several winks. You don’t refute such a free promotion.”

      The article comes to the conclusion that Disney will not really follow the O-OT-only formula because Disney wants the Saga to be popular – and this is only possible by taking into consideration the fan majority, especially the young generations.

      • piccolojr1138 Says:

        “licence” = “franchise”

        At the end, I talk about the whole audience, not just the fans 🙂

        Thank you for reading !

    • Stefan Kraft Says:

      BTW, I have read an article a while back that claimed that GL indeed listened (a bit at least) to the fans (fans?): he reduced Jar Jar’s role in EP II etc. If this is true, I think that he still stuck to his original plans by and large.

      • piccolojr1138 Says:

        I heard that too, but I’ve never found a quote of him or one his collaborators saying that. Even before TPM’s release.

  2. susanbowes Says:

    My French friend will be happy to learn that she can see Episode 7 before me. LOL

  3. susanbowes Says:

    I couldn’t read your article “George Lucas was right not to listen bitter fans” because I don’t understand French, but I agree that him not paying attention to the haters was a good idea. However, I do believe that’s partially why he sold the franchise to Disney. He probably figured… why fight a losing battle?

    • maychild Says:

      Google Chrome has a Translate function. 🙂

      • susanbowes Says:

        Thanks, but it’s not really necessary for me to read the article. Lucas is out of the picture now. He’s washed his hands of the whole mess so I’m doing the same. (except for seeing TFA of course. LOL)

    • Stefan Kraft Says:

      Well, I think that GL indeed said (several months before the sale to Disney was announced) something like “why should I make other [SW movies] if I am always criticized?” (Not sure what he really said, but it was discussed e.g. on the Forcecast. Does anyone remember it?) However, I think the Disney sale was already been planned back then. In fact, I think GL said in a post-sale interview together with Kathleen Kennedy that *he* would never do another one, but others would. 😉

      So, the constant attacks may indeed have played a role. However, I also think that he considered the Disney sale the best possible option for his legacy: his studio plans near Skywalker ranch did not work out (as madmediaman has written). Moreover, could Lucasfilm continue as an independent studio after GL’s death (that hopefully will only happen in a far distant future)? Finally, he has been a big Disney fan anyway and had already collaborated with the company (think of “Star Tours” etc.) So why not leave the production of the new movies to Disney and finally retire to make the independent movies he always wanted?

      It has already been discussed quite a lot here whether the post-sale development was what GL intended (probably not). Still, he does not seem to be bitter and is enjoying his retirement. And he is curious how TFA turns out.

      • susanbowes Says:

        Everything you said is true, but I still feel Disney should’ve used his ideas. From what I’ve heard, Kennedy promised him that they would, but then she stabbed him in the back by rejecting his ideas completely. (Definitely a Sith move!) I hope that’s just a rumor and that Kennedy didn’t betray him. Lucas always treated her with the utmost respect and even assigned her head of Lucasfilms when he decided to retire.

      • Stefan Kraft Says:

        I agree that it is really not clear why GL’s original ideas were scrapped (together with the screenplay by Arndt). Did Disney decide that TFA should rather be a “safe” movie and that they will use his ideas only in EP VIII and XI? (Maybe Kennedy then accepted this because a non-successful movie would mean that her head would roll.) Or was GL really betrayed?
        I hope that these questions will all be answered someday (but I do not really believe that they will). And I am also curious how GL’s original story treatments look like…

        Even if GL is not satisfied with the whole situation, I have never heard him complaining. That’s class for sure.

      • susanbowes Says:

        I agree that Lucas has a lot of class for publicly supporting Disney, especially if they dismissed his ideas completely. I also give credit to Hayden Christensen for supporting TFA, even though not asked to be in it. Hopefully, the rumors are true about Disney including Hayden in episode 8.

      • Mike Jones Says:

        I read on that a lot of the world-building ideas by GL and Arndt (and Rian Johnson to a certain extent) were kept, especially for the time period between ROTJ and TFA (and flexibility was kept for the ST itself). So while we will probably be presented with new ideas in these movies, there’s a good chance that we will see traces of GL’s world-building ideas spread throughout the ST.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        I’ve heard/read that too and it’s all quite vague. It sounded to me more like those “ideas,” whatever they are, influenced the current and coming roster of books and comics rather than the movies themselves. Plus it says nothing to me about maintaining the myth’s integrity.

      • susanbowes Says:

        I certainly hope you’re right. It would be a terrible injustice to Mr. Lucas, as well as to SW fans, if Disney didn’t use a few of Lucas’ ideas. After all, who knows the saga better than it’s creator?

  4. susanbowes Says:

    It would be outrageous if Disney doesn’t continue the main theme of the saga. Lucas’ ideals should be carried on, even if just to make the transition from the older movies flow smoothly to TFA. It doesn’t do anyone any good if fans are confused trying to figure out a completely new plot with all new characters.

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