It’s pretty quiet out there, so I figure it’s time for another round of Ask SWPAS. Ask whatever you like about the prequels and Star Wars in general, and I will answer in the comments below.
Well, if you’re done with “The Crown” and you don’t care about anything else until “Stranger Things” comes back with another seasons, here’s a good reason to save $10 a month on Netflix for a while.
The series is available on Blu-Ray but for those of us without players or who just like to be able to see CW on the go, this is not great news.
Update: Seasons 1-6 are still available on iTunes.
January 31, 2017 marked an important but often overlooked anniversary in the long pop culture history of Star Wars. It’s the 20th anniversary of the Star Wars Special Editions, the first of which (ANH) was released in theaters January 31, 1997. TESB followed on February 21 and ROTJ on March 14. As is often the case with anything having to do with modern fandom and “geek” media, too much attention has been paid to the controversies and not enough on how really important those three months were in 1997. (For the record, I take the Harrison Ford position on the “who shot first” issue: I don’t care. I happen to think the 2004 DVD cut had the best version of the scene.)
1996’s “multimedia event” “Shadows Of The Empire” was a dress rehearsal for the Special Editions which in turn were a dress rehearsal for the prequels. Lucasfilm was riding a wave of resurgent popularity and this was to keep the momentum going while at the same time stretching muscles at everywhere from PR to licensing to ILM’s visual effects department that hadn’t been used for a long time, or at least not coordinated together since ROTJ’s release in 1983. But let me be clear: this wasn’t top-down manipulation. There had been a renaissance of interest in Star Wars beginning in the early ’90s. Moviegoers missed Star Wars. They missed the excitement those movies brought. Meanwhile, there was a younger generation of fans whose only experience with Star Wars was on the boob tube. They yearned to see Star Wars the way God and Lucas intended them, on the big screen. They wanted to camp out on the sidewalk like fans did in the early ‘80s and dress up in costumes. They wanted to cheer with a big audience. Some of the most memorable ads for the Special Editions were aimed directly at that audience. Remember the one that started with the tinny sound and the X-wings on a little t.v. before it burst out onto the screen? It was genius.
This is why I had no doubts at all about the Special Editions succeeding. To a lot of the media, it seemed “risky” and a “gamble.” Why would people go to the theaters to pay to see movies that had been out on cable, network television, and home video for years? It seemed absurd. But Star Wars was different and at that time in 1997, there was a perfect storm ready to break out and astonish the world.
ANH: SE had a shocking $35 million opening weekend, which set a record for a January opening and remains one of the biggest January openings even 20 years later. It sat at the top of the box office for three weeks, racking up $138.6 million in its entire run and passing “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” to become the top-grossing film of all time (domestic) until James Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio ruined everything a year later. The three existing Star Wars film grossed a total of $447 million worldwide during their combined run. That’s right…movies that were 14-20 years old made as much money if not more than just about every newly made hit released in 1997.
As per usual, complaining fans didn’t see the trees for the forest, preferring to dither on what was changed and how that made Lucas a horrible person. It’s like your team wins the Super Bowl or the World Series and all you could do is complain about your team’s ugly uniforms and how much you hate the coach while everyone else around you is celebrating. It probably indicated what was coming with the prequels.
But the Special Editions were a triumph for Star Wars and for George Lucas. They proved that Star Wars was a permanent part of the cultural landscape and they introduced the theatrical experience to a new generation of fans. In fact, the experience of seeing the films on the big screen after so many years and noticing how much was lost watching them on a t.v. influenced this fan to see the prequels as many times in the theater as possible when they were released. The hype for new Star Wars films went into overdrive. In fact, one could say this was the beginning of the prequel era. I think TPM would’ve been a success even without the Special Editions but they probably would’ve had to have worked a lot harder to make the film an event. The Special Editions pre-sold that audience two years in advance and built the excitement to make TPM the movie event of the decade.
This article has all of the info on how the Special Editions performed, making the process of writing this a lot easier and faster.
In a video interview with Vulture, Mark Hamill sounds off on prequel bashing, sticks up for Jake Lloyd and for George Lucas, and refuses to say a word about “The Last Jedi.”
The HerUniverse.com site relaunched two days ago (and if you sign up for their new mailing list, you get a 25% off coupon) and to commemorate the occasion, Ashley Eckstein did a live chat on Facebook. The video is available on the Her Universe Facebook page (with plans to eventually put it up on YouTube). It’s an hour long and lots of topics are discussed but to narrow it down–thanks to a summary from The Kessel Runway–here’s what is relevant to prequel fans:
*There’s a Naboo-themed cardigan and skirt coming out this summer. Woo hoo!
*More Ahsoka stuff is on the way. A sweatshirt for adults (plus and regular) and a long-sleeved tee for kids are available now. A new tee will debut for Celebration. They’d really like to do an entire Ahsoka collection.
This wasn’t mentioned in the video but the Naboo hoodie is due out in March; Midtown Comics’ web site had a placeholder for it.
There’s a new channel of pro-PT videos on YouTube called The Star Wars Prequels Channel. These are new, original videos discussing different aspects of the prequel films. There’s also a link on the blogroll.
Perhaps against my better judgment, here’s an open thread on the suddenly revealed title of Ep VIII, “The Last Jedi.” (I’m not linking this on the FB page because it’ll get too crazy there.)
My only thing is this, it’s obviously not Lucas’s style of nomenclature nor is there the same sense of rhyme as there was with his movies:
A New Hope <–> The Phantom Menace
The Empire Strikes Back <–> Attack Of The Clones
Return Of The Jedi <–> Revenge Of The Sith
I know this is nitpick theater but if I pay attention to those kinds of details, I don’t know why no one else can. But of course, what ultimately matters is how the film turns out…
I wish I’d jumped on this quickly but due to distractions such as work, I missed out on these exclusive prints by Eric Tan and sold by Bottleneck Gallery. They went on sale Thursday at noon EST/9 a.m. PST for $50 apiece or $140 for the set and were gone in 10 minutes. Sad face. But it goes to show you, the prequels ARE popular and I hope licensees take note.
Bandai is going to release a Yoda figure this year. You can switch out OT and PT heads and give him a cane or a lightsaber, depending upon your mood.
The Padmé Amidala (AOTC) figure from SH Figuarts is due out in June; pre-orders begin tomorrow. (This one is MINE.)
H/T Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy Facebook Page
Gentle Giant is taking pre-orders for a Jango Fett mini bust due out later this year.
Power To The Prequels at Retrozap is back with a new piece, “The Wonder of Wondering: Star Wars Mysteries In The Prequels.” It’s a look at the answers and many questions the prequels presented:
As fans we should be able to make up our own minds about these things. Lucas created Star Wars in part to teach children about empathy and values, but also to encourage their imaginations and inspire them. We must be willing to at least tolerate different interpretations of the saga and different theories on the parts of our fellow fans. Doggedly pursuing one incontrovertible record about the sequence of events and history of the Star Wars galaxy misses the larger point of these stories and the lessons they are trying to impart.
The fun of Star Wars is ultimately the opportunity to use our own imaginations to fill in the blanks. But what happens when there are no more blanks to fill in, when there is no room in the galaxy for our imagination because all these stories have been told?