The Phantom Menace is coming upon us yet again, and the press has been piling up. We’ll have more of a roundup tomorrow, but for this afternoon let’s start off with The Hollywood Reporter’s feature on Star Wars George Lucas. In it, we learn the franchise raked in $3 billion in licensing revenue last year. (That’s a lot of lightsabers – in the accompanying photo gallery, they say the franchise has raked in $20B in licensed goods alone.) Overall though, the feature doesn’t hold much for informed fans – merchandising rights, The Clone Wars, etc. So what’s really making waves among the geeky internet is a Q&A sidebar, where Lucas talks reaction to his Star Wars tweaks (“…when I make the slightest change, everybody thinks it’s the end of the world.”) and Han not shooting first:
Well, it’s not a religious event. I hate to tell people that. It’s a movie, just a movie. The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.
He also talks about CGI Yoda, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and SOPA, but you know what’s getting passed around the internet for the rest of the evening…
Check out this breakdown of the original budget of Star Wars. Circa 1980 from David Pirie’s Anatomy of the Movies, it lays out the price of the original special effects, actor’s precentages and more. Of course the revenue numbers are wildly out of date, but it’s interesting nonetheless. See the whole thing at Film Detail.
This morning’s new episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic featured a fairly blatant take on the throne room scene from Star Wars. I admit to generally being more of the jaded eye-rolling type when it comes to this sort of thing, but this one took me completely off guard. (There’s something delightfully ironic about it ending a story featuring a villain voiced by a Star Trek guy.) I’m totally taking this as a personal shoutout, reality of production schedules be damned.
In his Film Critic column, sci-fi author John Scalzi imagines what would have happened if George Lucas had never made Star Wars. No Jar-Jar, sure, but what about Indiana Jones? Harrison Ford’s career? Pixar? Battlestar Galactica?
In this Blu-ray extra, creature designer Phil Tippett discusses the origins of the dejarik chess scene in A New Hope. The holographic chess scene is one of my favorites from Star Wars in terms of showing a full universe – there’s recreation, and important life lessons about the differences between droids and Wookiees.
There have been a few more rumors and possible leaked (or faked) footage from the new Star Wars Blu-rays, mostly Return of the Jedi: A new addition in the the Emperor’s death scene, blinking Ewoks. io9 rounds it up, and even they’re suggesting caution, so take it as you will. We’ll find out soon enough.