Tag Archives: the phantom menace

Star Wars raked in $3B in 2011 and Han never shot first: George Lucas in The Hollywood Reporter

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…

Poll: Will you go see The Phantom Menace in 3D this weekend?

So Friday sees the release of The Phantom Menace 3D. Drew McWeeny praises the conversion, and his kid loved it (and he has a funny story about being banned from Skywalker Ranch.) Coming Soon’s Chris and Benjamin Mason were “blown away” by the conversion, though Richard Gray of The Reel Bits is less impressed, calling it “disappointing” and “murky.” But it’s The Phantom Menace, so of course the reviews are mixed.

In any case, our pal Bryan Young really wants you to see it. Others… Not so much. (I’m debating, but… Well.) Of course.

But the real question…

Continue reading

Star Wars toys return to McDonalds’ Happy Meal this Friday… As ‘boy toys’

A new occasional feature here will be sharing those things that money (technically) can’t buy (at least not until it is on the secondary market).  Some examples: the podracer 3D glasses (though you can buy them if you’re not near a giveaway theater.)  Orange Death Star hand fans,  Pins, LEGO mini-figs,  ghost Obi-Wan figures,  and Special Edition Luke figures.

It will not be an exhaustive listing, but when we come across various tie-ins, we’ll do our best to share them with you as well as revisit some from the past from time to time.  Why? Because who doesn’t appreciate the free finer things in life?

First up — the McDonalds Star Wars Happy Meal toys for The Phantom Menace 3D rerelease.

McDonalds has had a few waves of Star Wars toys included in their happy meals in the prequel era.  The last couple of series were tied to The Clone Wars and were amusing.  The 2008 set focused on a cross between characters and ships – best of both worlds for most kids I know.

Threepio Happy Meal toy from 2011

The 2011 set  featured lightsabers, a Jedi Mind trick, a C3PO bobble (with R2-KT sticker!) – I still have some of those around and they were great for boys and girls. Who wouldn’t want 3PO hanging around all day?

Starting this Friday (per contacts in my local market, YMMV), you’ll start seeing a new round of Happy Meal toys.  I was excited when I first heard about the promotion, looking forward to seeing what McDonalds would come up with to celebrate the movie.  McDonald toys have been pretty cool lately with either multiple pieces, built in electronic lights and/or sounds, or just something above and beyond a hunk of plastic.  I was thinking maybe Jar-Jar with a long tongue (it’s been approved before), or prequel lightsabers like the 2011 promotion, or ships, or figures with voice chips.  Something strongly tied in to TPM at least.

The toys are previewed on HappyMeal.com. (See the screenshot above.) And they appear to be of the Beyblade  / LEGO Ninjago (minus the mini-fig) style of tops to compete with and collect.

The holders are light saber hilts, 2 pod racers, and R2.  The tops feature pictures of various standouts from the movie associated with the holder model.  The one standout is in the shape of R2-D2, with a matching top.  R2 fans will enjoy adding it to their collection and if you’re crafty you could modify it to match another of your favorite R2-series droids.

Recently Happy Meals have changed to include apple slices as well as fries as part of the meal to encourage healthier eating.  I can’t help but wonder if this decision has affected the budget for the toys.  Healthy living is important and as a mom I appreciate the apples being there and not just a choice, but cheapening the toy further is messing with tradition.  I’d rather not see the Happy Meal toy go the way of Crackerjack prizes in terms of quality.

Kids are still going to be happy with finding one of these toys in their Happy Meal but there is something far more discouraging .  The Star Wars toys have been deemed “boy toys” and have been paired up with Build A Bear as the “girl toy” offering.  Why oh why do we continue to have this designation and only for certain partners?  The Chipmunks were not divided, Happy Feet 2, Avatar – all these toys were offered to both boys and girls equally.

You’d think after 30+ years of girls vocally loving Star Wars, they’d offer an expanded collection for both girls and boys to play with and share.  At least Burger King offered Iron Man jewelry for girls during their promotion rather than assume girls did not want to celebrate Tony Stark.  Iron Man 2 even had at least two strong female characters in Pepper Potts and Black Widow. The Phantom Menace has a queen, her bodyguard handmaidens, a mother, and numerous female characters who appear throughout the movie.  What a disappointment to not include any of these characters in the Happy Meal toys at all.

Shame on you, Ronald.  What a wasted opportunity.

Out this week: Some 3D movie, Book of Sith, comics

This week is strong with the dark side: Not only are we seeing Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D arrive in theaters Friday, but that’s also the release date for Dan Wallace’s Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side, the latest fancy whatsit you can use to frighten impress your friends with your supreme geekery. (A book coming out on a Friday? Unusual, but it’s no ordinary book… Though I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to get it at midnight.)

Appropriately, there will be a mighty bounty of new Star Wars comics in stores Wednesday: Knights of the Old Republic: War #2, Agent of the Empire: Iron Eclipse #3 and Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost #4. There’s even a little something for the Omnibus fans, A Long Time Ago: Volume 5.

Surprise! VW’s Star Wars ad is a Super Bowl hit

Volkswagen’s second Star Wars ad officially debuted during the Super Bowl last night, and although reception in the fandom was lukewarm, (‘last year’s was better’) it seems to have done fairly well with the general audience, and the dog (and his fat suit) even got a small spotlight from the Los Angeles Times.

For instance, San Francisco Chronicle’s Peter Hartlaub named it his second best, behind only the Clint Eastwood Chrysler spot. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Scott D. Pierce named it his #1. Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams admits that the spot was “shameless” and not as good as last years, but came out in favor because, well, dogs and Star Wars. The A.V. Club were less impressed, calling the dog “fairly cute” but saying the Star Wars endcap was “buzz insurance”.

But, naturally, democracy reigns, and you can vote for your own favorites on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and even the NFL themselves, where the VW spot is currently #3.

Making a surprise showing last night was a spot for The Phantom Menace 3D, which was apparently named the “the most-memorable movie spot” in one poll.

Dear Darth Plagueis: It’s not you, it’s me

I don’t know why I was surprised when James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis failed to blow my mind.

I bought the book on the release date, but didn’t start it until last Monday – mainly because I knew I’d have to recap the Luceno Facebook chat on Wednesday and I didn’t want to be spoiled for what folks on Twitter were labeling AMAZING REVELATIONS. So I forced myself through it in two days.

And I was not blown away. The revelations? Not that amazing. To me, anyway.

There are no overt spoilers for Darth Plagueis after the jump, though there are some references to the content which may be obvious to anyone well-versed in fandom. Continue reading

Out this week: Phantom Menace reissue, Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual

Coming today is a new edition of Terry Brooks’ The Phantom Menace novelization, which contains a new short story, ‘End Game,’ by James Luceno. Like the rerelease of Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter a few weeks back, this edition doesn’t have a new ISBN, so your best bet would be to pick it up in person to make sure you’ve got the right version.

If you’d rather pick up something brand new, also out today is The Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual by Ryder Windham, Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas.

Meanwhile, Wednesday is a good day to head out to the comic shop, due to the presence of Dawn of the Jedi #0 on the shipping list this week.

It’s also about time to be keeping an eye out for the latest Star Wars Insider, #131, which a Millennium Falcon story by Star Wars newcomers David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams.

Slurp Sabers? Someone did not think this through

Joining the latest parade of Phantom Menace tie-ins is Gogurt, which is packaging their yogurt in glow-in-the-dark lightsaber packaging. Neat, sure. Until you get to the part where they call it a ‘Slurp Saber,’ at which everyone with a remotely dirty mind facepalms their brains out. Way to go, marketing geniuses!

Selected AMC theaters to hold special screenings of The Phantom Menace 3D

Ten AMC theaters in the U.S. will hold the screenings, which will include Podracer 3D glasses and a free toy with each ticket. There will also be face painting, LEGOs, character appearances (aka your friendly neighborhood 501st and Rebel Legion members) and Xbox Kinect demonstrations.

The participating theaters are in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and San Francisco, though it appears the free toy offer may apply to all AMC theaters.