Best of Star Wars in 2011: Movies and fandom

It was a big year for Star Wars: The movies got another overhaul as the long-awaited complete saga set finally appeared with the Blu-rays, Star Tours finally came out of the 80’s with a major upgrade, and the franchises’ most-hyped video game ever actually arrived. And the fans did some pretty cool stuff, too! Onward!

Biggest release: The saga on Blu-ray
The gamers may not agree, but for our money the big event of the year was the release of the Star Wars Blu-rays, aka the long-awaited complete saga box set.

Of course, no new release can go totally smoothly – there’s the usual head-desking over George Lucas’ nigh-inevitable tweaking. You’d think we’d be used to it by now, but… no. Of course, it is a brilliant publicity move, really. (However, if you ask me, the most annoying thing about it was that that blasted social-media driven cover ‘reveal!’)

Still, once all the growling and teeth-gnashing subsided and the sets actually came out, they sold like hotcakes. Ahh, fandom. The power of cut scenes compels you!

Runner-up: The Old Republic. I’m sure you’ve noticed that we’re not really much for games, but the buzz for this thing was through the roof and it looks to be doing pretty well. It’s much too soon to tell if this MMO will ultimately succeed or if it fizzles out like poor departed Galaxies, but it has certainly made an impressive first impression.

Professional trend we applaud, with reservations: Going social
This is far from the first year that social networking services have been relevant to pros and fandom alike, but this year saw several important milestones in the way pros and fans interact. On Twitter, the new faces included both Mark Hamill and Samuel L. Jackson, while Tim Zahn and Leland Chee both started up Facebook fan pages. But the real social story this year, at least for EU fans, is the Star Wars Books Facebook page. It’s run by Del Rey’s editing team and has radically changed how we get book news, and when we get it. Upgrade!

However, such direct contact with fans isn’t always a positive: Both fans and pros can say things off the cuff that get taken the wrong way, or be outright abusive. For a few (non-Star Wars) example: Celebrity food nerd Alton Brown left Twitter after someone pretended to tweet as his wife. Still, it wasn’t long before he returned, and – kind of hilariously – will occasionally retweet unfavorable comments. In a more well-publicized incident, Ashton Kutcher was burned for his comments on the Penn State child molestation scandal. (Namely, being unaware there was a child molestation scandal at all.) Star Wars folks have been fairly low key – we’ve been more likely to see quiet bow-outs than crazy flame wars. Still – call me gun-shy – it’s a tricky business.

Event of the year: Star Tours 2.0
No Celebration, no big hall presence at SDCC, and while I’m rather partial to DragonCon… The launch of the new Star Tours it is. I can honestly say I was a bit envious of all the folks who were at Disney World for this… And I hate Florida. Go figure. Plus, it brought this into our lives.

Snark of the year
Pro editon: I’m not sure which is funnier: George Lucas trolling Seth Rogan about aliens or Lynne Hale’s response when asked about George Lucas trolling Seth Rogan about aliens.

Fan editon: It’s not exactly new, but Wookieepedia’s list of all the things that have ruined Star Wars forever. Somehow, it being a rip-off from the Transformers wiki makes it even funnier.

Fandom trend that needs to go
The ‘true fan’ problem. The details may change, but the attitude is seemingly eternal.

The best in video
Volkswagon’s Star Wars Super Bowl commercial is probably the one you’ve seen the most, but I’m going to crown OneMinuteGalactica our video MVP. He’s responsible for some of the year’s best mashups: The Worst Couple in the Universe, The Star Wars Zone, The Sith who Stole Christmas and my personal favorite, Existential Star Wars (In French.) All the awards.

Mystery of the year
Seriously, what is Star Wars Detours? Okay, yeah, it’s probably Seth Green’s comedy show, but still: I want to know. Officially. Damn you, George!

If you only click six links before the end of the year, make it these.
It seemed like the Empire reveal video was everywhere this year, and while it’s cute and all, it doesn’t hold a candle to Drew McWeeny’s series about showing the Star Wars movies to his two sons. I was so impresed that I’ll give you the direct links:A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, The Phantom Menace, Attack Of The Clones, Revenge Of The Sith and Return of the Jedi.

Looking ahead to 2012.
There’s The Phantom Menace 3D comes out on February 10. (Are audiences sick of 3D yet? The original trilogy may depend on it.) Celebration VI is back in Florida on August 23-26. And there will certainly be other things… stay tuned.

Fear not, we’ll be addressing the Expanded Universe and TV in forthcoming posts!

4 Replies to “Best of Star Wars in 2011: Movies and fandom”

  1. Those Drew McWeeny posts were so worth the read. I don’t know why that viewing order had never occured to me but it makes a lot of sense.

    Great “best of” post, thanks!

  2. I was really glad to see those Drew McWeeny articles earlier this year. Years ago, that guy was the only one who kept Ain’t It Cool News readable.

    And, sadly, as much as I may want to see the original trilogy in theaters again…I kind of hope that the series doesn’t make it that far in 3D. But for rare occasions, I’ve found the format completely exhausting and unnecessary; and with the way ticket sales have dropped this year, it seems like most audiences are starting to feel the same way.

  3. Great retrospective piece (expect nothing less from CJ) but the Drew film numbering issue is a wierd one. Cant see the justification for watching the films in any order other than 1-6 (other than nostalgia). It always assumes the single biggest moment of the saga is Vaders Bespin reveal to Luke, when we all know the big reveal is in AOTC with Anakin telling us sand is rough and course and it gets everywhere…

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