|THANKS, FLASH. The films could well not have happened. In 1971, George Lucas sought to make a modern adaptation of the Flash Gordon film serial, but could not obtain the rights. He went on to direct American Graffiti (1973), while developing his own idea for a space opera. He wrote up a two-page synopsis, which became the basis for the original 1977 film, Star Wars, produced by 20th Century Fox. But Lucas worked Flash Gordon, a childhood favorite, into the film anyway, as that series, like The Empire Strikes Back, featured a city floating in the sky.
ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B. George Lucas was far from certain that the original Star Wars film would be a success. So he had a plan in the works that Alan Dean Foster would write a sequel novel to his novelization of the first film, so that there would be something on which to base a low-budget sequel, if the first film bombed. But of course it did not.
SKYWALKER = RAINMAKER. The nine-film+ franchise holds the Guinness World Records title for the "Most Successful Film Merchandising Franchise." In 2018, the total value of the Star Wars franchise was estimated at US$65 billion. It is currently the fifth-highest-grossing media franchise of all time (after Pokemon, Hello Kitty, Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse).
The force is definitely with these two...
MANY NOMINATIONS, FEW AWARDS. Each of the first eight films were nominated for Academy Awards. Yet only the first two films released (Episode IV: A New Hope; and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back) actually captured awards. Which may give a bit of credence to the notion that Hollywood is governed by Sith Lords...
ALWAYS ASK YOUR AGENT. George Lucas asked Irvin Kershner, one of his former professors at USC to direct the sequel to Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back. Kershner was known for smaller-scale, character-driven films, but had also directed Raid on Entebbe (1977) and Eyes of Laura Mars (1978). Kershner initially turned Lucas down, citing his belief that a sequel would never meet the quality or originality of Star Wars. He called his agent, who immediately demanded that he take the job.
|UNAPPRECIATED MASTERPIECE. The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980 ( lmost exactly 40 years from when it will be shown with Live Orchestra at Festival Boca). While the film got mixed reviews at first, it is now widely considered to be the best film in the series, and one of the best films of all time. It won the Academy Award for Best Sound, and a special Academy Award for Best Special Effects. When adjusted for inflation, The Empire Strikes Back is the second highest-grossing sequel of all time.
SETTLING SCORES. In 1977, composer John Williams was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score for two films: Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Star Wars won. It is the only one of the Star Wars scores that has won. Yet Williams was also nominated for Best Original Score for four of the other seven films: The Empire Strikes Back (V), Return of the Jedi (VI), The Force Awakens (VII), and The Last Jedi (VIII).
A JEDI BY ANY NAME. Yoda’s original name (during development) was Minch Yoda. In designing Jedi Master Yoda, makeup artist Stuart Freeborn used his own face as a model and added the wrinkles of Albert Einstein for the appearance of exceptional intelligence.
Separated at birth?
RENUMBERED AT BIRTH. It was on the theatrical release of The Empire Strikes Back that George Lucas revealed to the public the nine-film future of the franchise, prefacing the title in the opening credits with Episode V. The original film did not get the preface Episode IV until its re-release in 1981.
EERIE REBEL TIES. There were 15,549 days between the release of the first film and the final film in the nine-film Star Wars series. As it turns out, 15549 is the zip code of Listie, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated village about 4 miles from Somerset, which, strangely enough, was the center of another important rebellion, just not against imperial rule. Somerset was center stage for the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion – the first major test of federal authority under the new US Constitution and President George Washington.
The Force is strong here...
IMPRESSIVE PEDIGREE. Chris Terrio, who co-wrote the final installment in the series (releasing on Friday) with J.J. Abrams is best known for writing the screenplay for the 2012 film Argo, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
SAY IT AGAIN, HAN. The phrase "I have a bad feeling about this" or "I have a very bad feeling about this" is said in every Star Wars movie.
A NEVER ENDING SAGA. At least four other films in the Star Wars franchise are currently in development.