Mindy Newell: May The Force Be With Us
Hans Solo: C’mon, baby, don’t let me down. • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Five days and counting down.
Unless you live in France, where all new movies must open on Wednesdays. Or unless you live in the United Kingdom, where it premieres on Thursday, December 17. Or unless you live in Bayonne, NJ, where my local theater, Franks Cinema, is starting showings also on Thursday at 7 P.M. Which is weird because I haven’t seen anything, either on television or on the web, about the U.S. release date being moved up by one day.
Not that I’m complaining.
Of course I’m talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams’ newest baby, which he “adopted” from George Lucas when Disney bought Lucasfilm. To tell you the truth, I’m very nervous about the film, the saga having been tainted by the prequel trilogy – although Return of the Sith was somewhat saved by the final light saber duel between Obi-Wan and Annakin. Still, Lawrence Kasdan is part of the writing team, and he is responsible, along with the late Leigh Brackett, for what I consider the best of the Star Wars saga, The Empire Strikes Back.
Aside: Once upon a time I sent Marvel editor Louise Simonson a story treatment for What If? – it was an alternate version of Empire’s ending, in which the twist was that Darth Vader got to Luke, hanging on that weather vane or radar apparatus or whatever it was, before the Millennium Falcon. She called me and told me that she loved it, but since Marvel’s Star Wars was a licensed property, I couldn’t do anything that reworked the canon. That was my first experience dealing with licensed properties. And by the way, I think it is a major sin that ComicMix’s own John Ostrander and his work on Star Wars for Dark Horse, who inherited the license from Marvel, was cut out of the “new, official” history.
Anyway, like many of us I have been bemused by what it seems to me to be an overdosed marketing campaign launched by Disney, although in an online story dated December 8 by Robert Hackett for Fortune magazine, he quotes Disney CEO Bob Eiger calling the publicity machine “extremely deliberate” and “carefully constructed” and specifically saying “We are managing this with great care.” The article goes on to say that Disney has spent only $17 million on public relations, against the usual $50 million that movie studios typically spend on “blockbuster” movies.
Of course that $17 million doesn’t count the seven marketing partners that are flooding the airwaves, including Fiat Chrysler. To be honest, I do find some of these ads very clever and amusing. I just saw an ad for Dodge, which the company titled “The Force Gathers.” With “The Imperial March” ominously playing, a black Dodge Viper – a stand-in for Darth Vader – leads an army of white Dodge Chargers, Challengers, and Durangos, i.e., “Stormtroopers,” down a major metropolitan street, passing scared pedestrians and heading towards two very nervous parking valets standing in front of a theatre playing The Force Awakens. The fun twist is the homage to another major film that changed movies forever, as one valet paraphrases to the other, “We’re gonna need more valets.”
Still, part of me is sad and misses those halcyon days when a sci-fi fantasy space opera made on the cheap exploded onto the world through simple word-of-mouth. Those days, I think, are pretty much gone forever.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens carries a huge monkey on its back.
I really hope it doesn’t let us down.
Thanks and a tip of the Dark Helmut to Nerdist.com for the awesome hunk of art atop this column.
I’m seeing the film in San Diego at 10:00 pm on Thursday evening. I believe there are earlier showings and this surprised me. I also thought that getting into the midnight seating would put me ahead of many of my fellow fans. Guess my step-daughter was smart to check.
Still I think I’m going to have to limit my time on social media for the next couple of days, since it will only take one smug jerk or critic to spoil everything for the rest of us.
Anyone taking bets on post-credit goodies?
Post-credits? Like Mace Windu shows up and asks Finn to join The Jedi Initiative?
Got a ticket to see it tomorrow afternoon (Friday, the 17th) at the above mentioned theatre, Steve. Even though it’s opening tonight there.
Did you spot Daniel Craig?
That fact is being debated, Mike!
How about Carrie Fisher’s daughter?
Here’s link about the world premiere in Los Angeles last night (Monday, December 14):
There are NO SPOILERS in the link.
Let’s put it this way – the way o felt coming out of this one is closer to how i felt coming out of the advance screening of the first one, all those years ago than how i felt coming out of even “Return of the Jedi”
I didn’t love RETURN OF THE JEDI, Mike. Walked out feeling very dissatisfied because there was SO much more that could have been instead of the too-many minutes of Ewoks.
But walked out of THE FORCE AWAKENS totally thrilled…and feeling like I did when I walked out of EMPIRE the first time–THREE YEARS????? NOOOOOOOOOOO!….but at least this time we only have to wait 2 years.
P.S.: And yes, the “NOOOOOOOOO” is a play on Annakin/Vader’s last pitiful scream.
You have to tell me about the “NOOO!”, because i haven’t seen that.
So disgusted with “Phantom Menace” (“Episode 1” i will not call it) that we skipped the next two entirely.