George Lucas struggled for years to make people believe in his vision. He is an amazing filmmaker and an example to all of us who have visions that are outside the norm.
Lucas started his career with an odd futuristic movie that not many people “got” only to follow that with “American Graffitti,” a 50’s nostalgia flick that also got mixed reviews. You would think at this point, since he is in a career that relies upon public approval, that Lucas would have adopted the most popular genre and tried to gain fans through addressing that. But he didn’t.
Instead he spent years working on a high budget space movie unlike anything the public had seen or approved of throughout history. It was Star Wars, released in 1977. I was 8 years old when I saw Star Wars the first time, and my mind was blown, along with the minds of every other kid about my age. I saw Star Wars 17 times as a kid. The movie was part of my psyche. I remember playing the soundtrack record and reciting lines from the movie as I did.
Since then, Lucas has been able to do whatever he chooses with film. His story is truly an amazing thing. Oh, and one other tidbit that brings his story home to me is the fact that he was born close to me in Modesto, California . . . not on Mount Zion or other place like that.
There are countless kids (including adult kids) that Star Wars has amazed. Thanks for believing in your vision George.
Below are 30 pieces of little-known trivia about Star Wars that fans of George Lucas might enjoy: (source)
THE MAKING OF STAR WARS
1. The first trailer for the film hit cinemas six months before it was to open – with tag lines such as “the story of a boy, a girl and a universe” and “a billion years in the making” – as executives hoped to drum up some interest in a film they had little faith in.
2. Made on a budget of $11m (5.5m) it made $215m (108m) in the US during its original release, and $337m (170m) overseas. The final film in the franchise – Revenge of the Sith – cost about $113m (57m) to make.
3. It was originally called The Star Wars, but “the” was dropped fairly early on in the creative process.
4. The full title Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope first appeared when the film was re-released in 1981.
5. Director George Lucas originally had a contract with Fox for $150,000 (75,941) for writing and directing Star Wars. But he cannily insisted on total control and 40% of merchandising – something the studio agreed to because they had no idea of what a phenomenon Star Wars would become.
6. The famous – and often imitated – opening crawl for Star Wars was co-written by Brian De Palma, the director of Scarface. It begins “It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.”
7. Sir Alec Guinness made a ton of money from the film having recognised its potential success and negotiating a deal for two per cent of box office takings. He also refused to do any promotional work for the film.
8. Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2, are the only actors credited with being in all six Star Wars films.
9. Harrison Ford was far from George Lucas’ first choice to play Han Solo as the director had wanted completely new faces for Star Wars. Ford had already starred in Lucas’ American Graffiti.
10. The original release date was set for Christmas 1976 but major delays in filming saw it pushed back. The Fox studio had threatened to close down production when filming over-ran by more than two weeks.
11. Ralph McQuarrie created the paintings which were used to illustrate how the Star Wars universe could look. He started out as a technical illustrator for Boeing.
12. The Wookiee Chewbacca was inspired by George Lucas’ beloved dog Indiana – an Alaskan malamute.
13. Lucas once said that the shape of the Millennium Falcon was based on a hamburger.
14. George Lucas based the character of Han Solo on his friend Francis Ford Coppola.
15. The droids R2-D2 and C-3PO are said to be based on the 1958 Akira Kourosawa film Kakushi toride no san akunin (The Hidden Fortress). Other characters in Star Wars were also drawn from the film including Han Solo and Ben Kenobi.
MARKETING AND MERCHANDISING
16. Cinemas in the US were press-ganged into buying the film after few took up the option, with the threat that they wouldn’t get The Other Side of Midnight – a widely-anticipated adaptation of a Sidney Sheldon novel. The Other Side of Midnight, starring Susan Sarandon, was a box office flop.
17. Publicity supervisor Charles Lippincott was aware of the power of the sci-fi fan, going along to conventions to talk about Star Wars and what audiences could expect. He was largely credited with bringing in huge opening day audiences.
18. The merchandise for the film was not in place to accommodate the demand for the first Christmas rush after the film’s release. Lucas and merchandise company Kenner Toys hit upon a novel idea with the introduction of early bird certificate boxes. These were basically empty boxes that promised the receiver they would get the figures once they had been made. They sold for $16 at the time and the actual figures arrived two months later. Limited edition packs were re-released in 2005.
19. More than 250 million small action figures were shipped in the eight years after the first film, going to countries across the world. In the first year alone 42m were sold.
20. Composer John Williams won an Oscar for his score for Star Wars. The music was later named by the American Film Institute as the greatest film score of all time.
21. A New Hope was the only one of the six films in the franchise to be nominated in the Academy Awards best picture category. It lost out to Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.
MISHAPS AND MISCELLANEOUS
22. Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, was involved in a car accident following primary shooting. His face was damaged making reshoots impossible. Hamill later said he only broke his nose and reports that his face was reconstructed were wide of the mark.
23. Anthony Daniels was injured during his first outing as C-3PO when a leg piece fell off his gold-coloured costume and shattered – stabbing him in the foot.
24. On the first day of filming in the deserts of Tunisia, the country experienced its first major rainstorm in 50 years and a rest day had to be called.
25. When filming moved to Elstree it was hoped the earlier problems encountered in the desert would be finished. But a new problem arose in the shape of the strict British working conditions adhered to on set. Lucas says that filming had to close at 5.30pm on the dot, unless he was in the middle of a shot – when he could ask workers to stay for an extra 15 minutes.
Darth Vader costume
Darth Vader was played by British actor Dave Prowse
26. One of the most famous bloopers from the film is when stormtroopers burst into a room and one of them hits his head on the door frame. Fans of Star Wars and the blooper have spotted hundreds of “mistakes” throughout the Star Wars franchise but many can only be spotted by the most eagle-eyed viewer.
27. Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca, worked as a hospital orderly in London before being cast as the Wookiee. He was said to have got into character by copying the mannerisms of animals he visited at the zoo.
28. David Prowse, the 6ft 7ins actor who plays Darth Vader, had problems filming lightsaber scenes as he kept breaking the poles that were used as stand-ins for the weapons. In the sequels, fight co-ordinator Bob Anderson stepped into the costume to film the lightsaber scenes.
29. George Lucas wanted his sets to look worn and scuffed but the studio cleaning service continually cleaned and tidied up after a day’s filming – much to the director’s dismay.
30. Lucas’ stress levels reached such a height that he thought he was having a heart attack. He was diagnosed with hypertension and exhaustion and told to rest – something the punishing schedule would not allow. One can only imagine his life insurance quotes now.