To George and Mellody,
Congratulations on the exciting news! We wish you all the happiness in the world.
Your Lucasfilm family
Twenty-two years ago, in the breakfast room at the Main House at Skywalker Ranch, I sat down to lunch with George Lucas and Bob Iger. Bob was then head of ABC, and George was pitching him on a new TV series called The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. ”It’s an educational show, Bob,” I remember George saying. “Nobody will watch it.” I cringed. Not exactly the best way to sell a show. But Bob said, “I don’t care. I’ll take that chance.” True to his word, Bob Iger stuck with Young Indy for two seasons, through critical success and ratings failure. In the process he won George’s trust and forged a relationship that would pay huge dividends far in the future.
Wondering what’s been happening at StarWars.com? Here’s a quick roundup of what you might have missed this week, including some major Star Wars: Episode VII news and lots more!
I used to work for Disney. I’m not sure how many of you knew that. I was in the Television Animation Division, and I worked on projects like Teamo Supremo, Kim Possible, Lilo and Stitch: The Series, Dave the Barbarian, and Fillmore. It was an amazing time for me as an animation artist. Walking around the studio lot and seeing the influence that Walt Disney himself had on every aspect of his studio. When I started at Lucasfilm I saw that same attention to detail everywhere around me, and it all came directly from George.
For Star Wars fans, today’s great news is seismic. The prospect of new movies invites a rush of questions as the mind races to grasp its implications. The one that sticks in my mind, though, isn’t about the movies. It’s: “Where were you when you heard?” While the temptation is to speculate wildly on what lies beyond the horizon and be mindful of the future, I also don’t want to lose track of the present, as Qui-Gon advises in Episode I.
To my fellow old school Star Wars fans, I ask you to reach into your collection and dust off Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine #10, the Winter 1990 issue of the official fan club magazine. I’ll wait while you admire the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade cover. Now flip it open, and there, on page 1, is the breathless headline that blares, “The FORCE To Return In The 90′s!!”
The long conjectured third Star Wars trilogy has kept fans guessing for decades, and may even have a few numerologists working on their mysteries. George Lucas’ shifting feelings about future Star Wars trilogies have consistently clouded the picture. Given the difficulties associated with the birth of Star Wars in 1977, it’s no wonder that Lucas’s ideas kaleidoscoped. When trying to get such a big undertaking up and running and out the door, visions of the future are understandably hazy. But, as of October 30, 2012, Episodes VII, VIII and IX have been announced as real and soon to be tangible — but they’ve existed as gossamer spirits for nearly 40 years.
On December 29, 1975, in conversation with Alan Dean Foster per the novelization of Star Wars, Lucas mentioned the prequel trilogy along with what would become Episodes V and VI: “I want to have Luke kiss the Princess in the second book. In the third book, I want the story just about the soap opera of the Skywalker family, which ends with the destruction of the Empire. Then someday I want to do the back story of Kenobi as a young man – a story of the Jedi and how the Emperor eventually takes over and turns the whole thing from a Republic into an Empire, and tricks all the Jedi and kills them. The whole battle where Luke’s father gets killed. That would be impossible to do, but it’s great to dream about.”
Today’s double-barreled announcement – that The Walt Disney Co. is buying Lucasfilm Ltd. and that more Star Wars movies are going to be made starting almost immediately – has me pinching myself – but this is no dream. For me, and for countless millions of fellow Star Wars fans worldwide, this thunderclap couldn’t possibly be any better. Let me explain.
Last Friday, a sidewalk became a Star Wars- and Indiana Jones-themed art gallery.
The first annual Lucasfilm Sidewalk Art Festival was held between buildings A and B of the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco’s Presidio, with original chalk art created by teams consisting of four or fewer Lucasfilm employees. From photo-realistic portraits to Simpsons-style reinterpretations, the final results were truly stunning.
This would be the fifth or sixth time I’d be asking George about the making of one of his films. In this case, we’d be talking about The Making of Return of the Jedi. The first official interview was back in 2004 for a book on The Making of Revenge of the Sith. Then we went back in time to Star Wars, the Indiana Jones films, and Empire, for their respective books. For each I always bring lots of backup: extra batteries, a second recorder, notes, laptop (optional)… and of course the questions. (The last thing I want to be doing is scribbling frantically—though that’s what I had to do on set, as it wasn’t practical otherwise.)
Editor’s Note: Even though it has been 35 years since Star Wars was released in theaters, and almost 30 since Return of the Jedi, we remain fascinated with untold stories and unseen assets that take us inside the production of the movies. Few people are more devoted to unearthing and telling these stories than Lucasfilm’s J. W. Rinzler. With an unprecedented level of access to the Lucasfilm archives, and to the cast and crew who helped create Star Wars, Rinzler has authored definitive accounts about The Making of Star Wars and The Making of Empire Strikes Back, and is now hard at work on The Making of Return of the Jedi. And, with all of his spare time, Rinzler has agreed to join us a regular contributor to the blog. Read on as he introduces himself and shares more about what you can expect in his future posts!
With the signed photo that ILM gave George Lucas upon completion of their first ever visual effects shot for Star Wars, in front of the Main House, SR (we reproduced this in the Making of ESB book).