Wondering what’s been happening at StarWars.com? Here’s a quick roundup of what you might have missed this week!
Sometimes it take a near-disaster as well as happy news to remind us what has made — and keeps — Star Wars so strong and such an important part of the lives of so many of us around the world. When it all happens in the space of just seven days, it’s like a bright neon sign flashing the word COMMUNITY.
Let me tell you about my week. About an hour into a guided tour of Rancho Obi-Wan on Monday for eight adults and two children, my friend and museum general manager Anne Neumann appeared at the top of the stairs with as serious a look as I’ve ever seen on her face. “Steve, there’s a major problem in the garage. Come now!” she spit out breathlessly, then turned and left. I couldn’t imagine what was up, only remembering that the garage was filled with scores of cardboard boxes filled with thousands of books and magazines that might — or might not — be duplicates of what we had in the collection. There were also cardboard store displays and more boxes filled with old and new collectibles that were awaiting integration into the museum.
I didn’t set out to amass the world’s largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia, or WLPCoSWM for you acronym fans. It just kind of happened. It’s like a baby’s first steps: First one tentative foot forward, soon followed by the second, then a quicker third step…and the next thing you know, little Carl Lewis is winning nine Olympic gold medals in Track and Field!
San Diego Comic-Con International begins today, and I’ll be moderating a trio of panels this weekend. As I rush to make sure that we’re all clear on what we’ll be talking about, and all the video and visuals are good to go, I’m thinking back to my first Comic-Con, back in the summer of 2001. It was a very different animal back then.
Editor’s Note: Whether you’re a regular reader of this blog or not, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of, or met, Steve Sansweet. (And he’s appeared in the blog many, many times.) In addition to owning the world’s largest collection of Star Wars collectibles — on display at Rancho Obi-Wan — Steve has been a frequent presence at fan conventions, expos and gatherings around the world. He is also an advisor to Lucasfilm, where he served for over a decade as the company’s Head of Fan Relations. And now he’s a blogger. Welcome, Steve!
If you’re a fan who frequents any number of Star Wars collecting forums, Facebook pages or twitterfeeds, you probably picked up some heightened chatter starting last Saturday around 4:00pm PST. No, George wasn’t announcing the release of a seventh Star Wars episode, and no, a Blu-ray release of the Holiday Special (which looks bad in any resolution) isn’t imminent – rather, it was the grand re-opening of Rancho Obi-Wan, an enormous museum celebrating the merchandising legacy and fandom inspired by our favorite space saga. Its original — and far quieter — opening occurred way back in 1998, and has since served as a resource and spectacle for those lucky fans who have received a tour.
Around 200 guests file in to the new Rancho Obi-Wan (photo by Victoria Webb)
Rancho Obi-Wan – which houses the personal collection of Star Wars super-collector Steve Sansweet – was unveiling a spacious new addition to display Sansweet’s ever-expanding collection of Star Wars goodies, including full-size arcade games, bicycles, life-size droids, and fan-created artwork. What’s more, Steve announced Rancho Obi-Wan’s new nonprofit corporation status, which will “serve the public through the collection, conservation, exhibition and interpretation of Star Wars memorabilia and artifacts” (check out ranchoobiwan.org and Rancho’s official Facebook page ).
As we announced earlier today, Star Wars Celebration V will take place in Orlando, Florida on August 12-15, 2010; Registration goes live Thursday, Dec. 10.
Our friends over at TheForce.Net chatted with Lucasfilm Director of Fan Relations (and Collecting Guru & Author) Steve Sansweet about the news and what fans can expect.
Steve said first that the new partnership with show producer Reed Exhibitions gives them exclusive rights to do celebration events, and with his experience doing seven celebrations, and their massive experience producing shows, it took a long time to get everything about this partnership perfect. But along the way, Lucasfilm and Reed were working on venues, and that in itself is a big project, starting with 10 – 12 possible cities.
With Steve’s desire to continue to move the Celebrations around the country geographically, the west was pretty quickly ruled out, while cities like Baltimore, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Chicago and others were considered, some dropped out because they just didn’t have appropriate facilities or dates that worked. The long period spent finalizing a producing contract did affect the final date because Steve and Reed want this to be the best celebration yet and we all know that does take time to plan for them and for fans.
And as for if the Maker himself will show…
I had to ask whether Steve thought George Lucas would attend to which he couldn’t give a commitment, but that George always gets an invite, in fact, many people that fans would want to see get invites, but schedules and commitments often get in the way. My guess is if enough fans make it known they want to see George at the show, that will do more to get him there than anything. We’ll help, stay tuned.
More info here:
Official Star Wars Celebration V site
This Star Wars Spectacular report may be quite different from others because the Star Wars Spectacular is quite different this year. Joining Lucasfilm’s Head of Fan Relations Steve Sansweet on the stage to showcase some of the most exciting upcoming developments this year holds for Star Wars are G4’s Kevin Periera and Olivia Munn from “Attack of the Show.” This Hall H presentation will be broadcast on G4 tomorrow (Saturday, July 24, at 2pm), so those who want as thorough a recap as possible had best catch that show. Still, we want to keep you up to speed on the big beats, so here goes…
Star Wars: In Concert
The panel presentation started “cold” — with no preamble, no vocal introduction. Just the lights going down, and the massive screen coming to life with a video introduction of Star Wars: In Concert (see the video here).
A surprise presence then took the stage — Anthony Daniels, known to legions of Star Wars fans as C-3PO. “Star Wars [music] has always been one of the key characters in the Star Wars Saga,” said Daniels. “As key as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. We’ve all loved John Williams music as an integral part of the movies. And so I was thrilled to be asked to host what I thought would be a concert, with film clips.”
Daniels described the premiere at the O2 Arena in London, where Star Wars: In Concert first took shape. “I stood on the empty stage looking at the thousands of seats that would soon be filled by fans and music lovers. It felt magical. It felt like home. I felt good.”
Continued Daniels, “This thing was not ‘a concert with clips.’ It was indescribable. It was massive. Not only was I going to retell one of the greatest stories ever. My words would cue all this overwhelming technology. And all live… no retakes. Of course being on stage I sort of missed the whole thing. It wasn’t until later, when I saw a recording of the show that I realized just how good it is. I knew it was different but not that it was so extravagantly spectacular and thrilling.”
Star Wars: In Concert begins its Worldwide Tour in Anaheim on October 1. Daniels pointed audience members to www.StarWarsinConcert.com for more information and ticketing.
Welcome Your Hosts
Steve Sansweet next took the stage, a familiar fixture to the Star Wars fan community and the Comic-Con experience. Welcoming the fans, Sansweet quickly described how this Spectacular was different this time round. “This is the first time ever that a San Diego Comic-Con panel will be televised, but we like being first—just as Lucasfilm was the first film company to bring its story directly to fans with details and photos of a little space fantasy—way back in 1976!” Sansweet teased that next year is the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, and that it’s the perfect opportunity for a Star Wars Celebration. “We don’t have yet have an exact date or place, but we are in the planning stage of Star Wars Celebration V, coming to your galaxy next summer.”
He invited his co-hosts on to the stage, handing the baton to Kevin and Olivia (who had their hands filled with lightsabers as they dueled their way into stage). To show their devotion to Star Wars fandom, both showed up in costume. Olivia was decked out as sexy (but not Jabba’s slave) Princess Leia. “Now, nothing shows commitment more than strapping yourself into a metal bikini,” quipped Olivia. “But that outfit is – let’s call it: drafty. So I went in a different direction – what do you think?”
Uber collector Steve Sansweet recently picked a dozen of his favorite Star Wars collectibles to share with Forbes.com — quite a task given that Sansweet estimates his collection, which is stored within his 5,000 square foot “Rancho Obi-Wan”, holds more than 100,000 pieces!
Be sure to check out the 12 pieces he’s picked (including the Bantha piñata above) by clicking through to page 2 of the story. Do you have a favorite not mentioned? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Smack dab in the middle of the Fan Movie Challenge Awards, Steve Sansweet invited a special guest to the stage: director Kyle Newman, who has weathered a tumultous journey in the creation of his movie, Fanboys. Newman was remarkably civil in discussing the trials and tribulations of the making of the movie, and before his portion on stage ended, he surprised the assembled audience by inviting Fanboys producer Kevin Spacey to the stage. Later that night, the first 300 attendees of the Fan Movie Challenge Awards attended an exclusive screening of Fanboys.
What follows is a transcript of the Fanboys portion of the Fan Movies presentation, hosted by Steve Sansweet, Head of Fan Relations.