George Lucas has never been a household name to compare with Disney or Spielberg. But Christopher Tookey argues that the maker of "Star Wars" is the most important figure in world cinemaby Christopher Tookey / March 20, 1997 / Leave a comment
Published in March 1997 issue of Prospect Magazine
Twenty years after the release of Star Wars, the force is with us again-the sales force, that is. George Lucas and Twentieth Century Fox have spent $10m improving the sound and special effects of the trilogy, even adding new scenes. Over the next two months, it is being released with a $20m advertising campaign and a $2 billion Pepsi tie-in.
Some Star Wars fans are outraged, accusing Lucas of tampering with their childhood dreams. Even so, the re-release has outgrossed every new movie in the US. Plans are also well advanced to shoot a second trilogy (mainly in Britain) for release in 1999, 2001 and 2003.
Why all the interest? A cynical but accurate reply is: because there is a merchandising opportunity. The first trilogy drew more than $800m at the box office and over $3 billion in licensed merchandise. Star Wars merchandise has continued to sell over the last 20 years. Since 1990, Bantam Books have sold 15m Star Wars-based novels. Last year, Fox re-released the trilogy as a video set and sold 22m copies in six months.
Star Wars is that rare combination-a mass market blockbuster and a cult hit. The internet has 12 web sites devoted to a minor Star Wars character, Boba Fett, a bounty hunter who appears for eight minutes, speaks five lines and dies.
The film’s melodramatic view of the universe even-arguably-destroyed communism. President Reagan liked to call the Soviet Union the “evil empire,” and commissio-ned the “Star Wars” defence policy which broke the Soviet economy.