Everything Went Black: Darth Mouse

The future of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

Everything Went Black: Darth Mouse

In June of 1977, I stood in line with my dad to see a the new film that everyone was talking about. And I mean everyone. I'd just turned eleven a couple of months prior, but I could have been fifty, like my dad, and Star Wars still would have had a profound impact on me.

The film that would eventually spawn more pop-cultural ripples than perhaps any other movie ever made was, at the time, an improbable anomaly. The age of the summer blockbuster had been ushered in two years previously by Steven Spielberg's Jaws -- I saw that while on vacation with my family in Buzzard's Bay, Cape Cod, and I'm still a little freaked by open ocean water -- and George Lucas's thrill-a-minute space opera only cemented the encroaching primacy of boffo warm weather box office.

The theater in which I first watched Star Wars was the now long-gone Loew's Triplex, in the sleepy village of Pittsford, New York (and yes, it was actually called the Village of Pittsford; think Stand By Me and you're not too far off from my rural childhood). You can read about that exact theater here -- thanks, internet! -- but what I remember most about the experience, apart from the eye-popping, yellow-on-black opening crawl and that massive Imperial Star Destroyer looming into the frame, is how Loews relegated its Star Wars screenings to the crappy, 600-seat, stand-alone theater back behind the much larger main venue. The floors there were tacky with a scummy, soda-and-popcorn glaze, and when you walked to your seat your sneakers would make gross little squish-squeak sounds. The screen was pretty tatty, too.

But of course none of that made any difference once the film began, and afterwards I was so jazzed I made my parents buy me the vinyl LP of John Williams triumphal score. Which wasn't enough, natch: I had to have Meco's disco-fied Star Wars & Other Galactic Funk, too. Thus were the birth pangs of Lucas's grand vision as filtered through the mind of pre-teen, movie-mad protogeek. Meco?! I cringe even today. But the rest of my first-gen Star Wars experience -- the Kenner action figures, the cheap, blue plastic, light-up lightsaber, the surprisingly flammable Millennium Falcon model -- was nothing short of perfect.

So yesterday's double whammy of meganews out of Skywalker Ranch pretty much floored me. In case you've been living in a Sarlaac pit or your name is Harlan Ellison, the Lucas camp announced that Lucasfilm, Ltd is being bought by Disney for four-plus billion dollars, and three new Star Wars episodes are being prepped, with the first, Star Wars: Episode VII, targeted for a 2015 release. (We're gonna go out on a limb here and guess that'd be summer 2015.)

Like a lot of Star Wars fans, I'm not sure what to make of this just yet. Disney's acquisition of Pixar has produced some genius-level filmmaking, but on the other hand there's Disney's penchant for colorful drivel like Wreck-It Ralph. Ideally, the Mouse will take a paws-off approach to all things Lucasfilm, Ltd, but I doubt that will end up being the case, as Disney is a publicly-traded company beholden to its shareholders. Lucasfilm, Ltd, was one-hundred percent George. (Not that he hasn't made any colorful mistakes all by his lonesome.)

For now, I'll keep my fingers, or lightsabers, crossed and spend my downtime crafting amulets and talismans to ward off another Phantom Menace debacle. A short time in the future will tell...

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