Archive for May 21st, 2010


may 21st 2010, the 30th anniversary of George Lucas’s & Irvin Kershner’s “the empire strikes back”

This is one anniversary that I find totally impossible to believe!!!! It literally seems like yesterday that this movie was in the theaters!!! Man I’m old, HAAA! Anyways  it is now 30!!!!! 1980 was my senior year at Thunderbird High school in Phoenix Arizona and we had a week to go before we graduated. The 21st was on a Wednesday (the middle of the school week) and we were heavy into finals, and all I wanted to do was to sneak out to see the “Empire” on opening day. The anticipation for this movie was major and it was an unsettling feeling that school and work had to come first,,, In Phoenix there was a grand theater called the Cine Capri and it had the exclusive rights to be the only theater in town to show the movie,, the same was true with Star Wars three years earlier with lines of people wrapping around the building for months, this was a normal site as you would drive past the Capri. No different with the opening of the “The Empire”. It to had just as many folks camping out for days before the release. While at school the news was on in one of our classes and the hot story was the massive crowd in line around the theater. The news camera stopped on three high school students studying, Haaaa! or at least acting like they were because of the cameras, Getting a good look at their faces it was obvious that the three were from our class!!!! OOOOW-WAAAH it was like being friends with Neil Armstrong and watching him walk on the moon!!! Our boys had breached the line and were going to be in the first show!!! Tim Ray was one of the guys there and I can’t recall who the others were but we were all screaming and laughing as we saw them on the tube!!! After school which was about 1:00 my friend Mark Zainer and I ran down to the theater and waited in line for like six hours to find out that every show was sold out except for a couple of seats at the midnight show,,,,,we grabbed em and then had to hang out close to the Capri for the next 5 hours until it was midnight.  We discovered a mall about a block or two away called the Town and Country and found an awesome Philly Cheese Steak sandwich place, we ate under this really cool metal and stone sculpture of the Phoenix Bird (the very same sculpture that was used for the logo on the Phoenix warp ship from Star Trek First Contact)  Time drug ever so slowly and every two hours or so we would listen to the cheers, applause and excitement as the crowds would flow out of the exits of the theaters!!!! Finally our time came and as you walked thru the lobby the walls were covered with these beautiful prints of all the Ralph McQuarrie art from the film, I so wanted to jump line and go get a closer look but I wasn’t going to let go of my spot in line. Once in we were making our way down the long rows of seats and we wound up in the third row center.  What was nice about the Capri was that every seat was great as we would soon find out…. The front row had at least 20 feet before you got to the screen and the screen itself was curved to accommodate those big surround films of the 60’s. all the seats had a high back that your head fit in and the slope of the floor gave you an almost totally unobscured view of the screen.. It was almost 12:30 before the lights went down and the big curtains opened,,,, The hiss and pop of the analog speakers started up and the crowd was screaming!!!!  Daaaaaa Da Da,,,,, Daaaaaa Da Da,,,, the fox theme started to roll then the silent frame hit the screen,   A Long time ago in a galaxy far far away,,,,,,,,,,,, BOOOOM the mighty John Williams score took over as the big Star Wars logo zoomed out into space followed by,,,,,,, WHAT!!!!!!  Episode V!!!!!!!!! Everyone was looking around  and babbling to each other trying to figure out what that meant and how did we all miss episodes 2,3, and 4,,,, the mystery was quickly dismissed as the words scrolled on by,,, the lone Star destroyer entered the frame launching little probes in all directions and in that first couple of shots you could tell the models and VFX had come to a new level of detail and perfection. For the next two hours We all screamed, laughed and were in awe at what we saw on the screen….The Tauntans  running across the frozen waists,,,the motion sickness that came with the the snow speeder’s POV following the snowy terrain looking for Solo and SkyWalker, the wonder as the Falcon Turns space into a 360 degree arena to fly in as he try’s to escape the Empire… The incredibly dizzying ride thru the asteroid field,,, and the countless other magical moments!!!! The city in the clouds, the introduction of Boba Fett, and his ship the Slave One, the romantic moments of Leia and Solo all surrounded by one of John Williams finest scores… The movie was opening up all these new doors and so many under stories were going on at the same time that I didn’t want it to ever end,,, I was gearing up for what was going to happen next. The crowd was all blown away with the Vader being Luke’s dad and the slicing off of his hand with a saber!!! Holly Cow this movie is SO out of control,,,in a good way that is…… We were all watching the medical frigate pass by , catching our breaths and gearing up for what was going to happen next. the big ship starts to turn away from the camera and boom the ending credits hit the screen!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! I screamed like my own hand had been cut off!!! NOOOOOOO, IT CANT END HERE!!!! the crowd was all a mix of hoops and hollers and I wanted to watch it again that moment! My Buddy Mark and I talked about it for hours,,  and we went back quite a few more times to see it again and again.. after a while Mark burned out so I turned to my buddy  from art class Linda Gurney who was a huge fan herself, we defiantly had a good time and boy did she jump when the Mineocks flew by the window of the Falcon,,I did nothing to add to that scary moment,,, like a little slap to her arm, HEEEEE-HEEE- HAWWWW what fun memories!!!! To this day TESB is still my favorite of all SCI FI films and personally I think it is a perfect film…. Irvin Kershner’s storytelling magic is what brought all the elements together to make a motion picture Masterpiece… Rarely to never is part two as good as the original let alone better but In my personal opinion “The Empire Strikes Back”, “The Road Warrior”, “Star Trek II the Wrath of Kahn”and “The Dark Knight” are the only three movies that soar high above the originals. The Empire played at the Capri solid for close to a year and and I can’t even remember how many times I went,,, Sitting in that theater that first night I had my destiny set and walking out I knew I had to work in the movies,,, many films added to that encouragement for the next five years but the Empire was the one that took the dream out of the idea box and made it a passion. I owe a great deal to George Lucas, Irwin Kirshner, and especially Joe Johnson, Nilo Rodis, Ralph McQuarrie and all the rest of those incredibly talented folks, (many of which are now friends which I still find amazing)  It was a magical time for movies to be sure, and my thoughts often go back to the summer of 1980. on a side note I met Kersh when we were making the pilot of SeaQuest, Irvin was brought on as the director and I was there to help flesh out the story into drawings along with Richard Lewis, and Jim Lima. One day He brought in his 35mm copy of “Empire”and we all watched it at the Amblin theater and it is one of my fondest experiences working in Hollywood having Kershner talk over his own film!!!!! On top of his directorial talents Kersh is a very funny man and it was always fun to go over to his flat when he had some ideas to be drawn up or to fix his stop motion puppet from Robocop II. I’ll have to drop him a line today to wish him a happy 30th!!!! Well with all that said here are some pics snagged from the internet!!! I just upgraded my mac with snow leopard and am finding out that a LOT of programs no longer work with the upgrade…. I just found out tonight that DVD capture no longer works so all the pics I wanted to pull or not going to be a part of todays story!!! AH-HMMMMMM! So now that that unhappy moment has been discussed, the pictures you are going to see first are of the two posters for “Empire”, the US theatrical release one sheet, and the Australian poster, I love both of them and find it hard to pick a fav so here they are. Next is a picture or two of the Cine Capri followed by the Phoenix bird and then a few grabs from the film,, The final picture is of an awesome young lady  who took Wonderfest by storm!!! I was sitting at my table at Wonderfest and across the room strolls a female bounty hunter in a very custom & cool modified Bobba Fett outfit… I ran over got a couple of pictures, and out from under the helmet came a gal named Jessie…. Jes is obviously a big fan of Star Wars, so much so that she created her own version of  the infamous bounty hunter with some generous nods to Bobba Fett while making this outfit completely here own. Jes has really done an awesome job at creating her own character, not only in appearance but also in her motions and gestures….  She packs a mighty big blaster and is a master with some very sharp blades,,, After the Fest was over on Sunday night we did a quick photo shoot in the convention room so stay tuned for lots more.  Jessie had her best friend with her to keep everything together with pins,velcro & tape,  I found out later that her dad was also cruising the show in his very own home made HALO suit,, what a cool and uniquely fun family!!!  OK then time to sign off so ENJOY all the pictures  and Happy 30th to “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK”

the poster US

Cine Capri

That awesome Capri screen

the Phoenix from Town and Country

This was the first piece of McQuarrie art we saw in the lobby

wow what a huge and cool set

one of those awesome speeder shots

those way cool walkers

Vader at his best!

were going in closer to one of the big ones

the cockpit


every geek had a big crush on Carrie Fisher, She had two big movies out in the summer of 80 and looked gorgeous in both,,, the other one was the Blues Brothers

interview the bounty hunters,,, Fett stood out even in this scene,, everyone wanted to Fett to be the best

approaching Bespin

models and paintings,, looks awfully darned real to me!!!

next to the Falcon this is the greatest space ship design ever

and we end with the coolest of the bad guys


Jessie and company!

May 2010