We’re a little late this week, but we’ve all been putting in long hard hours to bring you this weeks episode. BD begins his series into the history of George Lucas and the creation of the Star Wars Empire. Take a look at part one and tell us what you think!
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DiTD11-Road to Star Wars Part I-Notes
What’s up everyone, welcome back to the Devils in the details, I’m BD, and let’s just light this candle.
A sequel is a literature, film, theatre, television , music or video game that continues the story of, or expands upon, some earlier work.
In the common context of a narrative or work of fiction, a sequel or prequel, portrays events set in the same fictional universe as its predecessor.
Usually but not always, chronologically following the events of that work.
In many cases, the sequel continues elements of the original story, often with the same characters and settings.
A sequel can lead to a series, in which key elements appear repeatedly.
Although the difference between more than one sequel and a series is somewhat arbitrary,
it is clear that some media franchises have enough sequels to become a series, whether originally planned as such or not.
But why make a sequel and why are there so many? Simple answer really. Money.
There is no denying that sequels are a lucrative business, and it is probably easier for studios to justify making a sequel to a popular movie than taking risks with new, original ideas.
In this case, Star Wars, the greatest and most profitable franchise in movie history.
Now I’m going to keep coming back to Star Wars, not every week, I’ll break it up with other videos, but I’m going give you a couple of reasons why am going to come back to Star Wars more often than not.
It fascinates me, like no other thing fascinates me as much as the Star Wars Empire. And it’s not just the movies.
Although the films are what hooked me initially. It’s all the details that surround its inception and creation,
both about the films and the business or conglomerate and also everything it subsequently spawned it its wake and its history.
And the truth is, as much as I’d like to cram its entire history into a short little 10 minute video, that’s just not feasible.
So instead, what I’ll do is try to stick with the details that I found the most interesting about the Star Wars galaxy and put out a video on it every now and then and try not to cover something I’ve covered before.
But if I do touch on a subject I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s only to elaborate a little more on said subject and offer more insight.
The 70’s was a great decade to be alive, perhaps not the best, but certainly in the top 5 if you’re going to rate it from let’s say the 19 hundreds.
Much less technology, no internet, no information overload, if you wanted the daily news, you had to go out and buy a newspaper or wait for the evening news on t.v.
The 70’s was also the decade that gave birth to Hollywood’s new wave of American cinema and saw the emergence of a fresh new type of avant-guard movie creators and directors,
such as Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, Sergio Leone, William Friedkin, Roman Polanski, and many many more including, George Walton Lucas Jr.
Lucas was born May 14th, 1944 in Modesto California.
Upon graduating from the University of southern California in 1967, Lucas co-founded American Zoetrope with fellow filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. Lucas had met Coppola when he was awarded with a Warner Brothers scholarship to observe the making of Coppola’s movie: Finian’s Rainbow.
Both of them hitting it off instantly with Coppola taking Lucas under his wing and becoming his mentor.
Lucas then went on to write and direct THX 1138 in 1971, based on his earlier student short, Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which was a critical success but a financial failure..
His next work as a writer-director was the film American Graffiti released in 1973, inspired by his teen years in the early 60’s, and produced through the newly founded Lucasfilm.
The film was critically and commercially successful, and received five Academy Award nominations including Best Picture.
Despite having been turned down by United Artist, 20th Century Fox, Columbia pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Brothers,and Paramount pictures.
The studios gave him many reasons why they wouldn’t back American Graffiti.
They told Lucas that they felt it didn’t really have a story, that it wasn’t really about anything.
That he couldn’t tell 4 different stories intercut together that weren’t related to each other.
They told him that it would be impossible to do, that he couldn’t put that much music in a film, to have a soundtrack run throughout the entire movie.
He was finally able to convince Universal pictures to finance and distribute his film but only once Coppola had agreed to produce it.
The studio also intended to release the movie on television as opposed to theatrically, it wasn’t until after many preview test screenings, that positive word mouth got out, audiences loved it.
And the film was finally released as a Feature.
It was produced on a $777,000 dollar budget, and has become one of the most profitable films of all time..
Since its initial release, American Graffiti has garnered an estimated return of well over $200 million in box office gross and home video sales, not including merchandising.
In 1995, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National film registry.
When Lucas finished American Graffiti, he was broke, he really didn’t get paid very much to do that film.
He then attempted to buy the rights to Flash Gordon. He said he wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, with all the trimmings, but He couldn’t obtain the rights to the characters.
So He began researching and went all the way back and found where Alex Raymond, who had done the original Flash Gordon comic strips in newspapers, had got his idea from.
He discovered that he’d got his inspiration from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of Tarzan, and especially from his John Carter of Mars series of books.
He read through that series, then found that what had sparked Burroughs off was a science-fantasy called Gulliver on Mars, written by Edwin Arnold and published in 1905.
That was the first story in this genre that he had been able to trace.
Jules Verne had gotten pretty close, but he never had a hero battling against space creatures or having adventures on another planet. A whole new genre developed from that idea.
Coppola recalled that Lucas was very depressed because they wouldn’t sell him Flash Gordon. Lucas then decided that he would just invent his own. He envisioned his own Space Opera and called it “The Star Wars”.
Lucas was pretty desperate to find another job. Once again he started doing his rounds of the Studios but this time with his latest script then titled “the Star Wars”..
Lucas began writing in January of 1973, “eight hours a day, five days a week”, by taking small notes, inventing odd names and assigning them possible characterizations.
Lucas would discard many of these by the time the final script was written, but he included several names and places in the final script or its sequels.
He revived others decades later when he wrote his prequel trilogy.
He used these initial names and ideas to compile a two-page synopsis titled Journal of the Whills, which told the tale of the training of apprentice CJ Thorpe as a “Jedi-Bendu” space commando by the legendary Mace Windy.
Frustrated that his story was too difficult to understand, Lucas then began writing a 13-page treatment called “The Star Wars” on April 17, 1973, which had thematic parallels with Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 film The hidden Fortress.
After United Artists declined to budget the film, Lucas and producer Gary Kurtz presented the film treatment to Universal pictures, the studio that financed American Graffiti.
However, it rejected its options for the film because the concept was “a little strange”, and it said that Lucas should follow American Graffiti with more consequential themes.
Lucas said, he’d always been an outsider to Hollywood types. He said they think he does weirdo films.
According to Kurtz, Lew Wasserman, the studio’s head, “just didn’t think much of science fiction at that time, didn’t think it had much of a future then, with that particular audience”.
He said that “science fiction wasn’t popular in the mid-’70’s.
What seems to be the case generally is that the studio executives are looking for what was popular last year, rather than trying to look forward to what might be popular next year.
Lucas explained in 1977 that the film is not “about the future” and that it “is a fantasy much closer to the Brothers Grimm than it is to 2001 A Space Odyssey.
He added that his main reason for making it was to give young people an honest, wholesome fantasy life, the kind his generation had.
They had westerns, pirate movies, all kinds of great things.
He said now they have the $6 million man, and Kojak.
Where is the romance, the adventure, and the fun that used to be in practically every movie made?”
Kurtz said, “Although Star Wars wasn’t like that at all, it was just sort of lumped into that same kind of science fiction category.”
There were also concerns regarding the project’s potentially high budget.
Lucas and Kurtz, in pitching the film, said that it would be low-budget, Roger Corman style, and the budget was never going to be more than about 8 million, but it did end up ballooning up to nearly 11 million.
Proving only that Fox were invested enough to see it to the finish line.
Both of those figures were very low for any budget by Hollywood standards at the time.
After Walt Disney productions, who later bought Lucasfilm in December 2012, rejected the project, Lucas and Kurtz persisted in securing a studio to support the film because other people had read it and agreed that it could be a good idea.
Lucas pursued Alan Ladd Jr. the head of 20th century fox, and in June 1973 completed a deal to write and direct the film.
Although Ladd did not grasp the technical side of the project, he believed that Lucas was talented.
Lucas later stated that Ladd had not invested in the movie, that he had in fact, invested in Lucas himself.
The deal gave Lucas $150,000 to write and direct the film.
Since commencing his writing process in January 1973, Lucas had done various rewrites in the evenings after the day’s work.
He would write four different screenplays for Star Wars, searching for just the right ingredients, characters and storyline.
By May 1974, he had expanded the film treatment into a rough draft screenplay, adding elements such as the Sith, the Death Star, and a general by the name of Annikin Starkiller.
He changed Starkiller to an adolescent boy, and he shifted the general into a supporting role as a member of a family of dwarves.
Lucas envisioned the Corellian smuggler, Han Solo, as a large, green-skinned monster with gills.
He based Chewbacca on his alaskan malamute, Indiana, whom he would later use as namesake for his character Indiana Jones, who often acted as the director’s “co-pilot” by sitting in the passenger seat of his car.
Lucas began researching the science-fiction genre by watching films and reading books and comics.
His first script incorporated ideas from many new sources.
The script would also introduce the concept of a Jedi Master father and his son, who trains to be a Jedi under his father’s friend; this would ultimately form the basis for the film and, later, the trilogy.
However, in this draft, the father was a hero who is still alive at the start of the film.
Of the story, Lucas said : “It’s the flotsam and jetsam from the period when he was twelve years old. All the books and films and comics that He liked when He was a child. The plot is simple—good against evil—and the film is designed to be all the fun and fantasy things he remembers. His word for this movie is fun.”
The Road to Star Wars is without a doubt, a long one, as long as a Canadian highway. And I’m looking forward to picking up where I’m leaving off today.
If you’d like to share any thoughts, the comments section is down below.
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I’ll see you guys next week.