America Goes Wild Over Movie "Star Wars"
F* America Goes Wild Over Movie ‘Star Wars By WILLIAM D. KERNS A-J Fine Arts Editor Few celebrities are more discussed these days than Luke Skywalker, Han Solo. Princess Leia Organa, Grand Moff Tarkin. Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi. See-Threepio. Artoo-Detoo. Lord Darth Vader and, of course, Chewbacca. All are characters in the film phenomenon called “Star Wars" — a space fantasy which manages to leave kids smiling. adults smiling and 20th Century Fox Films wearing the biggest gun of all. Probably the only unhappy party these days is Universal Films, the production company which spumed an opportunity to make the movie analysts now claim will become history's top monev-making picture The film is playing at the South Plains Cinema in Lubbock where, according to manager John Morgan. “It sold out even»- 7pm and 9 45 p m showing the first two weeks we had it. ‘Star Wars’ has set every house record — that is, broken all records previously held by 'The Exorcist.' We've had our highest grossing matinee, highest grossing evening, highest grossing day and highest grossing week already with ‘Star Wars.’ “Take the Fourth of July weekend, when a lot of people leave town We sold out the two evening shows Friday and all four showings on Saturday, Sunday and Monday 1 can remember 9 45 p.m. shows where we had sold 320 tickets (capacity is 350) and there was still a line all the way down to Dillards'’ Morgan says his theater has also already sold 125 “Star Wars’’ posters at $2 apiece, which is peanuts compared to the film-related merchandise others are handling Shirley Beard, manager of Century Bookstore, said, “We've sold over 500 copies of the novel ‘Star Wars’ in the last two to three weeks They’ve just been selling tremendously." The book, a novelization of George Lucas’ screenplay, was not even on the market before the film's June release At least one major Texas newspaper is serializing the novel in its Sunday pages. When asked how “Star Wars" soundtrack (music only) sales were holding up. Glenn Barnett of Record Town said, "We've sold at least 205 of the albums in the past two weeks or so, and probably 40 more cassettes and eight-tracks The business has been excellent The only thing that even came close for a soundtrack was ‘A Star Is Born' (which boasted established singers Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson as selling points)." The record outlet manager offered a bit of scale by adding, "Normally, we consider a soundtrack red hot when we sell five or ten copies a week." But the response is not imited to Lubbock It is literally sweeping the country. P. Dwyer, 20th Century Fox's district representative in Dallas, explained, “Analysts have made predictions that the film will wind up grossing between $150 million and $200 million It's pure star-gazing at this point, but the figures sure point at ‘Star Wars' being the all time winner at the box office. "Of course, no picture like this can get such astronomical revenue without repeat busmen the people who see it. then want to take a friend and see it again " Listening to the movie-goers in the Cinema lobby will find a few repeaters in no time flat. Morgan says he's seen the same faces in the ticket line at least five times, but he must have blinked once or twice Twelve-year-old John Parkins told the A-J he's seen Star Wars” six times already. “It's really neat." he explained. "I brought my folks a while back and they ended up taking this other married cou pie to see it on the weekend.’’ Martin Meredith, a 25-vear-old Lubbock realtor, has seen the picture seven times: once in Abilene and six times in Lubbock He's gone with a different person every time and added. “The sixth time 1 saw it I went with a large group, and all of us had already seen it twice before " But according to Dwyer, such outlandish reaction was impossible to predict “The film was made very quietly," he said “Not a lot of production publicity. My earliest report came from a vice president of production, who was predicting it would be the best movie of the year and perhaps the greatest ever made But how do you anticipate a Jaws?’ You can t You just hope for things like this You wonder, if it clicks, will it click like a Poseidon Adventure' or a Towering Inferno' or a Silver Streak' or a 'Butch Cassidy'’' Those films met with great response, but nothing the likes of ’Star Wars.' “For example, the front page of a Dallas newspaper re- centlv had a headline which read 'It’s Not A Star Wars Set' The story wasn’t even about Star Wars,’ but the film had crept into the headline And when a movie permeates the hard news area and TV broadcasts, you know you’ve got something special." Naturally, myriads of others want to jump on the bandwagon Fox Films has already filed $23 million in lawsuits against 12 people for allegedly "illegally reproducing Star Wars' material " And Dwyer said his office alone has been “bombarded with people requesting licenses to sell or reproduce 'Star Wars' merchandise " COUNTRY REACTS TO STAR WARS In this scene from the film phenomenon "Star Wars," I,like Sywalker and Han Solo disguise themselves as Imperial Storniti(Xipers and join Chewbacca. a 200-year-old Wookie, in fighting the Death Star. The film has become the rage of the nation and is ex |Hvted to become history's top money maker It also is making money for 20th Century Fox via exploitation merehan dise. For example, it won’t be long before Stormtrooper uni forms and Wookie masks will be available on the public market Asked to get into specifics. Dwyer accomodated with, "We've already lined up toy manufacturers, crafts games and Parker Brothers games so people can have their own X- wing fighters, light sabers and slam bombers T-shirts are sold at hundred of different places, and posters too. “Post International will be selling Star Wars’ material at 120 airport instillations Kenner Films has been licensed Reasonably priced children's masks will be sold soon — and (he more expensive, intricate one likes the Wookie mask will be available through Dr Post Studios. Marv el Comic Bodes. Peter Pan Records. Ballantine Books: they're all with us.” Still reeling them off. he said, "Fast food outlets, the ones offering glasses with historical figures, will have ‘Star Wars’. characters on their glasses within a month We ll have a major hamburger chain on this Talk is steady of having ‘Star Wars' trading cards, like baseball cards, and cards inside loaves of bread • A major soft drink company is currently contracting to put Star Wars' characters on posters, glassware and plastic cups Camera firms are having contests Costumes are being made available in a variety of sues And of course soon there will be licensed fan clubs, lunch boxes and model flying rockets.” Pausing for breath. Dwyer concluded, "The last guy 1 talked to wanted to be licensed to sell 'Stir Wars' belt buckles " And don’t think "Star Wars’* is a one shot movie Fox is the company that kept coming back with a sequel to the sequel to "Planet Of The Apes" a few years back and Dwyer said, “Alan Ladd Jr. with our feature department, has made a provision with Lucas contractually and artistically Star Wars' will follow the same route as Apt's We ll have three feature films and then follow up by producing a Star Wars' television series “ Asked fm more information regarding the sequel's direc (ion and proposed release date, the Fox representative said, "We re pretty sure Geoige l.ucas who wrote and directed the first one will do the other's As for a release date, who knows’’ The summer of 1979 is the date I've seen in inter views, but you have to ask will Lucas put the same time, pa tience. energy and creativity into Beyond Star Wars or whatever they call it "And what new optics will he be able to think tip” He used W0 separate optieals in the first 'Star Wars' " Those questions will obviously not be answered for at least a year Bill tha( does nol stop “Star Wars" from keeping Fox stock on a dramatic rise and fan interest burning ABC TV is already promoting a special on "Star Wars’’ which will air in mid September And alter watching the behind the scenes action. Lubboekites can still get up and drive out to the South Plains Cinema to see I,like, Han and Chewbacca battle Darth Vader s torws Because manager John Morgan says he's certain his thea ter will still be plaving "Star Wars" even then