Star Wars was literally a 'block buster'

May 25, 2019
Fans Queueing to see Star Wars in 1977

Star Wars was a true block buster - people queued for hours to see the movie

Following on the fins of the original blockbuster Jaws, here's a picture that that shows people queuing to see the original Star Wars movies in 1977.

Check out how it was advertised as being a 70mm print and in 6 track stereo sound!

Star Wars, as it was simply known back then, was not your typical movie blockbuster like today.

It did not have a huge publicity campaign like say a Finding Nemo or Man of Steel, it simply started out as a normal movie opening at 43 locations across the United States and not some few thousand like modern times. Word of mouth spread very quickly as to how could this movie was.

It went, in the modern internet sense, viral and people very quickly became infected with just how good the movie was! And pictures like the above were the result. The rest is history as people loved the film and started queuing to see the film again and again. Word of mouth spread and the media picked up on the movie. Like Jaws, it literally became a blockbuster as seen by these pictures of people lining up around the block.

queue stat wars 1977

In 70mm reports that Star Wars was "An immediate sensation, "Star Wars" (which TIME Magazine proclaimed "The Year's Best Movie" only five months into the year) accumulated incredible per-screen averages and broke numerous box office and attendance records at the few locations lucky enough to have been playing the movie. The film industry was abuzz, and exhibitors everywhere couldn't wait to get their hands on a print. The film's distributor, 20th Century-Fox, had the lab cranking out prints as fast as they could as they accelerated their plans for a broad, nationwide release of the film."

Eventually, the film was shown at over 1000 film theatres across the States and became the greatest box office hit in history, beating Jaws that came two years before in 1975.

lining up to see star wars

Who is Joe Johnston and why is he so important to Star Wars?

Joe Johnston Star Wars

Whadda ya know, Joe?

Joe Johnston is fairly famous in Hollywood circles as a director of some pretty big movies. Jumanji. The Rocketeer. Jurassic Park III and a small film called Captain America: The First Avenger. 

Before all of that, Johnston actually made his name as an effects artist hired by George Lucas to work on the Star Wars films.

Here's some key points:
  • While Ralph McQuarrie is known as the concept artist, it was Johnston that designed many of the space ships. 
  • Boba Fett fans love Joe because he played a large part in the design look of Empire’s most popular bounty hunter. He also was influential on the design of Yoda.
  • As an effects artist and art director he made his mark and Lucas made sure to keep him around him – so much so that Lucas gave him the job of Art Director for Indianna Jones for which he won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
  • Johnston in some form or another worked with Lucas and Steven Spielberg for much of the 1980s before he made the leap from Art Director to simply being a director for Honey, I shrunk the Kids.
  • A final piece of triva is that Joe appeared as an Imperial Gunner and Storm Trooper in A New Hope. 

Who is Aayla Secura from the prequels?

Ayala Secura in Revenge of the Sith
Look behind you love...

Which actress played Aayla Secura in Star Wars prequels?

As usual, we are going to play the sex sells card on this one as it seems the only reason people visit In a far away galaxy is to look for pictures of Princess Leia in a certain slave bikini. Or Oola.

Aayala Secura - she's become a bit of a fan favourite with those who actually enjoy the Star Wars prequels (you could call these people the silent majority if you will). So who is she, what makes the blue Twi'lek tick and who plays her in the movies?

Let's start with her official bio from Star Wars website:

'With an athletic build, an exotic beauty, and blue skin, Aayla Secura stood out among the many faces of the Jedi ranks. A cunning warrior and Jedi Knight during the rise of the Clone Wars, Aayla fought alongside Clone Commander Bly on many exotic battlefields. Having mastered the emotional detachment necessary in the Jedi Order, she always tried to pass on what she had learned to others.'

Which is nice and all but most fans first met Aayla in Attack of the Clones.

So did George Lucas create this Jedi?

No, he did not. Aayla Secura was first brought into the Star Wars saga by Dark Horse Comics as part of the expanded Star Wars universe. George Lucas took a liking to the character and decided to use her and she was added to the script of Attack of the Clones near the end of the writing process.

I heard she died. Is this true?

Yes, she died in the events of Order 66 on Felucia where her Clones turned on her and shot her from behind. You can catch this in Revenge of the Sith.

Who played Aayla Secura?

Amy Allen played Aayala Secura
Amy Allen played Aayala in Clones and Sith 

Amy Allen played the character. Amy was part of the production crew for many films and wound up work at Lucasfilm. This work was parlayed into playing an extra in The Phantom Menace as a Twi-lek. Come time for someone to play this new character in Attack of the Clones, Amy was called on.

Amy Allen also appears in three different guises during the Outlander Club sequence in Attack of the Clones. She was filmed during principal photography standing near the video screens in one outfit, and digitally cloned by ILM to appear in two different places at the same time. These 'two' characters were later identified as twins Mya and Yma Nalle. 

During later pickup shots Amy appeared behind Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen as they discuss the changeling, wearing a hat and thick braids. This patron was later named Lela Mayn.

Just goes to show it's all about who you know in Hollywood.

Is Aayala the sexiest twi-lek to have appeared in a Star Wars movie?

Well some might argue that Oola is...

Fans love Aayala and the best way to show Star Wars love is to do cosplay!

Aayla Secura cosplay star wars

Aayla Secura cosplay babe

The ten best pieces of Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars concept art

vader fights luke concept art

Ralph McQuarrie Star Wars concept art

When George Lucas was thinking about and writing his early version of The Star Wars he would put his ideas down onto a yellow legal pad with a pencil.

While his stories were amazing, he needed to be able to show people how his film The Star Wars could look.

He engaged the services of an artist called Ralph McQuarrie and the rest is history.

Ralph took George's ideas and concepts and turned the words into the world that became Star Wars. Ralph did the robots, the villains, the landscapes and the heroes.

His drawings lead to so many iconic things being in Star Wars and thus his influence on the world is very marked.

Sadly McQuarrie died some years ago but we can celebrate his work by examining the top ten pieces of concept art he drew for Lucas.

c3po early concept design

This early draft picture of C3PO and R2D2 is perhaps the most significant work that Ralph did as it set the standard for everything else.

Lucas wanted the story to be told from the point of two robots (he was inspired by the bumbling duo in The Hidden Fortress) and after some experimenting with robot design, this was one of the images that Lucas took with him when he met studio executives as he pitched his film.

For C3PO, McQuarrie had pretty clear direction from George as to his design:

"Back when I was doing the initial concept artwork for Star Wars, George had photographs of the Metropolis robot, which he said he'd like C-3P0 to look like, except that I should make it a boy”.

original design of the Millennium Falcon

This is an early design of the Millennium Falcon, the cockpit and 'style' of the ship made it to the final design (which legend has it was based on a suggestion from Lucas that it resemble a pickle stuck to a bun).

The Falcon has become one of the most iconic ships in the Star Wars franchise - it's up there with the Death Star and Luke flying around in his X-Wing.

luke starkiller mos eisley concept drawing

This is Luke Starkiller looking over Mos Eisley as he was known at the time of drawing.  Note the speed racer, C3PO and most importantly two suns floating in the sky.

The two suns went on to famously feature in one of the most iconic Star Wars moments when Luke stared into them:

luke starring at two suns

The Death Star was destroyed by Luke's torpedoes in A New Hope.

Jedi originally was intended to repeat the formula with not one but two Death Star's being built above a plant called Had Abbadon. Here's what Ralph came up with as the conceptual design:

death star stations over had abbadon

Chewbacca is the furriest of all the warriors in Star Wars. His original designs by McQuarrie were not quite the final product you can see in the move but Star Wars Rebels fans will be pleased to note these early designs have been used for the character known as Zeb.

original concept designs of chewbacca

Here's an early concept of Han Solo about to be brought asunder by the bounty hunter Greedo. Check out C3PO and R2D2 to the left, an early design of a Storm Trooper and something that looks like an owl! Oh and Greedo had a tail.... This character actually appeared briefly in The Force Awakens - look for it at Maz Kanata's castle.

greedo han solo concept art design

A Jedi to be getting his training by Master Yoda in the swamps of  Degobah.

luke and yoda training concept artwork

Is there any thing less iconic in Star Wars than Luke Skywalker taking on the Empire all by himself down the trench run while Vader is taking pot shots at his X-Wing? No. There is not and McQuarrie's influence cannot be denied. The final look of the trench was more detailed but there is no denying that the X-Wing looks pretty damn cool:

trench run concept design star wars

If The Empire Strikes Back is considered one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made, then it was Ralph's design work for the battle of Hoth that helped made it so awesome. Here's Luke contemplating his navel after his snow speeder crashed on the icy tundra.

luke crash empire concept art

mquarrie rebel base ice caves

This giant space tit joke has lasted the ages, but you'll have to agree, Empire looked awesome.

space nipple gun from empire concept art

So these are just ten of McQuarrie's great designs for Stars Wars, there's plenty of awesomeness to be found, heck we didn't even cover Luke and Vader duelling in Cloud City:

luke faces vader in Empire drawings
No, I am your father!

11 R2D2 & C3PO facts and trivia

May 22, 2019

Trivia about C3PO and R2D2

The droids everyone are looking for are the odd couple of the Star Wars franchise.

One's a cheeky astromech, the other a golden protocol droid whose a stickler for the rules.

R2D2 and C3PO have been there from day one since they were given some secret plans by Princess Leia with a mission to get them to Obi Wan Kenobi -  in fact they were around when Anakin Skywalker was an idealistic cherub who was into pod racing.

This is to say these androids have had many adventures and given viewers many laughs!

Here's some cool facts and trivia about them, the actors that fit into the tin suits and how they came to be the most heroic robots in the galaxy.
  • George Lucas took a lot of his inspiration from a film called The Hidden Fortress. It featured a pair of bickering sidekicks who served as comic relief and crucially managed to help keep the plot ticking along. Lucas adopted this concept and applied it to the robots. This is quite amusing as it appears in real life that Kenny Baker and R2D2 didn't get on too well - it's well documented that Daniels has been quite vocal about Baker's attitude.
  • Anthony Daniels, who voiced C3P0 and climbed into the tin suit, is the only actor to appear in all 9 Star Wars trilogy films - you may also count The Clone Wars animated film and Rogue One apperances too! 
  • Kenny Baker did not actually film anything for Revenge of the Sith, his parts were a mix of CGI and footage recycled from Attack of the Clones.
  • C3PO's most famous quote is perhaps "I suggest a new strategy, Artoo: let the Wookie win." which pretty much speaks for itself! As a side note, that game between Chewbacca and R2D2 was never finished. When Finn bumps the table in The Force Awakens, it's the same game of Dejarik from A New Hope! That game is also referenced in the Han Solo film. 
  • A lot of people miss it, thinking the C3PO is totally golden but his right knee down is silver. In The Force Awakens, he had a red arm for most of the film. 
  • R2 stands at 96cm tall. 
  • Ralph McQuarrie designed C3PO by taking liberty with the Maschinenmensch the film Metropolis:

  • R2D2 was infamously given the ability to fly in the prequel films which bugged many fans (despite the fun he had on screen). This was rather roughly explained in other fiction that after the Clone Wars the company responsible for the development of his boosters went out of business. When his rocket boosters were damaged they were unable to be repaired.
  • R2D2 and C3PO were snuck into a scene in Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark as well as JJ Abrams' two Star Trek films.
  • The characters were so popular they had their own animated television series for a short time and once appeared in episodes of The Muppets and Sesame Street where R2 oddly appeared to fall in love with a fire hydrant!
  • R2D2 served several masters - starting with Padme, Anakin, Bail Organa, Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker and for a time, Jabba the Hutt... In the expanded universe R2 accompanies the decendants of Skywalker on many adventures.
  • The two robots are the subject of Obi Wan's most famous quote, "These aren't the droids you're looking for". This line has became a common phrase used to indicate that the issue or matter being discussed is not relevant, often said with a knowing wave of the hand...
  • When Obi-Wan finds General Grievous on the planet Utapau, his first words are, "Hello, there." This is exactly what said when he first met R2-D2 in ANH. It's now a famous internet meme...
  • Here's some early concept art which focuses on the Cantina scene in A New Hope. Check out  the design of our robots to the left and that green guy in the middle is Gredo, the guy who shot second:

Did you think this was a good list? Here's 101 facts about Star Wars!

How the Wizard of Oz inspired the story of A New Hope

May 19, 2019

You’ve surely heard of the Wizard of Oz? 

Many people know it as the FAMOUS OLD MOVIE starring Judy Garland as Dorothy and a dog called Toto. 

It was of course originally a book that took the world by storm in 1900 when it was published and it grew into a publishing empire for author Frank L Baum.

For a book to become a smash hit in 1900 and the years later, it must have been a pretty magical tale.

It was 39 odd years later when the Hollywood movie was released. It was a popular movie at the time but it came into its own as the years went by due to repeated showings on American TV and it became a cultural touch stone where even 60 years later, the movie was remade by Tim Burton and Wicked is a hugely popular broad way musical.

And even George Lucas managed to get caught up in the magic of the movie. 

It was noted film critic Roger Ebert who quickly noticed how Lucas had perhaps drawn inspiration from the 1939 film when he write in his 1977 review of what as then still called Star Wars:

"Star Wars" is a fairy tale, a fantasy, a legend, finding its roots in some of our most popular fictions. The golden robot, lion-faced space pilot, and insecure little computer on wheels must have been suggested by the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz." 

Let's begin with Luke Skywalker. 

If we posit the equation that 'Luke = Dorothy', we can begin to unlock some of the parallels between the two characters.
  • Both Luke and Dorothy live with their aunt and uncle on a farm
  • They both are looking for something more. Luke wants to go to the Academy to fly things and likes to stare into the Binary Sunset and ponder such things. Dorothy states her deal when she sings Somewhere over the rainbow.
  • They each have complementary farm hands. Hunk, Zeke, and Hickory for Oz and C–3PO and R2-D2 respectively.
  • Each has their world turn upside down. Dorothy's is literally thrown around by a tornardo, and Luke's by the Vader's stormtroopers murdering his family (which was actually a call out to John Wayne's The Searchers).
The two characters also become surrounded by familiar companions.
  • Chewbacca steps in for the Cowardly Lion
  • C–3PO steps in for The Tin Man (and both enjoy some oil for their joints early in each film)
  • R2-D2 steps in for Toto. Both don't speak English and one could argue that R-TWO D TWO is a play on TO TO. 

It is very important to bear in mind that the duo of R2 and C3PO were directly inspired by characters from The Hidden Fortress, so don't think Lucas is wholly copying from Oz.

George Lucas has previously said that he took facets of Luke’s personality and made them into characters, and that that’s how he came up with Luke’s friends and companions. And that's pretty much what happen in Oz. 

An amusing parallel is that when Darth Vader kills Obi-Wan Kenobi, only Kenobi's robes remain as his body has disappeared into the Force. When Dorothy accidentally kills the Wicked Which of the West, only her robes too remain after the water is thrown on her. In each case, both scenes have become very famous film moments.

At the end of the day Luke and Dorothy have both had a life changing adventure. the difference being that Luke's family is still dead and while Dorothy bested the Witch and outed the Wizard, the Empire lives on. 

I should be at pains to point out that Lucas has not taken point from point from the Wizard of Oz to write his script. He actually took hundreds of elements from books and film and real world issues and turned them into his own unique fairy tale, and arguably gone that had an even bigger impact on film than Baum's first book did on literature. 

Indeed Lucas said with almost a sense of annoyance about the matter:

‘Oh, he just took The Wizard of Oz and turned it inside out.’ But if you look at those two movies, they are totally different ideas. I mean, you can see certain similarities between almost any two movies. But coming up with a basic idea and developing it and making it work is very difficult and not to be underestimated.”

So let's give him a fair due on that point.

But don't be fooled, in Return of the Jedi, Lucas did a fabulous homage to this scene:

Can you pick what this is going to be?

Recall that R2D2 and C3PO are inspired by OZ and you get:

wizard of oz reference in return of the jedi

Like Dorothy and her new friends went off to the Wizard's Emerald City, C3PO and his little buddy R2 headed off to Jabba's Palace, each party not really knowing what their fates would be.

There's an amusing story relating to production era of The Force Awakens.

At one stage Carrie Fisher had not read the film’s script but was desperate too. She tried to bribe costume designer Michael Kaplan to divulge details with a chance to see the red shoes from the Wizard of Oz that Fisher’s mother owned. Kaplan while tempted, he kept his mouth shut and never saw the shoes.

We suspect this might have been a cheeky tale from Fisher because Reynolds apparently sold the shoes in 2011 well before TFA script was written!

For a more expert consideration on OZ's influence on Star Wars check out:

The best low budget Star Wars costumes ever

budget star wars costumes

Sometimes you just don't have money or resources to come up with the best ever Star Wars cosplay outfits and you just make do with what you have.

Sometimes you've got to come in on budget or the Emperor will simply not be pleased....

Here's some costumes that had a bit more effort put into them.

Should we care who Rey's parents REALLY are?

May 15, 2019
who are rey's parents

The Force Awakens introduced us to Rey and she told us she had a 'big secret' about where she was from and who her parents where. 

She'd lived on Jakku waiting for years in vain for their return. 

The Force flash-back showed her with Ankar Plutt holding her back as a ship took off from Jakku, with apparently her parents inside. 

The Force Awakens set this up big time, it even included a flash back to young Rey seeing her parents leave Jakku.  

And then the questions began.

Was she a Solo?

A Kenobi?

A relative of Padme from Naboo?

Luke's offspring?

Well Kylo Ren gave Rey an answer in The Last Jedi which rejected pretty much every fan theory there was. 

As Kylo is doing his emo best to gaslight Rey, he told her that he knew her parents were simply junk traders who sold her off for drinking money and now lay dead in a pauper’s grave on Jakku.

Rey seemed to agree.

This scene was intended to crush Rey's spirit and help make up her mind to join Kylo as he takes over The First Order, because his 8 pack ab set was clearly not compelling enough.

It's also intended to play into the thematic narrative of The Last Jedi that one doesn't need to be a Skywalker or from 'noble' heritage to be a world changer. 

Greatness can come from anywhere. 

Even slaves. 

Even the child of two drunks. 

So scriptwriter Rian Johnson is telling us to let the past go or as Kylo said, "kill it if you have to" (not that he clearly could when he saw Luke turn up on Crait). 

That's if we take the story at face value though. 

Anakin Skywalker was actually The Chosen One. His being a slave had nothing to do with him. Greatness was apparently Forced on him. 

Can we trust what Ren told Rey?

If Rey's family are dead in a grave on Jakku, why did Rey never learn about this when she was on the plant. Sure, it's a big planet but if they returned to Jakku one would imagine they would return somewhere close to homebase? 

It's Star Wars right. 

How did Ren know they were in a grave. Did he use the Force to sense it? 

As a viewer, when he told Rey what he knew, I could not believe him because of the context he was saying it in. He was trying to break Rey and get her to join the dark side, a place where the truth is not often told. 

One suspects though, Rian has set the path for Rey now and that whatever ever happens in Episode IV, she will be doing it without any help from her parents. 

Still, she's got that first experience with Luke as a Force ghost in The Rise of Skywalker to look forward to!


The real mystery that will never be answered is whether Ray tested her water with a ph Meter on Jakku.

How many times does Leia kiss Luke and Han in Star Wars?

May 7, 2019
What number of times do Han and Leia kiss?
I know.

How many times does Leia kiss Luke and Han in Star Wars?

You might think this is an odd question to ask but there's a famous kiss in The Empire Strikes Back between Leia and Luke where Leia tries to make Han jealous or envious.

Luke seems to love it...

The revelation that Leia is Luke's sister in Return of the Jedi makes that kiss seem kinda gross but hey, since we are thinking about the issue, let's count the kisses!

A New Hope

Two kisses for Luke - one for luck when they cross over the ravine trench by rope, and one when Luke returns from have successfully blown up the Death Star. The third is again for luck before he leaves to attack the Death Star.

for luck kiss gif

No kissy kissy for Han Solo.

The Empire Strikes Back

han solo kisses princess leia

Bear in mind the conversation Luke and Han have after they escape from the Death Star in ANH - Luke sways Han away from thinking that Han could ever have a relationship with her as he appears to like her himself...

Two for Luke - Han, and Leia are squabbling in Luke's recovery room and to make a point she gives Luke a quite passionate kiss - one that makes Luke feel pretty happy with himself and one that makes Han jealous:

luke and leia kiss star wars empire strikes

After Luke is safely on the Falcon after he has just fought Darth Vader, she gives him a sweet kiss of affection as he lies in the sick bay.

Han and Leia do kiss passionately for the first time on board the Falcon after they escape the attack on Hoth base. Han also gets a further two kisses from Leia, the famous one being just as he tells her "I know":

i know kiss empire

Return of the Jedi 

return of the jedi kiss

Han gets a kiss when Leia frees him from the carbonite block at Jabba's Palace and two more when they reunite at the Ewok village. He gets another two when Leia lets him know she's Luke's brother.

That means Leia kisses Han five times in Jedi.

The Force Awakens

Han and Leia do not kiss but that embrace lovingly.

So the final tally is Leia gives her brother Luke 4 kisses and Han Solo got 8.

Watch the kissing here:

But if the question is how many times is Han Solo kissed in Star Wars, you have to add the one that Qi'ra gave him in the Solo prequel movie which makes it 9.

Let's not also forget the famous poster for The Empire Strikes Back which was modeled on Gone With the Wind:

gone with the wind poster comparison to empire strikes back

↠ 10 rare facts about Darth Vader

May 6, 2019
darth vader concept art

10 things you may not know about Darth Vader, the most tragic figure in Star Wars

  1. Darth Vader has only 8 minutes of screen time! Even Hannibal Lecter had more! 
  2. Vader’s famous heaving breathing sounds were recorded by Ben Burt whilst he breathed into an aqualung.
  3. In the original drafts of Star Wars, Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker were definitely different people - it wasn’t until the development of the Empire treatment that the two were combined as one character. People still argue to this day that Lucas always knew Vader was Luke's father!
  4. During the finale of Return of the Jedi have a careful listen when Darth Vader picks up the Emperor and throws him down the Death Star shaft. This is the only occasion when you’ll hear Jedi theme music playing when Vader is on screen. This reflects his return to the light side of the Force.
  5. Vader's costume was somewhat inspired by the Nazi Regime's look.
  6. Despite his reputation for killing many people and being one of the biggest bad asses in the galaxy, Vader had the most limbs severed from his person in the film series!
  7. James Earl Jones was the voice of Vader but fans probably didn’t know that during the original screenings of the film as his name wasn’t included in the credits as it is today. This is apparently because he didn’t want his name to be associated with a film that he thought was going to be a flop.
  8. Lord Vader’s famous leitmotif theme music is known as The Imperial March and was not introduced until Empire Strikes Back. 
  9. The famous reveal of the father and son relationship between Vader and Luke is often misquoted as "Luke, I am your father". The line is actually "No, I am your father". It's kind of like how Star Trek's Captain Kirk never actually said: "Beam me up, Scotty".
  10. While Return of the Jedi saw Luke return the favour to Vader and cut his arm off, the idea for it actually came from the expanded universe novel, ‘Splinter of the Mind's Eye’.
  11. Ben Burt produced Vader's breathing sound effect by placing a microphone inside the mouthpiece of a breathing apparatus and recording it being used by a human.
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