Western Courier

Star Wars returns

Tim Murphy

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Twenty years ago in theaters across the country, a generation experienced “Star Wars” for the first time. Even creator George Lucas couldn’t fathom the stratospheric success of the space fantasy melodrama.Lucas was in Los Angeles overseeing the sound mix on one of the foreign versions of the film when he saw what looked like a mob scene at Grauman Chinese Theatre. One lane of traffic was closed off and there were lines eight or nine people wide going both ways and around the block, according to Lucas. Not knowing what all the hype was for, he looked up at the marquee that read “Star Wars.”

Now, after two equally successful sequels and a gigantic galaxy of merchandising, marquees will read “Star Wars” once again as the 20th anniversary special edition opens in theaters today.

WIU senior Rich Appenzeller, who describes himself as a crazy and obsessive “Star Wars” fan, is driving all the way to the Chicago suburbs to watch the opening since Macomb theaters don’t have the sci-fi classic yet.

Despite his excitement for the rerelease, Appenzeller has some qualms about the new footage and special effects added to the 20th Century Fox film.

“I think it will make a lot of money, but personally I think he should have left it alone instead of putting in all the new special effects,” Appenzeller said. “They are going to take away from the original movie.”

The highlight of the 4 1/2 minutes worth of new visuals is an appearance by the obese-looking Jabba, originally first seen in “Return of the Jedi.” Lucas intended to include the creature in “Star Wars” but lack of funds left footage of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) talking to a human version of Jabba on the cutting room floor.

Twenty years later, technology allowed Industrial Light & Magic to digitally add a younger and slimmer version of Jabba into the original footage.

In addition to new scenes, the special edition also brings a plethora of new merchandising which totals over $4 billion worth since 1977. Kenner, who made the original line of “Star Wars” figures, is once again producing toys for a new generation. However, according to an employees at Macomb Wal-Mart, college age students account for a large portion of the sales.

At Randolph House, on the Macomb Square, they are having trouble keeping the shelves full of the original line of toys, according to employee Larry Aschinger.

“We have people driving a good distance to come to us. The other day we had somebody come down from Quincy who couldn’t find some of the old pieces,” Aschinger said. “There has definetly been a lot more interest in ‘Star Wars’ lately.”

According to Appenzeller, interest in “Star Wars” will probably last awhile with the rerelease of the trilogy and a new movie scheduled to be released before the year 2000.

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Star Wars returns