Saturday, August 17, 2013

Star Wars: The First Mention


One of the fun parts of reading these old issues of Starlog is finding the first mentions of things that went on to be really big deals. The best example of this is Star Wars. It is first mentioned in Starlog in Issue 2 (November 1976), here is the article:

Twentieth Century-Fox is currently completing the filming of their latest science fiction blockbuster, Star Wars. Without any parts of he film even previewed yet, some critics have already heralded Star Wars as, "... everything in science fiction you've always wanted to see on the screen but knew no one would ever put there."

Star Wars is written and directed by George Lucas, the man responsible for THX 1138 and American Graffiti. Producer Gary Kurtz, working with an $8,000,000 budget, has taken Star Wars on location to both Tunisia and London.

Star Wars is about a galaxy-wide civil war set in the distant future when Earth and its past have been entirely forgotten. Sir Alec Guinness plays an old renegade who was a great general in the first Galactic Wars. Mark Hamill plays the film's starring role, Luke Starkiller young adventurer.

Stuart Freeman, the man who designed the spectacular ape costumes for 2001: A Space Odyssey, has created several alien designs and makeups for Star Wars ' large cast. In addition to its basic science-fiction format, Star Wars will also contain elements of fantasy.

Star Wars reportedly won't be ready for release until early 1977, but for those of you who can't wait that long to find out more, Ballantine Books plans to put out a novelization of the movie in bookstores sometime this fall.

Note that there are a couple errors in this article. First, we know Star Wars was set “A Long Time Ago”, not in the future. Next they got Mark Hamill’s character name wrong, although Starkiller was the name used in early drafts of the film. Finally makeup was done by Stuart Freeborn, not Freeman.

In the previous issues there were similar articles about The Man Who Fell to Earth (“..has been gathering rave reviews from all its pre-release showings”), Logan’s Run (“Producer Saul David promises he will deliver an SF extravaganza…”), and Meteor (“… what promises to be a not-to-be-missed special-effect feast..”). Anyone reading these articles at that time would have no reason to think Star Wars was going to be anything more special then these other movies, but we all know how that turned out.

The next mention of Star Wars was in Issue 3 (January 1977):

Twentieth Century-Pox has postponed release dates again for all three of its new sci-fi productions. Originally scheduled for early 1977, Star Wars is now slated for limited release in seventy millimeter format in ten key cities across the country next November, with general release to follow in December. One source did suggest a Memorial Day release. No one is making any promises, though.

The rumor about a November release was totally incorrect. Star Wars was scheduled for a April or May release for quite some time before this issue was published, although it did slip a little bit into it’s final May release date.

I searched through all the Starlog issues from 2 through 51 (I stopped at 51) and there is a mention of Star Wars in every issue with one exception which was ironically the May 1977 issue, the month Star Wars was released. Of course this issue would have been in the works and published long before the release of the movie, but it’s still and interesting piece of trivia. The first issue to provide post release coverage was issue 8 (September 1977).

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