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'REVENGE' OR 'RETURN' REDUX

 

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: With all the madness on display as ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ opens today (Friday, Dec. 18), I thought it might be fun to revisit the similar madness that was on display in 1983 leading up to the debut of ‘Return of the Jedi.’ Remember the ‘Revenge of the Jedi’ controversy? So here are excerpts from ‘Hicks on Flicks’ columns that ran in the Deseret News in 1982 and ’83.

Jan. 16, 1982: The second “Raiders” picture and the third “Star Wars” film are in the works. The latter, “Revenge of the Jedi,” the third of the nine-film “Star Wars” series, is shooting now and is scheduled for release in the summer of 1983.

And if you think that’s a long wait, the second “Raiders” film, simply titled “Raiders of the Lost Ark II” for now, won’t be completed and ready until the summer of 1984!

Harrison Ford again joins Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and everyone’s favorite robots for the “Jedi” picture, and will reprise his Indiana Jones role in the second “Raiders” flick. Steven Spielberg is supposed to direct the latter, with George Lucas again executive producer.

Dec. 31, 1982: So what’s coming for 1983, you ask? More of the same. Sequels and remakes, hits and bombs, Oscars and turkey awards, comedy and tragedy, and movies, movies, movies.

Probably the most eagerly awaited of them all is the windup of George Lucas’ first “Star Wars” trilogy (two trilogies to go), “Revenge of the Jedi.” With the original cast intact, it opens May 27.

Feb. 27, 1983: “Return of the Jedi” or “Revenge of the Jedi.”

Now, tell the truth. Would you have stayed away from the third in the “Star Wars” films if they’d left it “Revenge?” Of course not. So why the change to “Return,” especially after all the hype and hoopla about it that has accompanied the reissue of “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back” last year?

Don’t put it past a major movie company to just want to keep the hype going until the film opens May 25. I remember wondering why, when the long-awaited “Superman II” opened, the studio offered a junket for writers like me to fly to Niagara Falls and interview Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman and others in the film. Certainly, “Superman II” was going to be a monster hit anyway, without all that extra expense.

But Hollywood just loves hype. It might mean an extra $4.50 at the box office.

In the case of the “Star Wars” film, however, a new wrinkle has been added. That red poster you may have seen in theaters around town for “Revenge of the Jedi” has now become a collector’s item. According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, there were only 8,800 printed, and 6,800 of those went to the official Star Wars Fan Club to sell to members for $9.50 apiece.

The other 2,000 or so are considered so scarce now that collectors are buying them for as much as … are you ready? As much as $100 to $500 apiece.

Yikes!

We’d like to thank the Valley Fair 4 theater in Granger for allowing us to photograph the poster before it was taken down. And I’m sure it’s been taken down.

March 27, 1983: Following up on a previous column, you might be interested to know that according to Herb Caen in the San Francisco Chronicle, George Lucas heard about the “Revenge of the Jedi” posters becoming collectors items and selling for $150 to $600 apiece, and he’s ordered some 50,000 copies made to kill the black market incentive.

A local theater operator mused, however, that since print dates appear in the white border at the bottom of each poster, the second printing would probably just make the originals even more valuable.

Now if we could just get Lucas to autograph them. …

Oct. 23, 1983: Now that you’ve all seen “Return of the Jedi,” I can share with you what I consider the ultimate injustice to moviegoers who had been waiting eagerly for the film of the year to hit their local theater and wrap up all those loose ends left by “The Empire Strikes Back.” It occurred in USA Today, that national daily newspaper dispensed in the white news stands all over town.

A long, long time ago, and not very far away — last May, actually, before the opening of the film on the 25th — USA Today ran a story by David Patrick Stearns that gave a brief rundown of all the major plot twists in the film.

Now Stearns did have the common decency to say in the sixth paragraph: “ … but if you don’t want to know what happens in advance, stop here …” before listing all the film’s secrets. But not so the headline writer.

It was a brief, two-line, six-word headline, but in black, much-larger, type, it succinctly told it all:

Jumpin’ Jedi!

Darth’s a good guy?

Any question about how Vader would respond to Luke’s pleadings for him to leave the dark side of the force in the film’s climactic battle?