The series continues with a look at the year 1987, when new Star Wars films were more distant than the edge of the galaxy.
The year is 1987: With George Lucas decidedly removed from a galaxy far, far away with projects ranging from Captain EO to Tucker: A Man and His Dream, the land of all matters Star Wars was arguably barren.
At best, shiploads of the ever popular “Imperial Dignitary” action figure were eagerly awaiting happy customers at the local toy store.
Yet despite such painful malaise, there were a few indications that – however miniscule and unlikely – Star Wars had not quite become one with the Force.
History will record that in between 1983 – 1987, the Ewoks were immensely popular. So much so, in fact, that Lucasfilm decided to release the TV movies Ewoks: Caravan of Courage and Ewoks: Battle for Endor theatrically in Europe. The media even ran cover stories: “The Ewoks are back!”, with television and radio stations interviewing people lining up to see the “next, big Ewok adventure”.
The marketing for Battle for Endor in particular was rather peculiar: the trailer started ominously with the Force theme playing gently over the Fox logo, which faded to a montage of clips from ANH, a thundering voice intoning: “In 1977, George Lucas gave you STAR WARS”. This continued in the same fashion until the ROTJ clips ended, at which point the narrator announced: “And now, Georg Lucas brings you the latest adventure: Battle for Endor!”
Indeed, Battle for Endor was almost treated like a veritable entry in the Star Wars saga proper.
Meanwhile in Anaheim, CA, the “creative forces of Disney and Lucas” united to give the world the first Star Wars themed ride: Star Tours. It marked the first time since the ROTJ that ILM weaved their magic in the world of Jedi and Sith.
It was also in 1987 that British software house DOMARK (today incorporated into Infogrames) licensed Atari’s famed STAR WARS arcade games based on the OT for home computers. On Christmas eve, millions were thus allowed to participate in the stunning attack on the Death Star in the first conversion of the series.
Finally, ROTJ was released on home video in the same year. With hindsight, one must therefore agree that however “dark” the times seemed, Star Wars managed to attract quite a healthy measure of media coverage.
From Ewoks, to thrillrides, computer games and home video: While no longer the cultural phenomenon Star Was used to be from 1977 until 1983, its fire continued to burn in the hearts of consumers from all four quadrants.