Dark Times 11 – 1996 – Part 5

John Williams summoned the heroes at the Centennial Olympic Games, but a nerf-herder, her worshipfulness and a kid almost finding himself floating home equally prepared for victory: Star Wars continues its return to pop culture in 1996.

Star Wars was an intricate anomaly. Despite its close ties to 70ies zeitgeist it had superseded the regular status of a classic. Every generation that chanced upon George Lucas’ space opera felt instantly attracted to this peculiar property that grew independently of time and the concomitant limited fads.

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Dark Times 11 – 1996 – Part 4

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Stallone must be in need of bringing the suffering to Daylight. Yet Star Wars aficionados were rescued by Ben Burtt in 1996. New instalment in the series on how Star Wars returned to pop culture.

Lucasfilm understood that a franchise was supposed to act as a companion to its followers and ensured that fans could constantly enjoy the invigorating sensation of discovery within the familiar universe of Star Wars.
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Dark Times 11 – 1996 – Part 3

While Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt were busy twisting box office receipts, a powerful new ally joined Lucasfilm in 1996: ‘Hmmm….powerful collector, he is.’

Every media has its fair share of legendary classics. They have in common a huge following regardless of time and age – and especially marketing muscle. For it is the consumer’s infatuation with a product that pencils popularity into the record books of the entertainment industry. The key to such voluntary commitment on the part of the public lies in deft, responsible management of franchise assets that ensures lively interest whilst planting the seeds for anticipation.

Lucasfilm had dedicated the latter half of the 90ies building a repertoire of product, strictly distanced from short-lived opportunism that throws all available content on the market in one senseless waste of potential. Star Wars was the only major motion picture property without new instalments in the near future and yet impressively went from strength to strength. To send this already stellar track record beyond the stars on the eve of the Star Wars Special Edition, Lucasfilm inducted a most versatile man into their fold. Trade paper Variety read on February 22nd, 1996: ‘Sweet Deal For Sansweet’.

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Dark Times 11 – 1996 – Part 2

If it hadn’t been for Sean Connery’s blasting everyone on Alcatraz in 1996, one’s ears might have been pleasantly tickled from across the Bay by Rick McCallum: ‘It’s gonna be awesome.’

The media was busy reporting on Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, which kept blasting box office records out of the sky. Variety’s Todd McCarthy noted adroitly how ‘it took a foreigner to create what could arguably be the most patriotic film since John Wayne rode into the sunset’ (Variety, Mon. July 1st, 1996). Hulking space ships racing in above the heads of speechless audiences…seen this before, we have.
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Dark Times 11 – 1996 – Part 1

Darkness envelopes capitals worldwide in vacuous black as landmarks ignite in a box office consuming blaze: making plans for August was not a good idea in 1996 – except for Lucasfilm, which was concocting its own significant Shadows…

As heavy drops of Time imbued the parchment of history in omniscient black ink in 1996, they recorded such events as the 30th anniversary of Super Bowl, William Wallace’s victory on the red-carpeted battlefields of the Shrine Auditorium, the cloning of sheep Dolly and Homer’s unwitting killing of Bill Clinton and presidential candidate Bob Dole. Time also skilfully shaped a turning point in the corporate history of Lucasfilm, whose future repercussions were subtly suggested by the tasteful ballet of ink strokes drying into eternity.
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Dark Times 10 – 1995 – Part 5

“Patience is bitter, but its fruits are sweet ” Edmund Burke once scraped onto a blank sheet of paper and may well have had the year 1995 in mind, the year Star Wars returned in full force.

The fine people of Lucasfilm had miraculously transformed an aged entertainment property into gleaming hot media content that formidably stood its ground in the battle for consumer loyalty. Like a resilient flower poking through dry ground in great defiance of the drought of motion picture history, Star Wars merchandise was gently but decidedly expanding.

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Dark Times 10 – 1995 – Part 4

Turbulent times in 1995: As Springfield was frenetically hunting the person who shot Mr. Burns, George Lucas was still wondering who should direct the next instalment in the Star Wars Saga…

Every mass-marketed product creates demand in other areas worth mining, especially with a franchise as mythically permeated as Star Wars, whose religious shadings form a most complex alliance with boldly designed technology. Countless questions as to the people, places, workings and underpinnings of the Saga would doubtlessly arise in the wake of the 1995 THX video release and Lucasfilm was well prepared to answer them all in most elaborate fashion.
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Dark Times 10 – 1995 – Part 3

Richard Gere is lancing a lot in 1995. Unimpressed, Vader steps down from the billboards and charges an old best friend: ‘We meet again, film camera. When we last met, I was but a learner. Now I am the master!’.

As ominous as the tag line “The Original – One Last Time” undoubtedly was, it actually promised very good tidings for the Star Wars community. The 1995 video release purposefully asserted that Lucasfilm would employ the new technology created by ILM to enhance the OT in time for the 20th anniversary of ANH.
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Dark Times 10 – 1995 – Part 2

As 1995 dawdles on, Sandra Bullock finds the WWW to be a veritable death trap, while mutant Kevin Costner gets ’em with his trusty catamaran. Yet what in the name of Yoda is Vader doing on gargantuan billboards?

Ten years after the beginning of the Dark Times, Lucasfilm had long since vacated its shadows to bathe in the beautifully self-orchestrated market of 1995. On the one hand, there was keen and global interest to immerse oneself in every way imaginable in the world of the original saga. On the other, fantastic ramblings of a new set of Star Wars films pervaded the media – young Obi-Wan was then rumoured to be “created” by mapping the face of young Alec Guinness over an unknown actor according to British Sky One teletext – so that fandom and industry pundits alike were eager to be continuously filled in on the progress made over at the Ranch. Lucasfilm would now stalwartly address the needs of the people and the market they constituted.
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