The Star Wars fanbase has experienced some rough years. Let’s not forget about the prequel era from 1999-2005 when the world was simultaneously introduced to Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan and Jar Jar Binks. Though many criticize this period as being one of Star Wars’ lowest, there’s an even older movie that George Lucas himself doesn’t want you to see.
A New Hope
Not long after A New Hope’s 1977 debut, the whole world knew the name Star Wars. George Lucas’s saga of a farm boy turned lightsaber-wielding Jedi — complete with jaw-dropping special effects and an epic sountrack — captivated all kinds of movie fans. Studio executives wanted more.
Filling The Void
But the sequel, “The Empire Strikes Back,” wouldn’t come out until 1980, and impatient fans were craving a new story from the same universe. So, the executives convinced George that some kind of special could fill this void perfectly.
Thus was born one movie that stands above the rest as the worst Star Wars-based project to ever exist: the Star Wars Holiday Special from November 17, 1978. Released a year after A New Hope, the special only aired once on CBS and now resides on YouTube — and for good reason.
In the movie, Han Solo and Chewbacca travel to the Wookiee planet, Kashyyyk, to celebrate Life Day. Because the evil Galactic Empire apparently had very little going on at the time, it tails our heroes on their space travels, attempting to ruin the celebration. From there, the story gets weirder.
Too Much Wookiee
Viewers complained that some of the most difficult scenes occurred between Chewbacca and his family — his dad, Itchy; wife, Malla; and son, Lumpy. They would only speak in their unintelligible Wookiee language for minutes at a time without any subtitles to translate. Wookie say what?
We’re All Here
Surprisingly, the entire original cast appeared in the special: Luke Skywalker, C-3P0, R2-D2, Darth Vader, and Princess Leia. Even with all the characters being portrayed by their famous actors wasn’t enough to bring life to the special, though some odd celebrity guest stars tried.
Disco singer Diahann Carroll performs as a seductive hologram for Itchy, which makes us extremely uncomfortable. We’re not sure why this had to be included. Regardless, she wasn’t the only unexpected presence.
Future Golden Girls star Bea Arthur popped up as a singing bartender when the group visits the Mos Eisley Cantina. Harvey Korman, best known for The Carol Burnett Show and Blazing Saddles, played a multitude of characters. Oh, and there was a musical guest.
To bring a psychedelic poppy flair, Jefferson Starship performed their song, “Light the Sky on Fire.” They were in a suitcase, which functioned as a virtual reality device. Star Wars fanatics were appalled. How, they wondered, had George let this happen?
It Wasn’t Me
George admits that he had a small role in bringing the project together, but wasn’t present for a majority of production. Still, in a 1999 interview, he surprised fans with his candid response about the Christmas special.
In 1999, George opened up to Empire magazine about being convinced by Fox Studios to greenlight the abomination. There’s a rumor he said, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.”
Awful In A Bad Way
Even the actors were critical of their roles. Harrison Ford was embarrassed to be seen in it. The witty Carrie Fisher had a great take too. She called it “awful, and I don’t mean awful in a good way.” She even made a special request of her own.
A Party Trick
Later, Carrie acquired a rare DVD of the special from George Lucas. “I did the voiceover for some of the Star Wars discs or whatever and I made it a condition that he would give me the Star Wars Christmas special so that I could…have something for parties … when I wanted everyone to leave,” she said.
We’re Forgetting It
Even Lucasfilm, George’s Star Wars-based production company, wanted to forget this flop. They refused to release the special on VHS or DVD. Anyone who missed the original airing had a tough time finding this rare movie. There was only one saving grace.
Of course, once YouTube was invented in the mid-2000s, the footage made its way online, entertaining and horrifying millions of curious Star Wars fans. It’s become a mild cult-classic, and fans love to hate-watch it. In fact, the film caught a modern filmmaker’s eye.
J.J. Abrams, who directed “The Force Awakens” (2015) and “The Rise of Skywalker” (2019) was interested in creating another Star Wars Christmas special. We’re so tired of this reboot movie culture, but he’s determined to make it happen.
“Maybe there’s a version that none of us could imagine that would be genius,” J.J. said. We’re sure fans are salivating at the chance to take another director to town over the franchise. Still, he might just get his wish.
This Isn’t A Drill
Though J.J. isn’t directing it, Disney+ is actually releasing another Star Wars holiday special. No, this isn’t a joke. They are truly trying to do it again on November 17, 2020 with the “LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special.” Fans are horrified by the details.
The plot is strikingly similar to the 1978 original. In the updated movie, LEGO versions of Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewie, Rose, R2-D2, and BB-8 (among others) travel back to Kashyyyk to enjoy a Life Day feast. There are other elements sure to enrage Wars fans.
Another part of the movie involves Rey traveling back through some of the most memorable moments in the Star Wars canon. We can hear fans preemptively demanding apologies. It wouldn’t be the first time George Lucas had to say sorry.
As the creator of the Star Wars universe, George Lucas established himself as the ultimate authority on every film, video game, and action figure in the franchise. Still, George proved to be a surprisingly polarizing figure.
Lucas drew criticism for his constant tinkering with the canon of his films. In A New Hope, he eyed Han’s introductory scene, where the smuggler shoots bounty hunter Greedo without provocation. Undermining his ruthlessness, George re-edited the scene in 1977 to make it appear that the bad guy was about to kill Han.
The filmmaker also gained a reputation for his overly convenient explanations of plot points. Infamously, he revealed in the prequels that the mysterious Force came down to whether an individual had microscopic Midi-chlorians in their body. It could be determined by a simple blood test!
But it wasn’t until 2019 that Lucas addressed arguably the biggest inconsistency in the entire series. It had to do with the treatment of Chewbacca, the heroic Wookiee who’s appeared in most of the films. Many thought George disrespected him.
Blowing Up the Death Star
Even the greenest Star Wars viewer would know that Chewbacca plays a key role in destroying the Death Star in the original film. Some might even say that he risked more than any other of the main characters.
After all, while Han and Luke Skywalker posed as Stormtroopers, Chewie endured getting paraded around as their prisoner. He put up with physical and verbal abuse for the sake of the mission and ended up getting the short end of the stick — or lightsaber.
The final scene presented the main heroes standing proudly at a rebel celebration. They each receive medals, which is a nice touch. But upon closer inspection, fans were horrified to notice that Chewbacca didn’t get one!
How Could This Be?
How could George Lucas and his team be so cruel? Warsies pointed out that Chewbacca was a favorite character. It wasn’t like he was Jar Jar Binks, whom everyone was grateful to see moved out of the main storyline.
There is also the fact that Chewie was a very personal character for George. His dog Indiana provided the initial spark of inspiration for the character, so it seemed strange that the creator would shove him aside.
Original Chewie actor Peter Mayhew met tons of sci-fi buffs outraged by this slight, but he had a pretty reasonable take on the matter. He theorized that because Carrie Fisher wasn’t tall enough to place a medal around his neck, they just skipped him.
After all, the first Star Wars installment had a relatively low $11 million budget. Relying on practical effects for space sequences and the famous opening crawl, producers very well could have saved a few bucks by not buying Chewbacca a medal.
The Chief’s Explanation
However, Lucas rarely admitted that any story detail came down to production finances. He instead suggested that a cultural ideology propelled their decision to not have Chewbacca wear a medal. This explanation really divided fans.
“Medals Don’t Really Mean Much”
The filmmaker explained, “Chewbacca wasn’t given a medal because medals don’t really mean much to Wookiees. They don’t really put too much credence in them.” He went on to assure viewers that the Wookiees held their own offscreen celebration shortly afterward.
A Marvel comic book, simply titled Chewbacca, sort of corroborated Lucas’ reasoning. Its story had the Wookiee adventuring and bonding with a girl named Zarro. At one point, he gave her a shiny rebellion medal, and Chewie certainly didn’t seem too attached to it.
With Star Wars devotees being such a passionate bunch, George’s official explanation didn’t exactly end the great Chewbacca-medal debate. A few people have gone really out of their way to correct this injustice.
For one thing, a number of convention attendees recreated the scene to include the Wookiee receiving his gleaming reward. But they weren’t the only ones to do so. Big-name talents also stepped up in this regard.
Lifetime Achievement Award
At the 1997 MTV Movie Awards, Chewbacca received a Lifetime Achievement Award. That was cool enough, but the crowd went nuts when none other than Carrie Fisher presented it to him — in the form of a huge gold medallion, no less.
With the latest batch of Star Wars films, the galaxy far, far away is at peak popularity. Fans want nothing more than to throw themselves right into the story alongside their favorite heroes and villains. Thanks to Disney, that fantasy will soon be a reality.
In 2015, Disney announced plans for a Star Wars theme park. Versions would open in both Orlando and Anaheim locations, featuring an unprecedented level of immersion. That’s what the entertainment giant claimed, anyway.
They were so tight-lipped on the exact details of experience for the next couple years you’d think they were guarding the actual Death Star plans. Once concept art and ride descriptions started to emerge, however, this idea seemed like it could really take off.
Disney Imagineer Scott Trowbridge, the supervisor of the project, shared that the park would be called Galaxy’s Edge. It would introduce a completely original Star Wars setting: Black Spire Outpost.
Anticipation soared as construction on the 14-acre site got underway. There was a lot to do before the park’s August 2019 opening, but even then, some Star Wars nerds couldn’t wait. They demanded a sneak peek.
Disney obliged, releasing more concept art and behind-the-scenes photos of full-scale Imperial AT-AT walkers. A few fans, however, couldn’t help but get a closer look. There were fences all over the perimeter of the site, but maybe that wouldn’t be a problem.
One Twitter user took his drone out for a spin and snapped photos of the sprawling Disney complex. Though the images very much showed a work in progress, Galaxy’s Edge already had enough intricacies built in to confirm rumors about the park.
For instance, even the most casual Star Wars watcher will recognize the Millennium Falcon parked in a spaceport. The ship isn’t just there for show, apparently. It serves as the centerpiece for one of the park’s main rides.
The interactive journey will make visitors feel like they’re right in the middle of their favorite movie moments. They will be tasked with flying the Falcon on a simulated mission, in which the ship will directly respond to their performance.
If enemy vessels shoot them up, for instance, the Falcon’s painstakingly detailed interior will appear battered at the conclusion of the ride. The high-tech experience also puts fans face-to-face with intergalactic creatures.
While waiting to board the Millennium Falcon, riders will meet Hondo Ohnaka — or at least a robotic version of him. The alien pirate is the second-most complicated animatronic Disney’s ever developed, after Avatar’s Shaman of Songs.
Photos alone can’t sum up the full rush of the Falcon ride. Based on the range of aerial shots, that’s not the only attraction that has fans chomping at the bit either.
Disney claimed they designed the park sightlines to prevent visitors from seeing anything from the real world. They’re also making good on that promise by filling the space with Star Wars goodies. Take a look at this hanger, for starters.
This space, plus many others, will feature life-size ships that blend in seamlessly for the environment. If there is an X-Wing Fighter, for instance, Disney employees dressed as members of The Resistance will emerge periodically and perform “maintenance.”
Like any other Disney site, guests won’t go home hungry. The flagship of their Star Wars hospitality will be Oga’s Cantina. This restaurant will show off the weird aliens and funky music that made fans fall in love with the original film.
Naturally, the Cantina boasts an impressive menu of galactic fare. In a rare move for Disney, they’re offering alcoholic beverages in the form of deep-space cocktails. No visit will be complete without a refreshing Carbon Freeze or Jabba Juice.
Disney has also assured shoppers that they will not leave disappointed. Black Spire Outpost, as isolated in the galaxy as it is, contains stores like the droid depot. Guests can buy their own robots, which will interact with the park around them!
These photos, both official and leaked, escalated fan excitement to an all-time high. It’s quite possible that the popularity of this theme park could overshadow that of any of the actual films.
Because Galaxy’s Edge is a living, breathing experience, Scott and the other Imagineers can continually improve upon their work. Just like our galaxy, this theme park will just keep expanding.
In fact, the biggest source of entertainment in the Star Wars park might be the visitors’ interaction with characters. They’ll likely take a cue from the Disneyland stormtroopers, who are trained to march in formation behind any kids dressed as Darth Vader or Kylo Ren.