Herc: EPISODE I made I think $430 million domestically and I think the second one made about $120 million less. And George Lucas has said, “Oh, well, y’know, EPISODE III is going to be the least attended. Nobody’s going to be interested. There’s so much darkness in the third episode.” I just want to get everybody’s guess as to what the grosses for EPISODE III are going to be.
Quint: That’s an interesting question because I’ve been using that question as a way to prove that I’m right about all the prequels sucking. Comparing them to something like LORD OF THE RINGS which each movie has out-grossed the film before it. And each prequel has made so much less than the film before it.
Herc: I just want to point out that I just asked for a number.
Quint: In other words, I’m not sure because I think it will probably be higher than EPISODE II if only because it’s taking people like me who have been burned by the first two movies and giving me hope again.
Herc: Just throw a number out.
Quint: I think it’ll make a little more than EPISODE II because of the love for the original trilogy.
Frosty: Over 300 million. It’ll make more than II and it could make more than I if it’s really good.
Myxtplyk: Less than I. More than II.
Andre Dellamorte: I think EPISODE I benefited from people seeing it in the way they saw the original trilogy. Which is why it did 420. I think the third film will do about what the second film did. I think the same people who saw it multiple times will see this one multiple times. But PHANTOM MENACE was helped by the hype. These other two are just 300 million dollar films.
Kraken: Domestically, 354 million. World wide, 820.
Obi-Swan: It’s probably going to beat ATTACK OF THE CLONES by about 5 to 10 million. I agree with what Andre said. The fans who were still there for CLONES will be there for this one. There’s going to be a little more business due to the nostalgia, but...
Kraken: EPISODE I was the first chance to see a STAR WARS movie in twenty years. EPISODE III will be the last chance to see a STAR WARS movie ever.
Herc: Last I heard, Sara said EPISODE III was going to be the biggest STAR WARS movie of all time... that it will out-gross all the other movies.
Sara S: I said that, but I actually do think it’ll make almost 400, and I’m going to tell you why. I’ve got photographic evidence right here. When the DVDs came out, if you went to MovieFone, their top requested release date was EPISODE III. And even this past weekend, I took this picture will driving down the 101, it’s the billboard that drives around and tells you what the most requested film of the day is. And this is the day that THE INCREDIBLES came out. EPISODE III was the most requested movie on MovieFone.
Mr. Beaks: Today’s most requested Yahoo! search? Tara Reid. So, I assume ALONE IN THE DARK takes in, domestic, 250 million. Uwe Boll, welcome to mogul status. EPISODE III will do 220 million.
Jed the Hutt: I’m going with 420. That’s less than EPISODE I, but substantially more than EPISODE II. I think a lot of people are going to be seeing a lot of stuff multiple times in the theater. I think there’s going to be a real buzz towards big summer movies. I think having a new BATMAN movie in theaters the same time as a new final STAR WARS movie, I think it’s really going to energize people.
Frosty: That’s a really good point. It’s going to be advertised as “the final STAR WARS movie.”
Darth Tardy: I’m quite fond of 420, too.
Darth Tardy: One, because, even if you didn’t like EPISODE I or II, the original trilogy DVDs have rekindled spirits. If he gets this right, then... I like JEDI, so three and a half ain’t bad.
Dr. H: I’m going to say 700, and the reason... I think Lucas wants to beat TITANIC. The movie is going to make 300, then Lucas is going to sell himself one ticket for 400 million. And then it’ll become the highest grossing film of all time.
Herc: I like Beaks’s answer. 220 to 250 is pretty reasonable. Unless it’s good, which is not my guess. My guess is that it’s probably not going to be any good. We’re all going to see it. We’re all excited. We all need that closure... even you, Obi-Swan. But I think based on the record that it has to be bad.
Quint: I’ve been on the record since the second film. Actually since the first film, but it was the second film when I officially said it. If Lucas gets EPISODE III right, then this is the reason to make the trilogy. This one movie is the only reason to even bother going back to the story at all. If he gets it right then a lot of the negativity will go away. He’s really playing up the nostalgia, which I really like. He’s actually making the sets look like the original trilogy for the first time. I hope that this is all an indication of the things to come, but I’m not going to get my hopes up.
Herc: Good or bad?
Quint: I have two answers for that. In my heart of hearts I hope it’s great. But my realistic side tells me that Lucas directs cartoons now.
Frosty: There is no debating it in my mind. This film is going to be good. I’m not even remotely concerned because everyone I’ve spoken to who’s been involved with making the film says very confidently that this is going to deliver. George Lucas did not write it. It was written by someone else. The only weakness I’ve heard is that it still has the cheesy lines line, “This party’s over.”
Herc: I have to stop you there, Frosty. This is the first time that I’ve heard the George Lucas did not write this film.
I’d like to clear something up. At no point has anyone aside from Frosty Skywalker claimed that Lucas didn’t write this film. As I understand it, the initial drafts were entirely written by Lucas. The rumor about Tom Stoppard involved him doing a production dialogue polish. And that’s all. Lucas has sole screenplay credit on the film, and I don’t think that’s wildly inaccurate. In fact, it’s probably pretty close to true. Stoppard is a remarkable wordsmith, and there are some crucial dialogue moments in this movie that Lucas may well have needed to have another person’s help with. Beyond that, it’s his film, and saying otherwise is simply inaccurate.
Jed the Hutt: I’d just like to point out that we’ve mentioned the Tom Stoppard thing a lot. A lot. In every EPISODE III conversation I have I’m giving this news. So it’s not something that’s disseminated. It’s not something even that well known.
Myxtplyk: Well, it’s not like the movie can be a great movie. But if I was not good at all and II is decent, then I’m going to say III could be a good movie.
Andre Dellamorte: The problems with EPISODES I and II is that they were poorly written and poorly directed. If Stoppard fixes the writing and the plotting, then we might have something. Lucas is behind the camera, though, and I don’t think his heart’s in it anymore since PHANTOM MENACE... I agree with Beaks from earlier. If he does what he did with II, which is insert a CHICKEN RUN sequence and stuff like that and re-cut it until the last minute, then I think he’ll ruin his own dinner, as it were. But the Stoppard thing does give me a lot of hope.
Obi-Swan: Good or bad? I guess it really depends on what you consider to be good and bad when it comes to STAR WARS. It’s all from a certain point of view. I didn’t mind when Jar Jar stepped in a pile of shit in EPISODE I. In fact, I hope when Darth Vader takes his first steps in the costume he steps in a pile of shit. I think it’s going to be good.
Sara S: Honestly, I’m out of the predicting for all films. Seriously, I can’t judge. I haven’t read the script. I haven’t seen the film. Indications look like it could be good, but I’m abstaining. This is baloney.
Mr. Beaks: Essential Tom Stoppard... On The Razzle, Jumpers, The Real Thing, and Arcadia. Now, onto film... it’s going to be the best of the three. Not good enough to get the big audience back. Best of the three. Good or bad? I’m going to say good.
The room reacts, surprised by Beaks.
Dr. H: When you think about synchronicity and serendipity and forces at work in the universe, the fact that the next episode is called A NEW HOPE, leads us to believe that things are going to end on a downer for fans.
Herc: Remember, Vader doesn’t love Jesus.
Dr. H: However, I think II was better than I, and III will be better than II, and I liked II, so I think III is gonna be good.
Herc: Seven to five for good.
Jed the Hutt: But all of us have hope, even though STAR WARS fandom has changed so much in just the last ten years. We used to be so accepting of everything that was STAR WARS. Think about the Ewok cartoons and the Ewok movies. The Holiday Special. I mean, there’s been a lot of shitty STAR WARS stuff before the prequels. Why did we roll with it all? Why were we okay with it then, but Jar Jar stepping in shit – I can’t sleep at night. What’s changed?
Quint: The first Ewok movie scared the shit out of me as a kid.
Herc: You were very young.
Quint: Yeah, but that first Ewok movie was dark. That little girl’s parents got murdered in front of her eyes. It’s not soft-peddled.
Obi-Swan: About what Jed is saying, there’s been shitty STAR WARS for years but we never said anything about it. When I was a little kid, I think I knew that the Ewok movies were kind of shitty. The difference, though, between those Ewok movies and the prequels is that George Lucas is directing again. It’s almost like a promise. Even though he didn’t come out and make an announcement, saying, “Hey, guess what, these new STAR WARS movies are gonna rock because I’m back.” He didn’t do that, he just did it. We were just operating under the assumption that it was gonna be the 70’s all over again... that we were gonna get this major treat. And I’m not so sure we didn’t. I think we might be really screwed up. I think we got the goods too early and it really put the zap on our heads. And now it’s like nothing will do. These prequels could have been better, but... who knows? In twenty years we’ll still be arguing about it.
Kraken: Are you telling me that if Spielberg or David Fincher or any good director that has shown that he can do genre film had done the prequels we wouldn’t all be sitting here saying, “Oh, my god... EPISODE III is about to come out. We just had two orgasms and here’s the big one.” If Lucas had not directed and instead handed it over, are you telling me that we would all not be sitting here talking about how great the last ten years would have been?
Obi-Swan: I don’t think George Lucas should have handed over the reigns to the films in the first place. I think he should have directed EMPIRE and JEDI.
Herc’s heart skips a beat.
Obi-Swan: Because even if he had made mistakes, they would have been his mistakes. STAR WARS is George Lucas, even if George Lucas isn’t always STAR WARS. But as they are, I think EMPIRE and JEDI stink pretty strong of Lucas.
Andre Dellamorte: To your point about the Ewoks and the Holiday Special, that stuff wasn’t canon. The TV shows... that’s shit. That’s not canon. The books... no. You gotta go with the movies and the problem with the prequels is that they are the Holy Grail. You can say all you want about Knights Of The Old Republic or Battlefront. They’re all fun and good and I love ‘em. Don’t get me wrong, the video games have been better than the movies, in my opinion. Once you start dealing with the movies, though... this is EPISODE I... this is where the entire story of STAR WARS begins. You get into problems. For me, the energy of EPISODE IV is what carries it. It’s rough. It’s a lot of fun. It’s the energy, and I don’t see Lucas having that kind of energy with these films. Had these two prequels been well told, well plotted stories, I think we would be happy. Look at LORD OF THE RINGS. You can have expectations and have them met. I think if these had been better made films, I think people would have been super enthusiastic.
Myxtplyk: You bring up a great point. How Anakin turns to Vader in my mind... the films can never live up to that. The Red Sox won the World Series, so I guess anything can happen, but in my heart of hearts I know that nothing will live up to the expectations of STAR WARS fans.
Mr. Beaks: Nothing can match what’s in our heads, but there is competency. There’s a certain standard that is to be met. And that standard has not been met with these two films. It’s pretty obvious. They’re not well oiled machines. To go from EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, to go from these like Cracker Jack models of storytelling... (sighs) I don’t think it demanded too much. I think we just wanted something that was close to the level of the previous installments.
Dr. H: Watch a scene from EMPIRE, then imagine cutting to Dexter’s diner.
Sara S: You’re lying to yourself if you don’t think that loving STAR WARS is part of your infantilism of your adulthood. I love STAR WARS because it’s a reconnection to my childhood.
Mr. Beaks: That’s such incredible bullshit. That’s apologist bullshit.
Quint: I loved TROLL, by the way.
Mr. Beaks: I loved THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS and it’s still a great story. We go back to Catcher In The Rye. These were great stories. The reason there is a STAR WARS franchise is because these were stories that were well told. Nobody is getting attached to these new stories. That’s why the box office is diminishing.
Myxtplyk: The Banking Clan versus... whoever...
Mr. Beaks: Yeah. And I’m not going to sit here and listen to apologist horseshit.
Quint: My little brother thought EPISODE I, at the time it came out, was the best STAR WARS movie. He doesn’t think that anymore, thank God.
Mr. Beaks: He thought it was the new flashy toy.
Quint: When EMPIRE came out, kids loved it, adults loved it, everybody loved it. My dad loved it just as much if not more than I did. The grandfather loves STAR WARS. And right now most adults are either very divided or they really dislike it.
Obi-Swan: Do you know why kids today don’t connect with the original trilogy? Because there’s no CG and it’s just a bunch of old Englishmen standing around on sets.
Kraken: Wait a minute. What kids today don’t like the original trilogy? My wife’s a substitute teacher and she teaches nine, ten, eleven year old kids. They fucking love the original trilogy. And they love the prequels, too. She even says that generally they love the originals more than the prequels. I don’t know if it’s because they’re seeing the Special Editions. My father would show me films from his childhood that I recognized as dated, but they were good films. I don’t think their response is based on a lack of CG.
Andre Dellamorte: There’s been a tremendous paradigm shift in the way movies are made and marketed. It has to be acknowledged if you’re discussing how kids view STAR WARS films versus how we viewed them. Most of us here are late twenties, early thirties, notable exceptions included. You have so many more kids films, so many more marketed to them. When we were born, it was at it’s absolute, I’m from ’76, Disney re-issues and shit like THE BLACK CAULDRON...
Someone shouts out THE BLACK HOLE.
Herc: There’s a lot of affection for that kind of thing, but you really have to grow up and look at it again and say, “Y’know... THE BLACK HOLE really was pretty fucking awful.”
Jed the Hutt: We’ve all got a variety of reasons and they’re all valid, but what we’re getting at is that STAR WARS fandom didn’t grow the way any of us thought it would. Why do we care? I’m probably the only person in this room who liked the MATRIX sequels.
Obi-Swan: I liked the MATRIX sequels a lot more than the original, too. The original is kind of one-note. It was a blast of fresh air for sci-fi genre films, but it’s one-note.
Quint: One quick point. Most people rag on JEDI and with good reason. But I think JEDI has some of the best stuff in the entire trilogy. All the stuff between Vader and Luke and the Emperor is absolutely top-notch. And there hasn’t been one bit where I could say that something in EPISODE I rivaled that. And I apologize to Sara and to Obi-Swan because feels like we’re negatively ganging up on them.
Herc: I just want to say that I think the stuff with Vader and Luke and the Emperor is incredibly repetitive and really turned me off on the series.
Dr. H: Thinking of EMPIRE, can anyone even remember what your expectation were?
Mr. Beaks: I remember precisely what I wanted.
Dr. H: Because it wasn’t what I expected. And it blew me away. It was beyond what I was expecting.
Kraken: I’ve met people who have never even seen the original trilogy and saw EPISODE I and II and think they’re shit. These are people who had no expectations. The original STAR WARS made it cool to be a geek. Geek culture existed, but it was in the closet until STAR WARS came out. I don’t think even Star Trek brought out the geeks and made it okay to be a geek. And now the prequels have made people ashamed again.
Andre Dellamorte: STAR WARS was a pop culture phenomenon and you’re branding it a geek thing. It wasn’t necessarily just a geek thing. The prequels and defending the prequels is a geek thing.
Mr. Beaks: Following up on ROCKY, it was a moment in the wake of Vietnam in which the good guys could win. Good and bad was very clearly defined. I don’t even know if we need that in this day and age. Even the good and bad in STAR WARS now is kind of hazy. To a degree.
Kraken: I don’t think the Vietnam thing had any reason to do with why people... I didn’t even know there was such a thing as war when...
Mr. Beaks: We might not have been the ones reacting to Vietnam and the time, but George Lucas was.
Sara S: Fandom, and not just for STAR WARS, has turned really ugly. They turn on each other. Websites are always after one another. There’s always one clan that’s trying to out-scoop another. Fandom used to be very fond. It used to be great and a total community. Now it’s really turfy anymore. Some of it’s funny, but some of it’s really awful. Even STAR WARS message boards especially are the meanest of these groups. They’re brutal towards each other nonstop. The L.A. FanForce won’t talk to the O.C. Fanforce. And they all fuckin’ really hate the San Diego FanForce. And if you think I’m kidding, I’m not. It’s crazy how, like even, our group, the LiningUp.net group, like, we try to get along with other groups but it gets, like, people say you guys are the attention whores or you guys are the fuckers. We just happen to like STAR WARS, too.
There was a fascinating example of this recently when Josh Griffin on TheForce.net implied that he had seen a rough cut of EPISODE III, only to be called out on it by T-Bone, another long-time presence in the online STAR WARS community. T-Bone absolutely refuted many of the claims made by Griffin, who then went on to clarify that he never explicitly said he saw the film. It all got quite contentious, and the shame of it is that I like both guys and think they both know their stuff. They’ve both been responsible for great scoops in the years since 1997, and we really do seem to be reaching a point where even the people writing about STAR WARS have had their fill of the films and each other.
Kraken: I was just going to make a point about Butt-Numb-A-Thon and the Internet. It’s vicious because there is no face-to-face anymore. We used to have to drive long miles to get to conventions and see each other face-to-face to talk about these issues. It’s hard to be vile and mean to people when you’re standing right in front of them. In the Ain’t It Cool chat room, there are people I really don’t care for. Then I meet them at Butt-Numb-A-Thon and all of a sudden he’s a really nice guy. I didn’t want to just walk up and say, “You’re a dick in the chat room,” and spit on them and walk away. I gave them that chance and found out that they’re actually kind of cool. People are much more civilized in person, especially geeks. That’s why I think EPISODE I really suffered, because it was born at about the same time that the Internet really took off and went mainstream. People found the place where they could be the bitches that they are.
Andre Dellamorte: Also, the geekdom culture meant a lot more before the internet. It meant something to dress up, making your own homegrown costume. Now with the Internet you can see that everybody is doing it and there’s less a sense of sharing and more a sense of “mine is better than yours.”
Jed the Hutt: Turn off your computers. Good night, everybody.
Obi-Swan: If you could have George Lucas’s ear for just a moment and you know he’d hear you, what would you say? Even if he had no intention of doing what you say or really thinking about. What would you say to him?
Mr. Beaks: Make the films you want to make, man. The hell with us. Be a filmmaker, man!
Jed the Hutt: Thank you. Thank you for the happy memories I have about STAR WARS. Make the EPISODE III you want to make. Make the movies you want to make.
Darth Tardy: AWESOME!
Herc: EPISODE IV and EPISODE V are two of the best movies ever made. And you should hire Joss Whedon to do the TV series.
Obi-Swan: George, I’m saddened by the fact that you dropped out of filmmaking for so long. You raised a family and that’s great, but your art suffered as a result. We’ll never know what films we’ve lost and you’ll never know how great an artist you might have become if you had allowed yourself to continue to grow. But there’s always the future and I hope you remain productive for the rest of your life.
Quint: I don’t have anything to say because I don’t think Lucas would listen to anyone but his pocketbook. I don’t think he listens to one damn person. If I could actually reach his heart and have him listen to something I say, what I would tell him is to get himself a strong producer. There’s a way to placate the fans and still retain your own identify.
Frosty: Thank your for making some movies... some entertainment I really enjoy. And I really hope this new one will be good. Please be good.
Myxtplyk: George, thanks for the memories. And Baba-Booie to you all.
Andre Dellamorte: Hi, George... long time listener, first time caller. Couple of things. First, love the original trilogy. Can we have them as they were on DVD? Second, can I have my $18.50 back, please?
Kraken: Thanks for ILM. Thanks for THX. Thanks for the original trilogy. And please stop trying to use us as sponges to try and recoup your divorce money. Just remember who you were back when you were making THX 1138. You were a real filmmaker back then. You’re a real genius and I sense there is still good in you.
Thanks, guys. I’ve got some goodies on the way to me right now, and I think we’re going to have to have another one of these in the next month or so. I’d like to get one more on the books for 2004, and then we’re into the final stretch, the months leading up to the release of 2005. I’ll close this out with my comment, which is simply this... expectations are the enemy of fandom. The more time you have to think about a film ahead of time, the more worked up you get about what something should be or what it might be, the more potent your sense of disappointment might end up being when the film doesn’t match what you had in your head. There has never been a film series with greater expectations placed on it than STAR WARS... not even LORD OF THE RINGS... and the result is that every single element of every movie is placed under a microscope by every single fan in a way that no piece of entertainment could withstand. In the end, I enjoy the universe of STAR WARS tremendously. I recently picked up BATTLEFRONT (or STAR WARS HALO, as I call it) for the PS2, and I find that it’s an enormous stress reliever, just being able to shoot Ewoks and Gungans, taking over the Galaxy, and seeing these iconic characters and vehicles under my control. And maybe for fans who have grown disenchanted with the films that Lucas is making, a game is the perfect solution. You can control what you’re watching, you can relive the things you already know you love, and you can leave the movies to those of us who simply want to see how the story already in motion plays out.
At the request of long-time Council member, Sarah S., I thought I'd post this:
LiningUp.Net is proud to announce plans for the Episode III-Revenge of the Sith line in front of the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. The past two fundraising events combined have raised over $72,000 for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, and have drawn Star Wars fans from around the world to see the first screenings of the Star Wars Prequels. We invite all Star Wars fans to come and join us in May 2005 for what looks like the greatest Star Wars adventure yet!
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION!!
As always, thanks to the whole Council. Next time out, I want to involve a few of you guys, so start sending me your letters now telling me why you should be part of the LA Jedi Council, and also feel free to post topics in the Talk Back that you want to see us discuss next time.