Flavin's Corner
11-27-98

Trailer Splash

     In much the same way most of us (depending on age) vividly
recall first hearing about such emotionally indelible events as
the news of the assassination of Pres. Kennedy, Neil Armstrong
walking on the Moon, and the explosion of the space shuttle
Challenger, many can reminisce and describe when they saw,
where they were, who they were with, and what they felt after
watching the paradigmatic STAR WARS, the 1977 George Lucas
science-fantasy movie.  On Tuesday, Nov. 17th, a two minute
'trailer', or short preview advertisement, of the newest
installment of the proposed nine episode saga (of which the
original STAR WARS TRILOGY represents episodes four, five,
and six), STAR WARS EPISODE ONE: THE PHANTOM
MENACE was initially shown in about 75 theaters across the
country, and went into general release on Friday, Nov. 20th.  The
splash this trailer has made has been remarkable.  THE FORCE
is strong in this trailer.  Very strong...

     Though I still consider myself a science-fiction enthusiast,
I'd have to admit that attending the wild conventions, the
reading of a dozen cheap sci-fi paperbacks a week, and much of
the fan-driven, extraneous accompaniments ('zines, newsletters,
discussion groups, etc.) are just about a thing of the past with
me.  Much like, after a fashion, when a woman I know stated, "I
don't look at pornography, I prefer to make it," at this stage of
my life I would rather struggle through the writing of a
sophomoric space-western, than expend my time reading
someone else's effort.  Been there, done that, bought the
damned t-shirt and now use it as a shoe-shine rag.  Still, I enjoy
the occasional work of others, and when it comes to a new STAR
WARS film..., I readily assume the disposition of Chauncy
Gardener and confess, as well, that "...I like to watch!"

     I first learned of the pre-release viewings of THE PHANTOM
MENACE on Matt Drudge's web-page. The Drudge Report, an
uneven series of snippets culled from unnamed sources, usually
concentrates on political news and gossip, and has achieved
infamous notoriety for its scoop of the Monica Lewinsky affair.
Though Matt is now quite busy with his FOX-NEWS tv show, and
updates his web-page only three or four times a week (instead
of daily), he still manages to dish the dirt about Washington
somewhat ahead of other 'yellow' journalists.  Accustomed to
reading about Clinton, Hillary, Starr, Reno, and all the other
D.C. personalities, I was caught off-guard by Matt's inclusion
of information about the STAR WARS trailer.  He treated its
pre-release as 'news'.  I found this as equally intriguing as the
pre-release itself.

     That Tuesday night and into Wednesday, reports began to
account how eager fans across the country were paying full
ticket prices at the box-office, watching the little more than
two minute long trailer, then leaving the theater and skipping
the main feature.  Some reports mentioned fans with entirely
too much time and money on their hands, who had revisited the
theater and paid for the main feature three and four times, to
see the trailer over and over again.  To describe this as
unprecedented is pointless -- George Lucas' STAR WARS saga
is in a league of its own and no amount of zealous (and odd)
behavior on the part of fans should come as a surprise.  Gee, I
was ALMOST tempted to visit a local theater that night to see
the trailer!  Unfortunately, I have Jedi training classes on
Tuesday nights, and couldn't make it.

     Thursday was a day of preparation, as Friday morning the
trailer went into national general release.  ABC's GOOD
MORNING AMERICA showed the trailer in its entirety and all
day long CNN ran the trailer once an hour, every hour, as a
'news' story and not entertainment.  For those in cyber-space,
the  OFFICIAL STAR WARS WEB PAGE began to offer the
trailer available in several different downloadable mediums
(RealVideo, .mov and .avi files, and others).  Matt Drudge
proceeded to follow up his report of the pre-release of the
trailer with a second short mention, quoting fans on the
AIN'T IT COOL news page, who described themselves as
"weeping and shaking" from viewing the trailer.  I'm fairly certain
that phenomenological escapism beats drinking a six-pack of beer
and watching the BSDM of the evening news!  I can only wonder
how audiences will respond when the first film installment of
J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy classic THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE
RING (being Part One of THE LORD OF THE RINGS 'trilogy')
is released in a couple of years.  THE DARK SIDE of THE
FORCE is certainly strong, but I suspect Gandalf could have
kicked Darth-butt with his staff tied behind his back!

     I fondly remember being in awe of the special effects of the
original STAR WARS movie, as I'm sure do most people.  When
Han took the Millennium Falcon into hyperdrive for the first
time, my heart raced at the experience.  Likewise, scarily
enough for the three female passengers who accompanied me to
the movie and were on their way home in my borrowed Camero,
all hearts raced as I zipped and zoomed down the highway,
trying to recreate the feeling of hyperdrive.  I believe the
feeling only came close for a moment, then disappeared, as all
three passengers began to yell at me.  Oh well!

     The May 1999 release of THE PHANTOM MENACE seems
well planned.  By then, it is probably hoped, most movie-goers
will have seen STAR TREK: INSURRECTION and the new
version of MIGHTY JOE YOUNG.  Also, people will have
sufficiently recovered from holiday expenditures to be able to
afford next year's ticket-prices.  It's said that the trailer will
be prominently featured during January's SUPER BOWL and,
one may only assume, fast-food tie-ins will engulf the entire
planet.  The splash the trailer for THE PHANTOM MENACE has
already made is, in all likelihood, just a preview of something
which may very well empty the pond.  This is THE BIG ONE,
folks!

live long and have fun,
Rick

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