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This article was published 5/12/2015 (1575 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Forget Christmas, kids, because there are only 13 more sleeps until Dec. 18, and all you movie maniacs know what that means: the official theatrical release of the hotly anticipated new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, is almost upon us.
Sane film fans are most likely thinking: "Dec. 18? That's great! It will be here before we even know it." Whereas hardcore Star Wars fanatics are staring at the circled date on their calendars and pouting: "Dec. 18??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THAT IS IN A GALACTIC TIME ZONE FAR, FAR AWAY! WAAAAAH!"
To say movie buffs are excited about latching their eyeballs onto the seventh installment in the space saga is a gross understatement. Meanwhile, the marketing blitz inspired by the movie has been underway in this universe for some time.
For example, New York City's top-rated ice-cream producer, Ample Hills Creamery, is capitalizing on the hype by unveiling two limited-edition Star Wars flavours: 1) The Light Side, a marshmallow ice cream with homemade crispy clusters and a smattering of cocoa crisps to "represent the dark side still lurking within the light;" and 2) The Dark Side, ultra-dark chocolate ice cream with espresso fudge brownie pieces, chocolate crisps and white chocolate pearls to "represent the light still hiding in the dark, waiting to burst through."
Kraft Dinner is also getting in on the craze with special Star Wars-themed boxes of the iconic gooey, cheesy macaroni.
In a sincere effort to help you pass the time until Dec. 18, here's a look at our Top-Five Surprising Star Wars Facts You Didn't Know:
OK, film-trivia fanatics, what well-known catchphrase pops up in every Star Wars movie? Take your time, we can wait. If you said "May the force be with you," you are absolutely (dramatic pause) wrong. According to dozens of websites, the phrase "I have a bad feeling about this" has been uttered in all six films thus far in the franchise. It apparently has become a running gag in the Star Wars universe, with at least one character saying it at some point in each film, typically before — and you won't have seen this coming — some calamity befalls the heroes. It's become a classic trick for foreshadowing impending doom. The catchphrase has even popped up in other non-Star Wars projects helmed by filmmaker George Lucas, including the Indiana Jones franchise and video games based on Star Wars. According to StarWars.wikia.com, the expression varies between "bad bad feeling," "very bad feeling" or "really bad feeling," depending on which character is speaking. "When spoken, the A in 'bad' is sometimes drawn out, as in, 'I have a baaad feeling about this,' " the website states. In what appears to be an in-joke in one film, Han Solo turns to Luke Skywalker and asks: "You aren't gonna say you have a bad feeling about this, are you? I hate it when you say that." The social-media universe is currently abuzz with fans debating which character in the new film will be selected to utter these famous words. "I vote for Chewbacca," one fan wrote on Reddit.com. "No one would ever know." Unless, of course, they speak Wookiee.
We all know the Star Wars movies are a feast for the eyeballs, but when you think about it, they are also a special treat for the ears, too. According to Mentalfloss.com, legendary sound designer Ben Burtt got his star on Star Wars fresh out of the University of Southern California's film school and "was tasked with coming up with a completely new and organic soundscape for the movie." Burtt created Chewbacca's iconic voice by blending the vocalizations of a bear, a lion, a walrus and a badger. The beloved pint-sized droid R2-D2's endearing chirps were made using loops on a synthesizer matched with beeps and boops modelled after baby coos performed by Burtt. The infamous deep breathing of the evil Darth Vader was created by putting a microphone inside the regulator on a scuba tank. But our favourite iconic sound, the swooshing shriek of the film's TIE fighter engines, are — brace yourselves for a shock — the sound of an elephant call mixed with the sounds of a car driving on wet pavement. According to the blog Unidentified Sound Object, Lucas had seen a documentary about the Battle of Stalingrad and told Burtt the sound of the Nazi rockets would make a great laser-gun noise. That's when Burtt stumbled on recordings of some stampeding elephants from an old Errol Flynn movie, which he mixed with recordings of cars speeding through puddles in a rainstorm. He slipped the sound in for a screening at the last moment, and everyone went wild. "I'd really put it in because I had no other alternative, but it got great reviews, so naturally it became the sound of the TIE fighters," the sound legend said. No word on how Tarzan felt about this.
The story of what happened to actor Mark Hamill's face has been arguably the franchise's biggest mystery since the first film, Star Wars (later subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope), was released in May 1977. It seems on Jan. 11, 1977, Hamill was in a bad car accident that required facial reconstruction surgery. "What happened was that I was on the wrong freeway," Hamill told Gossip Magazine in 1978. "I was way out in the sticks somewhere... I was speeding, going too fast... and what happened, I think, was that I tried to negotiate an off-ramp and lost control." It was a day before he was to shoot one of the final scenes for Star Wars, so a double was used to show his character, Luke Skywalker, in a landspeeder racing across the desert. In The Empire Strikes Back, a sequel released in 1980, Lucas kicked things off with a scene in which Luke's face is mauled by a Wampa, a carnivorous, sharp-clawed Abominable Snowman-style creature on the ice planet Hoth — supposedly to explain Luke's newly scarred mug. There was also a deleted scene that showed a face graft being peeled off. The thing is, no one has said for sure the Wampa attack was written simply to account for Hamill's scars. Lucas has conceded the scene helped justify Hamill's new look, but insisted it was included "to keep the film suspenseful at the beginning while the Empire is looking for them." Mind you, Princess Leia, a.k.a. Carrie Fisher, has said: "It was a really bad accident... So they adjusted the film with this snow monster to right away in the movie scratch his face to account for his looks being different." By the looks of it, we may have just scratched the surface of this mystery.
OK, take a deep breath and try to imagine the original Star Wars movies WITHOUT crusty Harrison Ford as the wisecracking, lovable smuggler Han Solo. Can't do it, can you? Well, according to online reports, it almost happened. During the seven-month-long casting sessions for Star Wars, Lucas was looking for fresh faces he had not worked with before, so he brought in Ford — who had appeared as street racer Bob Falfa in Lucas's 1973 coming-of-age classic American Graffiti — to feed lines to auditioning actors. Lucas saw dozens of fresh faces, including a young Kurt Russell, but, in the end, he liked Ford's delivery so much he cast him as the iconic captain of the Millennium Falcon. "A producer friend of mine that produced American Graffiti somehow connived to get me to read the lines with people that were auditioning for the parts of Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker," the 73-year-old actor revealed this week on Good Morning America. "I thought I was just helping out. Then, when the whole thing was over, they asked me if I wanted to play Han Solo. I said yes... eventually." Why eventually? It seems he didn't jump at the career-defining role because the pay was underwhelming. "I said: 'How much?' And they said: '$1,000 a week.' And I said: "No! No! But I did. I did it for $1,000 a week... The first one." It cost substantially more to get Ford to suit up as Solo for the rest of the series. So Solo was almost a no-go. We had a bad feeling about that.
This news might drive you bananas, but it seems Lucas's original plan for The Empire Strikes Back was to have the oldest and most revered Jedi master portrayed by a trained monkey. Yes, a masked monkey that had been taught to hold Yoda's trademark cane. We all know Yoda first appeared in the second film, wherein he trains Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force because Obi-Wan Kenobi's ghost told him he should. But most of us probably were in the dark about the notion of casting a monkey as the pint-sized, white-robed, green-skinned Jedi master. "CGI (computer-generated imagery) wasn't a thing back in 1980, and the complications of the puppetry making Yoda work were rough as well when shooting Empire," chirps TheRichest.com. "The wild solution was to take a trained monkey, put a mask on him and have him be Yoda on set." This bizarre tidbit was first revealed by author J.W. Rinzler in his 2010 book, The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The monkeying around came to a quick end, however, when someone involved in production realized "the monkey's just going to pull off the mask over and over again." In the end, Yoda was brought to life as a puppet created by the incomparable Frank Oz (of Muppets fame). Oz also provided Yoda's voice. The little guy was rendered in computer animation in later films. But a (bad word) monkey? Sounds crazy, but hand us a banana, because we think it has appeal.
So do your best to get some sleep, Jedi masters, because you need to be rested for the big première Dec. 18. Until then, as Obi-Wan Kenobi might have said: "May the facts be with you!"
Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.