Monday, May 07, 2007

Star Wars 30th Anniversary Special - part 7

When "Star Wars" hit theaters in 1977, there were no multiplexes, and no VCRs. Movies also did not see the wide releasing that they receive now where they appear in pretty much every single movie house across the country on opening day. In 1977, they would hit the major cities first, then start migrating out the the rest of the country, often taking months to hit the smaller towns. "Star Wars" did not reach where I lived until July, if I remember correctly.

Conversely, if a movie was a hit it would often play in the same theater for months on end, occassionally disappearing for a few weeks while a previously booked movie came along, only to reappear again periodically after that. I'm pretty certain that "Star Wars" played in some theaters for a year straight, perhaps longer, though it was often rereleased those initial years, so I can't say for sure. This made seeing it repeatedly pretty easy.

But was there an alternative? What if you wanted to watch it at home? This Kmart from the November26, 1977 TV Guide provides the only real possibility. $22.88 was a pretty hefty amount of money back in 1977, and "Star Wars" was condensed from a 2-hour movie to an 8 minute movie. I wouldn't have cared, but I never owned the 8mm version. I still wonder if it was a condensed version of the whole movie, or just one or two entire scenes, like other 8mm versions of Hollywood movies were.


Robert Pope said...

Wow. Never saw THAT before. Off to Ebay!

Rozum said...

Let me know how you do. I'll go over and watch it with you.

Sam said...

I remember seeing this at a friend's birthday party in the 70's. I think it was pretty much a compilation of all the action scenes, with no sound. It didn't really matter because we all knew the whole movie inside and out by then. The part I remember the most was the shootout right after Vader kills Kenobi, when the stormtrooper falls over the ledge. We made the kid's dad run it backwards so the stormtrooper would pop back up. This was, of course, before VCRs, and watching just this paltry eight minutes of Star Wars at home was a HUGE deal.

Lacey said...

In San Diego, so my father told me, Star Wars ran at the Valley Circle Theater, a major big screen theater in Mission Valley, for a year. He still has the "happy birthday" newspaper ad the theater ran.
He saw it before it was discovered by the masses. Of course he also saw "star crash" so not all of his picks were hits in those days - LOL

Steve Goble said...

In Super 8 circles, copies of Star Wars are actually pretty common. There were loads of different cut-downs of the movie, and you got different scenes depending on which country you were in. My version is 16 minutes long, and includes the droids being bought, the light-sabre battle (minus Ben's actual death!) and a bit of space battle, concluding with C-3PO hilariously tangled in a load of wires!

The full-length version was also released on Super 8, and when last I checked was going for a couple of hundred British pounds.

DVD projectors, for all their digitally restored clarity, still lack the raw uxpixelated warmth of real film, even if you do have to change the reel every half hour. :)