May the 4th be with you! Yep, it's Star Wars Day once more, an elegant date for a more civilized age.
To celebrate, we've dived into the archive and popped this bumper Star Wars Factmodo into the Bacta Tank for the day, with a massive 60 facts about the popular film franchise. Covering everything from lightsaber techniques to Muppets, 'N SYNC, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, there's sure to be a force-filled fact you've yet to discover.
Oh, and sorry. We still don't know who Rey's parents are.
1. Less than 40 cinemas wanted to book the first showing of Star Wars
That may seem hard to believe now, with The Force Awakens opening for midnight screenings at thousands of cinemas around the globe. The original release date for Star Wars was moved to before Memorial Day in the US (so it didn’t compete with summer blockbusters), but very few cinemas actually wanted to show the film. Around the same time Fox was releasing an eagerly anticipated film called The Other Side of Midnight. In order to make Star Wars more popular, Fox stipulated that any cinema showing The Other Side of Midnight must also show Star Wars.
That is actually illegal, so Fox ended up being fined $25,000. Which was obviously $25,000 well sacrificed, considering what Star Wars would go on to achieve.
2. There’s an incredible island called Niue that accepts collectible Star Wars coins as legal tender
The small South Pacific nation is linked to New Zealand and recognised Queen Lizzy II as its monarch. The coins are made from pure silver, and feature a fully coloured Star Wars character on one side, and Queen Elizabeth II on the other.
3. ‘N SYNC made a cameo in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
Yep Justin Timberlake et al, were filmed for the movie because they were big fans of the franchise (not to appease Lucas’ daughters, as some legends suggest). Needless to say, their scene was cut from the final film, due to the understandable uproar it created.
4. Peter Cushing played Grand Moff Tarkin wearing slippers
Peter Cushing, infamous diva (maybe?), found his costume boots very uncomfortable. He insisted his feet were never in shot, and simply wore slippers while filming. This caused problems for Revenge of the Sith, which was to feature a CGI post-death Cushing – the artists struggled to find full body, full costume shots of Cushing to work from, and a heavily made-up lookalike was used instead.
5. Steven Spielberg makes million from the Star Wars franchise, despite not being a part of production
Steven Spielberg made a bet with George Lucas, saying he’d trade 2.5-percent of Star Wars for 2.5-percent of Close Encounters (Lucas believing that Close Encounters would be the biggest film of all time).
Business Insider estimates this made Spielberg a cool $40 million.
6. Yoda was originally going to be played by a monkey
Not JUST a monkey, a monkey carrying a cane and wearing a mask.
7. Doctor Who costumes made an appearance in the films
Bossk the bounty hunter’s clothing was first seen in Doctor Who. When is the cross-over film coming out?
8. There’s an extra, famous for carrying an ice cream maker. He now has an elaborate back story
Willrow Hood, AKA Ice Cream Maker Guy, is seen evacuating Cloud City with an ice cream maker underneath his arm. Turns out it’s not actually a device for creating cooled dairy products (it is, lazy prop department) but it’s a database of Rebel contacts.
You can read Willrow’s back story here.
9. Revenge or Return of the Jedi?
Some people will tell you that Return of the Jedi was originally going to be called ‘Revenge of the Jedi’, until George Lucas realised that Jedi’s don’t seek revenge.
There are trailers and posters in existence with Revenge printed on them, to back this up.
That not true. The film’s title was originally Return of the Jedi, but 20th Century Fox believed it was too bland, and forced the change the Revenge. It wasn’t until pretty late in the release that Lucas persuaded them to change it back.
10. Warwick Davis got his big break because R2-D2 got food poisoning
When Kenny Baker, R2-D2 actor, got food poisoning, he was forced to relinquish his role as the main Ewok named Wicket. Warwick Davis, now-famous British actor, stepped in instead, basing his performance on his curious dog.
11. Steve Sansweet is the biggest Star Wars collector in the entire world
70-year old Sansweet earned the Guinness World Record for the "World's Largest Collection of Star Wars Memorabilia” in 2013. His 9,000- square foot house/museum, named Rancho Obi-Wan, contains around 300,000 unique items. You can pay $75 for a private tour. [YouTube]
12. Droid IG-88 was built from recycled Cantina props
His head was previously a drink dispenser. That would explain his aim.
13. Ewan McGregor made lightsaber sounds with his mouth during his battle scenes
Everyone’s picked up a broom or stick at some point and made lightsaber - turns out Ewan McGregor is no different. Though, his home-made sound effects had to be removed in post-productions, obviously.
14. Obi-Wan Kenobi actor Alec Guinness thought Star Wars was “fairy-tale rubbish”
Alec Guinness, the esteemed English actor, had an on/off relationship with the Star Wars franchise. His most famous comment, "it’s fairy-tale rubbish” is actually followed by praise of the film’s moral good. He wrote in his diary, “It's a pretty staggering film as spectacle and technically brilliant. Exciting, very noisy and warm-hearted.
“The battle scenes at the end go on for five minutes too long, I feel, and some of the dialogue is excruciating and much of it is lost in noise, but it remains a vivid experience."
He did, also say, “What I didn't tell Lucas was that I just couldn't go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines. I'd had enough of the mumbo jumbo." And that he, "shrivelled up" every time Star Wars was mentioned.
Saying that, he managed to negotiate 2.25-percent of the film’s gross royalties, which netted him around £56 million.
15. In comparison, Harrison Ford was only paid $10,000 for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
That was only $1,000 a week. Still, he’s done alright for himself since.
16. Qui-Gon Jinn’s communicator is actually a Gillette Ladies Sensor Excel razor
Maybe that’s how Liam Neeson got such a magnificent beard. [Image Credit: Pinterest]
17. You (yes you!) can be involved in making a full-sized Millennium Falcon replica
Read all about the project here, and offer your services.
18. The phrase “I have a bad feeling about this” is said in every film
Well, every one so far at least. Luke says it in the Falcon in A New Hope, as does Han in the trash compactor, Leia takes it in Empire on the asteroid, C-3PO in Return of the Jedi upon arriving at Jabba's palace, Obi-Wan in the first scene of Phantom Menace, Anakin in Attack of the Clones arena, and Obi-Wan again in the opening space battle of Revenge of the Sith. Han Solo does the honours in The Force Awakens. Bet that feeling got a whole lot worse once he caught up with Kylo...
19. The term for cutting someone's limb off with a lightsaber is Cho Mai
Cho Sun is the term used for cutting off a weapon-holding appendage (which, in the alien-filled Star Wars universe, probably accounts for tentacles too), and Mou Kei is removing several limbs at once.
20. Bad Motherfucker was allegedly engraved on Samuel L. Jackson’s lightsaber
There’s no proof of this. So yes, technically cheating for a Factmodo. But if anyone has ‘bad motherfucker’ written on their lightsaber, it’d be Samuel L. Jackson. It is, of course, a reference to Pulp Fiction.
As for the reason Mace Windu’s lightsaber was purple? It’s because he wanted to stand out in the epic battle scenes. Lucas refused at first, but later gave in, because, y’know, it’s Samuel L. Jackson.
21. You can get fit in lightsaber classes (on Earth, for reals)
If you happen to live in the certain parts of California, you can join the Lightsaber Team. It’s a fitness workshop based on learning the art of lightsaber duels. The classes are run by John-Michael "JM" Arias, who also says they have an important role in developing social skills. Check it out here.
22. Luke Skywalker was mauled by a Wampa, because Mark Hamill was in a bad car accident
Mark Hamill was in a car accident before filming started on Episode V, causing severe facial trauma. So the scene in which he runs into a Wampa is added to account for the scarring on his face.
23. Originally, R2-D2 could speak English
He had a foul vocabulary. Turns out it made him less likeable.
24. The genre of music heard in the Cantina scene is called “Jizz”
25. The name R2-D2 came from audio recording nomenclature
George Lucas decided on R2-D2 while filming American Graffiti, when a member of the crew asked him to retrieve ‘reel two of the second dialogue track’, which would have been shortened to, “Could you get R2-D2 for me?”
26. Up until The Force Awakens, every Star Wars film has been released around a week after George Lucas’ birthday
With the exception of The Force Awakens, so far every Star Wars film has been released around a week after May 14. Rogue One will continue to buck the trend with its December 2016 release.
27. The budget on A New Hope was so limited the cast and crew had to fly from the US to the UK economy rather than first
It’s not all Glamour in the film industry. When Carrie Fisher’s mother heard about this she called Lucas to complain. Fisher took the phone from her mum and told her, “Mother, I want to fly coach, will you fuck off?!”
28. E.T’s species can be seen in the Galactic Senate
Or at the very least, an alien race which looks almost identical to E.T.
E.T phone the Death Star.
29. Harrison Ford was never meant to be Han Solo
Ford was originally only brought in to feed lines to auditioning actors, but Lucas was so impressed with his performance the decided to offer him the part. Kurt Russell, for instance, is known to have auditioned.
30. General Grievous’ hacking bark was a recording of George Lucas coughing
The early concept General Grievous saw him as a child sitting in a floating chair. This was thrown out. During production on the film, Lucas developed a bad cough, which he recorded and used as Grievous’ hacking bark.
31. An army of Wookiees was intended to feature in Endor, but they were too technologically advanced as a species
Lucas wanted a primitive species to live on Endor, but Chewie was seen repairing the Falcon, and therefore, considered too advanced. Wookiees replaced by Ewoks was not, as common myth would have you believe, due to costume budget.
The word ‘Ewok’ isn’t actually mentioned at all in Return of the Jedi, either.
32. A disco version of the Star Wars theme reached No. 1 in the charts
It’s by Meco, and named Star Wars Theme and Other Galactic Funk. It’s on pretty much non-stop repeat in Giz Towers.
33. Tupac Shakur was going to audition for the role of Mace Windu
Sadly, the rapper died before he had a chance to read for the role.
34. Darth Vader has been played by six different people
Most famously by Englishman David Prowse, but also by James Earl Jones, Bob Anderson, Sebastian Shaw, Jake Lloyd, and Hayden Christensen.
35. Someone’s job at Lucasfilm is to simply ‘maintain the Star Wars canon’
In case it’s required to destroy Alderaan...
...and also to stop people messing with the delicate universe.
36. The sound a TIE Fighter engine is actually the sound of an elephant call mixed with a car driving on wet pavement
You’ll never hear those two sounds at the same time again without thinking of Star Wars.
[Image Credit: Disney Wikia]
37. George Lucas likes to steal from other languages
You probably know the Dutch word for ‘father’ is ‘vader’, but Lucas also used the Sanskrit word for ‘warrior’ to name ‘Yoda’. Ewoks speak a combination of Tibetan and Nepalese.
38. The working title for Episode II was Jar Jar’s Big Adventure
39. Look closely and you’ll see a potato and a shoe in an Empire Strikes Back asteroid sequence.
The shoe was apparently chucked in because one of the SFX animators became annoyed at Lucas requesting adjustments to the sequence.
40. Many of Tatooine buildings are still used by Tunisian locals
Tunisia was the location used to film many shots of the planet Tatooine. The buildings are still in use, and you can go visit them.
41. Luke Skywalker was originally imagined as a dwarf and Han was a green-skinned alien
Could you imagine that for a second?
Solo was originally a green-skinned alien with gills. He only had a minor role in the story. He was changed to human so that he’d have a closer relationship with Leia and Luke.
42. Only 30 people died in The Empire Strikes Back
Well, onscreen at least. That’s the lowest body count of all the films.
Episode III contains the highest body count, with a total 115 deaths on screen. That figure, of course, doesn’t factor in the deaths of the population of Alderaan, which was destroyed in Episode IV.
43. The opening sequence was filmed using a ‘physical crawl’
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.... Inspiration was taken from Flash Gordon, and filmed using a physical model of the text and a panning camera.
44. Jim Henson turned down the role of Yoda’s puppeteer
The Yoda puppet was so lifelike, director Irvin Kershner often gave instructions to it, instead of the puppeteer Frank Oz.
45. The code name for Return of the Jedi was Blue Harvest, a reference to the 1929 novel Red Harvest
Blue Harvest, the mock horror film has the tagline “horror beyond imagination.” The cast actually seriously considered making it when a series of sandstorms halted production.
The title was later used for the Family Guy pastiche.
46. Jabba the Hutt’s Kowakian monkey-lizard jester is called Salacious B. Crumb
Crumb had a deal with Jabba: If Crumb amused Jabba at least once a day, he would be allowed to eat and drink as much as he pleased, if he failed, he would be slain.
47. Return of the Jedi almost ended with Luke putting Darth Vader’s helmet on and proclaiming, “Now I am Vader”
That’s certainly on the darker side of things.
48. In 1997, Star Wars Monopoly was the first officially inter-licensed Star Wars game. Star Wars LEGO was the first video game franchise combination in 2005
A less well-known Star Wars tie-in was in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, where you can play as Darth Maul or Jango Fett.
49. Yoda, the number of toes you cannot count
Depending on which film you're watching, Yoda has a different number of toes.
In The Phantom Menace, the little green dude has just three toes. But in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith, he has four.
50. Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey shares an almost identical production crew
George Lucas really admired Stanley Kubrick. He hired so many people from the 2001: A Space Odyssey production, the crew was called "The Class of 2001.”
51. Chewbacca’s growls are made from ill animals and R2-D2’s vocals are electrified baby sounds
Sound effects in the films come from the audio brain of Ben Burtt.
52. Darth Vader is banned from all official Star Wars events
David Prowse, AKA Darth Vader (in form, not voice or spirit), is banned from attending official Star Wars conventions, because George Lucas ‘finds him annoying’. It’s probably the asthma.
53. Luke Skywalker was originally going to be named Luke Starkiller
It’s not a great name for our hero, but Starkiller is a good name for an indie hip hop artist. The name would pop up again as the nickname for Galen Marek, hero of The Force Unleashed video games, and as the star-system destroying superweapon in The Force Awakens.
54. The lightsaber noise comes from the familiar hum of a CRT television
It’s created by combining the hum of an old television with the buzz of a film projector's motor.
55. Liam Neeson’s height cost the production $150,000
The sets on The Phantom Menace had to be rebuilt to make the door frames large enough to accommodate 6-foot 4-inch Neeson.
56. Did you notice the extraterrestrial nip slip?
Jabba’s dancing alien, Oola, has a slight wardrobe malfunction when dancing to Lapti Nek. Surprising, the little mistake also made it into the is Special Editions, despite George Lucas spending hundreds of man-hours changing every other aspect of that scene.
57. The total Star Wars franchise has earned $28 billion
That's including merchandise, books, VHS sales, games, television, everything! According to Statistic Brain – check out their workings here.
58. In 1987, Apple produced an unlicensed Star Wars game for the Apple II
The game was released on cassette tape, you’d play as "space pilot trainee", tasked with destroying TIE fighters using a first-person heads-up display.
59. Director George Lucas was originally paid £76,000 for writing and directing, but insisted on total control and 40% of merchandising
The studio agreed to this, because, before Star Wars, film merchandise wasn't a ‘thing’.
60. Fans originally had to buy empty boxes in place of toys
George Lucas and Kenner Toys were unable to meet demand for the first Christmas rush, so they sold and early bird certificate box for $16. After two months, the toys then arrived, free to people who already had the boxes.
More than 250 million small action figures were shipped in the eight years after the first film, in numerous countries across the world.
This post was first published on December 17th 2015