The Millennium Falcon Experience was SOLD OUT: What everything tells us about what type of society we want to be

In case you hadn’t noticed dear reader, there is a lot going on out there in the world. Even as the White House Correspondents Dinner over the weekend of April 28th showed truly how much we are living in a society well declined, a large number of really big Supreme Court cases are about to have decisions made that will shape American society for the next century. Primary elections are happening in May that will have a major impact on the midterms this upcoming fall, and the Korean peninsula is uniting for the first time in over 70 years. I’ve been writing on this blog site for around a decade now and things are happening so fast that they have defied intellectual saturation, but I have noticed one thing lately that simply amazed me and the start of it came as we were having Millennium Falcon waffles at my house before leaving to visit again the Millennium Falcon Experience at NKU. The new Avengers movie called Infinity War made over $250,000 domestically breaking all kinds of box office records and that was important for a number of reasons in relation to the grand scheme of things. If Jim Cameron was hoping that superhero movies were about to fizzle out, this news would upset him greatly, and many who have tried to use the film industry as a propaganda arm of the liberal left.

The plan was always to take the larger part of my family down to see the Millennium Falcon Experience on Sunday morning at 9 AM—which is why we scouted the event on Friday to figure out how we could take a large group through it. My family was very excited to go see the reproduction of parts of the Millennium Falcon and get some good pictures. One of my daughters is a professional photographer so we wanted to get some great pictures at the Millennium Falcon Experience since we are all Star Wars fans—its seemed like a good opportunity for us. Plus, the character of Han Solo has always been my favorite and without him in a movie, Star Wars has never really been Star Wars. I have been very critical of the new Star Wars movies, except for Rogue One, so I have been nervous about what Lucasfilm and Disney would do to my favorite Star Wars character. Han Solo certainly isn’t a liberal character by any measure, so my concern was that Disney would push to water him down to make it part of their overall liberal agenda at the company these days. However, indications are that the exact opposite will be happening. It appears that Lucasfilm has been listening to their fans since the Force Awakens problems in killing off the character, and the direction they had taken him. This new movie Solo: A Star Wars Story looks like they understand what the character is supposed to be and to what impact that will have on our society as a whole.

Like I always say, my favorite topic isn’t politics, funding challenges, or even scientific endeavor, although I do talk about those things a lot—my favorite topic is mythology. I am mildly obsessed with the way cultures form and what mythologies are used to bring people together, what themes work and which ones don’t. Han Solo is the most popular character in the Star Wars series for a reason, he is a very traditional alpha male who is reckless and in pursuit of his own independence often at whatever cost. I’m sure the progressives within the Disney Company and at Lucasfilm have discussed Solo at great length, and I think much of the reason that Ron Howard was brought in to take over the directing duties was because Donald Trump was elected and wisely Lucasfilm knew they needed to change a few things that were becoming obvious about the world after President Trump moved into the White House.

I was in London while Solo: A Star Wars Story was shooting at Pinewood and I was watching the protests against Donald Trump in those opening months and I listened carefully to the two original Solo movie directors show great support for the movement against Trump. While I don’t think that Kathy Kennedy is a conservative by any measure, the tide of movies that were going to make money certainly had to accept that Trump voters were going to decide if a film succeeded or failed at the box office. So they made some adjustments on the Solo set and brought in Ron Howard who understood that this movie about Han Solo was more about American Graffiti meets A Fistful of Dollars than a space version of 21 Jump Street. Han Solo actually means something to a lot of people, not just me, and Lucasfilm recognized that and decided to make the movie that needed to be made to pay respect to Han Solo, not the movie they wanted to make about Han Solo as a bunch of social progressives, and that is a very important distinction.

This Millennium Falcon Experience was meant to tour city to city with three sections of set reproductions from the Solo movie to generate interest in the film. My wife and I along with two of our grandchildren went to the opening of the event on Friday April 27th and I was impressed with the crowd. I saw what was going on pretty fast, on the public relations side, the event had printed a limited number of tickets that they gave out for free and when they were gone, they were gone which would get people talking about the whole thing on social media, sharing pictures, and generating interest in the new Han Solo movie that would come out on May 25th. The Millennium Falcon Experience would start in Northern Kentucky at NKU, then travel the following weekend to Atlanta, then to Denver before settling in Los Angeles ahead of the premier for the movie. My scouting report, which is seldom ever wrong, which I conveyed to my two daughters was that the big Star Wars geeks would hit this event on Friday and the thing would fizzle out by Sunday after a weekend of being open. After all, there were only so many Star Wars fans out there. Our plan was to show up at 9 AM on Sunday morning when the tickets would be issued, and we’d walk onto the exhibit, get our pictures, then go somewhere nice for breakfast. That’s not what happened.

We arrived at precisely 9:07 AM and found out that all the tickets were gone. People had started lining up at 4:30 AM that morning and the line had wrapped around the building of the BB&T Arena and the whole day sold out well before the event even started. The crew hosting the event wasn’t prepared for such a large crowd, so they issued the tickets so that people could get their tour times and leave, since there were no bathroom facilities. The event was open from 9 to 5 PM and tickets were given at intervals that would allow for about ten minutes of personal touring for each ticket which was good for five people. So doing the math, a lot of people didn’t get a ticket who wanted one. If we hadn’t gone down to the exhibit on Friday, we wouldn’t have been able to see it at all, which just mesmerized me. The opposite of what I thought was going to happen, happened. The Millennium Falcon Experience had more interest in it by day 3 than it did on day one, which I thought was remarkable given the fact that it was a free exhibit for a movie about Han Solo that didn’t come out for another month. There are many in the industry who think that people are going to get Star Wars saturation given that this is the second Star Wars movie within a year, the first was The Last Jedi. But like the Avengers Infinity War, audiences were hungrier than ever for mythological products like these movies—and that said something very important.

Both films talked about here are products of the Disney Company and while the overall movie industry is declining, Disney at least has kept their ear to the ground to give audiences what they need in the characters produced in these movies. There is a theme which all these movie characters represent that speaks to the yearning people have for individualized freedom. Han Solo is certainly all about that restless lust for personal freedom and that Millennium Falcon Experience spoke to that yearning directly. People weren’t just watching it in a movie, they were able to put their hands on it and that hunger surprised even me. I pay really close attention to these kinds of things and this went well beyond the passion I thought was out there. With that in mind I think that by the time this Solo movie hits at the end of May, after Infinity War had been out for over a month, there will be some cultural influences from these movies that will percolate into our society as a whole, in the fields of science, fashion, art and entertainment—in everything, and those things will be happening at a time when the Supreme Court will make decisions on some big cases that will affect us all. I think we are in a world that is changing dramatically, and not for the worst. I think we have been there already and are on the way out of it. But more than that, I think the movies reflect more about what we want to change into than what we just want to participate in as escapist fantasy. And that is a very interesting occurrence for our modern-day experience.

Rich Hoffman

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