The Box Office Trouble for ‘Solo’ is Not the Movie’s Fault: Free advice to Disney on how to proceed forward–I just want it to work

I’d like to thank Disney and Lucasfilm for making the new Star Wars film Solo: A Star Wars Story. I am very sorry that financially it didn’t work out the way they needed it to. It was a bold film for them to make in these highly politically charged times and I’m amazed by the product that ended up on the screen. I’ve seen it many times now and after taking some of the emotion out of it, I think it’s the best Star Wars movie to date. It’s certainly in my top ten movies of all time. Part of that is that Han Solo is my favorite character but a lot of it is that it is a wonderful anthology film put together at a breakneck pace that was very positive. The characters are fun, the scenarios entertaining and the scope of it is just jaw dropping. Its science fiction and adventure on a top-tier level and is on par with the first two Indiana Jones films from back in the 1980s. I think the movie will go a long way to repairing the Star Wars brand which was severely damaged by The Last Jedi which came out just 5 months prior. I hope that Disney still gives Lucasfilm the latitude to continue making Star Wars films—because they are valuable. Solo: A Star Wars Story may have fallen short of expectations financially, but I think in the long run will prove to be one of the most important. It may have taken everyone three prior films to find their footing, but they certainly did—unfortunately the fan base was already damaged which played a major part in the poor financial outing of this latest movie.

The hatred and rebellion that many fans showed toward Disney and Lucasfilm prior to the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story is complicated and filled with many contemporary minefields that are specific to our times. I knew what was going on during the second weekend of the film’s release when Forbes, The Hollywood Reporter and Vanity Fair all did hit pieces on Solo: A Star Wars Story about the weekend box office take before anybody really had a chance to get to the theater. Clearly, they were trying to shape the story as the media picked up and created a narrative that actually contributed to low ticket sales. Many people who I talked to on Saturday June 2nd who had not yet seen the film told me they hadn’t gone because they heard the movie wasn’t very good and was struggling financially, so they were holding out for Jurassic World or seeing The Avengers again. I was thinking that this situation was very much an Ellsworth Toohey moment from the great American novel, The Fountainhead. It didn’t matter how good Solo: A Star Wars Story was, critics intended to torpedo the film due to their own political activism and it was having an impact. People who might otherwise want to see the film weren’t going because they got caught up in the narrative created by the entertainment press that was using the power of their media to instigate more Star Wars films without “white” heroes in them and more gay characters focused on diversity, not unrealistic adolescent popcorn action sequences.

Even with all that against it, a movie like this can still make a billion dollars at the box office, but Solo: A Star Wars Story unfortunately was the victim of a massive rebellion of fan wrath that I was afraid was going to happen. If Solo: A Star Wars Story had come out in December of 2017 and The Last Jedi had come out this past May 25th, the fan base might have been aligned more than it was. But as it stood, the fan base for Star Wars was split and a percentage of fans just were not going to see Solo no matter how much they wanted to. That in itself was complicated as there are many cultural trends locked up in that protest intention—for instance the belief that big companies like Disney should not be in the movie making business to make a profit. But if the real roots of the narrative were explored there was a very legitimate fan complaint that Disney had ejected the previous expanded universe of Star Wars and had stuffed the new era films with political activism that just didn’t fit.

Politics has always been a part of Star Wars, but the vantage point has always been on the big scale. For instance, the Empire was always reminiscent of Nazi Germany and most everyone going to the movies could agree that Hitler and the Nazis were evil. However, these days not even the filmmakers at Disney and Lucasfilm can agree on what a Nazi is. To liberal filmmakers like Jon Kasden and the director Ron Howard, Nazis are Trump Republicans while Republicans from the flyover states see the Empire as the tenants of liberalism. George Soros is the ultimate Emperor in the eyes of the Midwest so there is already a divide in the fan base that was exacerbated by the filmmakers due to their liberal activism, such as Jon Kasden, the writer of Solo: A Star Wars Story letting it leak ahead of the film’s release that the character of Lando was pansexual. I understand why he said what he did—he was looking for a way to appeal to the liberal critics and get better reviews on the Rotten Tomato meter—which didn’t work. But it was worth a shot, I can’t blame him. Then Ron Howard Tweeted nearly the same day a bunch of anti-Trump information that fed into the story of Solo: A Star Wars Story, that the Empire was like the United States and taking over domestic planets against their will. In the Han Solo film, the political activism wasn’t nearly as bad as it was in The Last Jedi, but it was there certainly as a distraction, something that just wasn’t done back in the days of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Once the makers of Star Wars allowed it to be known that they were all liberals, they turned off half the American nation to their product and if the Americans weren’t going to support such a movie then the oversea markets certainly weren’t going to give it a chance.

Then there are the fans who just wanted to protest this film by denying it support. They are angry, and I understand it. I was one of those guys after The Force Awakens. I took a whole year off Star Wars and it was only about a month before Rogue One was released that I decided to give the movie a chance, and it was good and did win my approval. So I decided to give The Last Jedi a chance, which I thought was good enough to enjoy. It’s my least favorite Star Wars movie by far, but it was worth the attention. Solo: A Star Wars Story however won me back. I felt that Lucasfilm and Disney went well out of their way to win back fans, but for many it came too late. So Disney is going to have to keep listening and work hard to build back the fan base. They did for me with Solo, hopefully they stick with it and give people the films they want, not the political activism that they think the fans will just take so they can get a Star Wars fix—which is what I think Kathy Kennedy got caught doing. She and many of the top executives at Disney thought that Star Wars fans would put up with gay characters, progressive plot points, and the complete eradication of 30 years of books and comics just so they could get another Star Wars movie and that turned out not to be the case. Many people just didn’t even give Solo: A Star Wars Story a chance, they were intent from the beginning to protest the film to force Disney to make executive level decisions about the entire franchise.

If I were Disney I would let Lucasfilm make more films like Solo: A Star Wars Story. I’d set a budget cap at a $150 million and force the filmmakers to stay under it. I wouldn’t let any Star Wars film go up over $200 million assuming that the movies will make over a billion dollars each. That may not be the case even when the fans come back to Star Wars, I’d keep the projects down to something reasonable and focus on rebuilding the franchise, because the nostalgia factor is no longer there. It’s time to make movies that make history not ones that remember it. Solo: A Star Wars Story had both elements in it, and if Disney made more movies like it, the fan base would expand, not contract. But its going to take time, I just hope they have the patience to follow through on it. Three Star Wars movies a year with budgets of $150 million each and a box office take of $500 million each globally would do a lot more for the franchise than one movie a year that makes a billion. It’s just simple math, but the fans need to be fed. If Disney is smart, they’ll give the fans what they want, and then everyone can be happy. Solo: A Star Wars Story was certainly a step in the right direction. The fans will agree once the politics of the moment drift into history. But not until then.

Rich Hoffman

Why Disney Destroyed Han Solo: Progressive activism and attacking “white, American, family men”

I knew there was trouble on June 3rd 2015 when Marvel comics announced that Han Solo had an ex-wife in its comic #6 issue.  I didn’t want to believe it, but after later seeing The Force Awakens, I am 100% sure that what I was watching Disney do was on the scale of the old medieval churches in Europe re-writing history with their printing of Bibles to control the mass population through religion.  Star Wars was becoming something of a religion around the world, and now that the Disney Corporation had paid 4 billion dollars for it they were taking great liberties with very important characters in an attempt to change their original meaning to the overall story.   They didn’t have to, because the property had already been developed by George Lucas over three decades into a positive household name with no signs of abating.  Even more alarming was that Han’s revisionist wife was a black woman named Sana Solo proving that Disney was more interested in establishing progressive values in their ownership of Star Wars instead of just continuing the story that so many loved.   Disney was deliberately smearing the market impression that Han Solo had on the Star Wars stories and they were doing it not to be more successful, but because they wanted to change the meaning and mythic impact of the overall story arc.  That is why if you were listening to WAAM today at 1 PM in the afternoon, you would have heard Matt Clark and I dismantling Disney’s ownership of the Star Wars franchise.  If you missed it, you can hear it again here and above this paragraph in two parts:

http://dorksideoftheforce.com/2015/06/03/meet-sana-solo-han-solos-wife-star-wars-6/

I am quite a believer that the Bible has been revised to such an extent by political forces over the years that it has lost much of its original meaning—so I don’t trust it.  One fine example is the missing Book of Enoch which would have been an important part of Genesis.  It is not considered by Jews and many other Christian groups to be part of the Biblical “canon” and knowing that one can only wonder what else has been left out, or added to the stories that have made three of the world’s religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims.  Like it or not, Star Wars has become something of a religion.  Another few hundred years and it will likely have more influence over mass populations than Christianity does today—and that all starts with these seemingly simple stories being shown in our lifetime.  So it concerned me greatly when Han Solo was introduced in Marvel #6 with a black wife—which I didn’t believe at the time.  My wife and I talked about it a bit, I was then involved in a large motorcycle accident which soaked up a lot of time and attention.  I was also involved in a massive international project that was taking a lot of time.  But my concern was so great that I stopped buying Star Wars merchandise at that moment.  I had been reading the books and comics to alleviate the daily pressure associated with my life.  But upon the release of Star Wars #6 under Marvel Comics, I stopped, immediately.

When Marvel took over the comics which were supposedly Pablo Hidalgo approved from the Star Wars story group six months earlier from Dark Horse I was curious that they didn’t show a desire to connect the story material between the two publishing conglomerates.  I didn’t let that bother me too much because comics I don’t consider to be as important as novels—especially the New York Times bestselling books that had taken over the Star Wars canon for two decades in a really positive way.  But under Disney’s ownership of Marvel they had introduced a black woman to be Han Solo’s wife in an effect to emphasize negative character traits of one of the most popular characters in Star Wars Solo was a white guy superman type of character, so I wondered if Disney’s direction was a political one.  Later when I saw The Force Awakens, it clarified it emphatically.   Disney had revised the Star Wars canon personally created by George Lucas to make the stories more progressive politically.  They were essentially destroying a major character for the sake of editing the impact the character had on established mythology.  This was equivalent to the way that progressives have attacked Thomas Jefferson as a real historic figure with the Sally Hemings allegations, or to attack Jesus and his relationship with Mary Magdalene, the prostitute in the Bible who traveled with Jesus and was there at his execution.  We have witnessed revised history taking place in our public schools and colleges for the purpose of erasing history and now it was happening in Star Wars—an entertainment property that was just supposed to be for fun.  Yet Disney was purposely destroying the character of Han Solo because of the impact he had on so many fans as being a very strong, and reliable character. My suspicions were confirmed at the beginning of September when a gay character was included in the new Star Wars novel Aftermath, which I reported a warning to Disney upon release.  CLICK HERE TO REVIEW. 

I’m not against black characters in Star Wars, or even alternative sexual types.  However, Star Wars has always been an updated western, a space opera intended to communicate mythic stories that propelled our society with foundation philosophies.  Until Star Wars comic #6, then the novel Aftermath followed by the confirmation of all my concerns with the movie The Force Awakens, I felt I could trust Lucasfilm with a story canon that was personally managed by George Lucas.   I could read a story in a book or comic and believe that it had meaning to the overall collection of stories that had been canon until the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm from George Lucas.  Now in a very short time, Disney didn’t even try to cover their intentions with subtlety.   They disrespected the long-time fans so much that they counted on sheer numbers to justify their collective activism of taking a deeply traditional story like Star Wars and turning it into a progressive mess.  Disney was showing itself to be much more interested in selling the politics of the Obama White House than in just telling a story set in a galaxy far far away.   Disney was promoting gay sex and interracial marriages over protecting the value of what made Star Wars successful to begin with.  So for me, the only Star Wars canon is the one that took place before Disney took over.  The last official book in the Star Wars canon under the guidance of George Lucas was the very good book The Crucible.  It takes place 45 years after the Battle of Yavin in the film A New Hope  After watching A Force Awakens, which takes place around 15 years earlier I had thought that there was some time travel going on that gave the Star Wars story group an out if things went wrong with their progressive activism, but I’m now convinced that it’s too late.  Disney executives have made progressive concepts their priority which has ruined Star Wars forever, they can’t go back now—they are too committed.  Here is how The Crucible went and is officially the way that Han Solo and the other characters of the George Lucas canon rode off into the sunset of storytelling. 

http://www.starwarstimeline.net/

When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes–and far deadlier consequences.

Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.

I have praised George Lucas often because I think he’s a great filmmaker.   He is too liberal for me, but I respect him greatly.  He does have a black wife, which I don’t think is a big deal and he supports Obama.  I gave high praise for his film Red Tails because it was an important story that needed to be told.   When he sold Star Wars to Disney he did it because he was 70 and wanted to retire—but he had a massive company with over 2000 employees.  It would have been better for Star Wars if Lucas would have just maintained control of his property, but then he couldn’t just let his employees rot—at least in his mind.  So he sold Star Wars to a corporation he thought might preserve it, and washed his hands of the responsibility of being a major employer.  I can understand all that.  I thought it was a good move so long as Disney respected what George Lucas had built.

There is a lot more of George Lucas in Han Solo than in any other character I think.  I’m sure George would say that he’s Artoo Detoo, or Yoda and that Star Wars is all about Luke Skywalker.  But Han Solo is the old drag racer that Lucas used to be—and in many ways still is.  I have read hundreds of Star Wars novels, most of them have Han Solo in the stories so I know the character very well—and he’s what George Lucas wanted to be.  And let me say, Han Solo would have never had a wife during A New Hope.  He had a long time girlfriend who was a drug addict prior to meeting Princess Leia, but he was not a sleep around.  He wanted to be as far away from attachments as possible to protect himself from the obligation of maintaining those relationships and violating his opportunities for freedom.  He wanted nothing more to limit his loyalties to his Wookie friend Chewbacca and to travel the galaxy in his hot rod Millennium Falcon.  Much of his gruffness toward others was an act, just as he deliberately kept the Millennium Falcon looking like a wreck to disguise the power within it—the ship was the embodiment of Han Solo himself.  Solo would have never had a wife, and once he did, he would have never left her. Han Solo is not the kind of character who gets drunk on Nar Shaddaa and wakes up with a wife.  Han Solo was the embodiment of all the cowboys that George Lucas grew up loving as a kid, and he created a character that modern kids could look up to.  That’s why he was always my favorite character, so it was very easy for me to see the revisionist history that Disney was attempting to perform without getting caught.  Only, they got caught.  I know too much about all this stuff not to see it.  I know Star Wars not just from the surface but the structure of it—where it all started from the perspective of the Joseph Campbell Foundation.  I was a member way back when George Lucas was on the Board with Campbell’s wife Jean running things.  I’m not just a fan boy who didn’t want to see Han Solo killed in The Force Awakens.  I’ve studied history and I know the impact of mythology, and why politics seeks to capture stories to control mass populations.  That’s what Disney is doing with Han Solo, destroying him so that they can rebuild him in a progressive way to satisfy their political activism.

Star Wars fans really want to like The Force Awakens.  I’m one of them.  My opinions as of now are in the extreme minority.  Just like a religion, when people find out something is wrong with a mythic device that contains all their foundation thoughts, people tend to get defensive—and some of that could be heard on the broadcast I did with Matt Clark on WAAM radio.  But being in the minority does not make me wrong.  A million fools cannot erase a truth and what Disney is doing will bite them in the ass—because they are changing essential portions of the Star Wars mythology to satisfy current political concerns.  But those concerns will change over the next 60 years and these gay subplots will seem silly to future readers—especially when they seek out the original stories under George Lucas and compare the activism that occurred under Disney.  Disney could have made a lot of money and done something really good by just leaving Star Wars alone and letting the profits from the endeavor follow.  But they chose to be activists politically—for progressive reasons.  Executives at Lucasfilm and Disney looked at Han Solo and noticed that he was a strong, traditional white male, and they wanted to dirty him up.  So they gave him a wife that he was cheating on, and she was a woman of color to make her more of a victim.  Then they had Han leave Leia in A Force Awakens to return to smuggling as if that was all Han Solo was ever good for without his marriage to a woman of stature and prestige.  They purposely muddied up the character to make a point and create more social diversity because that is their value system.  And that is why the Star Wars stories for me ended with The Crucible, a New York Times bestseller that has as much value to me as the novel Lord of the Rings, or The Bridges of Madison County.  Disney by corporate design to elevate minorities, gays, and women in their stories to appear more diverse, politically, took the strongest character in the Star Wars mythology and erased his essence with a revised canon that makes him into a scumbag more relatable to modern audiences.  We are living in an age where a lot of children cannot relate to a Han Solo type, a man who stays with his wife and is loyal to a fault. So Disney tried to weaken the character to appeal to younger audiences—but all they did was cause trouble for themselves.  I’m not the only fan who will reject their product.  Many others over the years to come will follow and Disney will only have themselves to blame.

For me this whole exercise has provided proof of something I’ve long suspected, that mythologies over time are radically redesigned by politics in all cultures to justify the failures of social mismanagement.   The Bible has certainly been altered over the years to reflect the values of the Roman Empire, and the churches of Europe who wanted to use religion as a natural extension of that imperial control.  Modern progressives are trying constantly to re-write history from the vantage point of the conquered Indian to erase the merits of cowboy capitalism in the West.  And China prohibits proper archaeological study of their many pyramid-shaped mounds to suppress the real history of their ancient culture.  Those are just a few examples.  And right in front of our faces we have watched Disney revise something in our lifetimes in spite of the many witnesses.  I read just the other day a defense of the movie A Force Awakens straying from the original plots created in the Expanded Universe by declaring that Solo had a wife in the EU.  No, Solo did not have a wife under the EU.  That plot device was created six months before the release of the 2015 Disney film to justify why Solo left Princess Leia after Return of the Jedi to become a typical white, American male—a Homer Simpson loser who can’t keep his pants on, and is unreliable to family life.  In Disney’s desire to make Star Wars more accessible to women, and minorities, they have deliberately tampered with what made Han Solo one of the most popular characters in the saga—and they did it out of political activism, not intellectual necessity.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Sign up for Second Call Defense here:  http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707  Use my name to get added benefits.

Why You Should Dump Disney Stock Now: The mistakes made on ‘Force Awakens’ will compound the failure of ESPN

On a day where every media outlet in the world is declaring the new Star Wars film an earth shattering success, I’ll take a little pride in being the only one to point at the doom on the horizon.  In a lot of ways I’ll admit hope, as often does happen—more than you’d think—that some executive at Disney will read what I write here and make the market corrections needed—and save the only company in the world truly dedicated to family entertainment.  But they won’t.  Disney is not run by a strong CEO like it was when Walt Disney ran the company years ago.  It’s now run by committees of people—and within those committees are people who seek such a management method because they lack personal courage.  Without personal courage and risk, the market potency of a company and its products surrenders box office appeal, and ultimately profits.  That is essentially what is wrong with the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.  As much as I wanted to like the film—and still do in fact—the business side of my brain sees more alarms going off in the cockpit of this starship than it can withstand.  Destruction is imminent.  So I’m headed for an escape pod before the entire thing falls apart.  If you have Disney stock, you should sell it right now because the value will tank very shortly and it will never recover.

Out of all the possibilities and horsepower of Lucasfilm—with all the talent at their disposal—they as a company elected to treat their long line of New York Times bestselling novels like a story treatment for a Hollywood movie.  The writing was on the wall when they released the comic series The Star Wars two years ago by Dark Horse comics justifying their decisions to mine the expanded universe and re-write it putting their committee stamp on the material proclaiming that what they did was better.  Rather than sit down with a good writer like Lawrence Kasdan is and have him write completely new material, like he did for the Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lucasfilm under Kathy Kennedy decided to make a reboot of A New Hope and populate it with what the “Star Wars Story Group” thought was the greatest hits of the long series of novels which had been produced carefully with George Lucas over two decades.  When they released the comic series showing how the original Star Wars script had evolved over time and necessity they were trying to justify what they were about to do hoping to sell their work as authentic.  What they did was infinitely disappointing.  At that point in time I had been buying all the comics and books I could get and was reading them all.  But when I realized what was happening, I just stopped waiting to see if Disney would do as I feared and just mine the stories that meant something very wonderful to many of the hard-core fans, or if they’d actually continue the story into new territory—which for me was the only justifiable option.   They picked the most lazy path possible at a great insult to the fans who kept the market value of Star Wars alive for so long.

The Force Awakens of course made a lot of money—it shattered records that Hollywood may never see again.  There was tremendous pent-up multi generational desire to see a new Star Wars film. So everyone who could went to see the movie over its opening weekend.  If I didn’t know better I would have thought it was a good movie–it had all the elements present, but it was clearly missing something.  That something was the conviction that a risk taking proprietor brings to a project—a leader who has put their reputation and soul on the line to make a product which clearly marked the first two Star Wars films—was missing.  The makers of The Force Awakens were happy young people writing stories from the comfort of Lucasfilm employment and the politics of the very progressive city of San Francisco.  Like spoiled brats driving their dad’s Mercedes out for a night at the country club to socialize at a charity function thinking they were saving the world—they made Star Wars: The Force Awakens without taking any real risks and mining the material of risk takers who came before them hoping that nobody would notice.  I did, and so did many other hard-core Star Wars fans upon leaving the theater for the first time.  When the fun dies down and these fans will think about what they’ve seen, Disney will find that they now have a dreadfully divided audience because of their choices which will dramatically affect the market share potential of all the future Star Wars films.  It will hurt their book sales, their merchandise, and their box office take for all subsequent films.  What they essentially did was brought Star Wars down to the level of the latest Star Trek movies—or the Avengers films.  They might make decent money, but Disney executives are planning on insane money—and they’ll need it to survive—because other aspects of Disney’s business portfolio has been wavering in these changing economic times.

Here’s how the Hollywood Reporter announced the pending doom on Friday December 18th as The Force Awakens opened to hungry fans across the world:

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens made $57 million domestically Thursday, enough to set a record but not to satiate Wall Street’s fears over Walt Disney’s television business.

In midday trading on Friday, Disney shares were off 4 percent, twice that of the broader markets, as the conglomerate was the topic of at least two negative research notes in the past two days.

On Friday, BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield downgraded Disney to “sell” and put a $90 price target on the stock, suggesting it will fall about 17 percent in the next 52 weeks or so.

“Even The Force cannot protect ESPN,” Greenfield wrote, accusing management of “overpaying for sports rights based on overly aggressive multichannel video subscriber projections.”

Greenfield says Disney’s cable network operating income will shrink in fiscal-year 2017, causing total Disney operating income to be flat.

He also says Disney damaged its long-term prospects for cable in general “by aggressively licensing content to SVOD platforms such as Netflix to prop up near-term earnings.”

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/walt-disney-stock-tumbles-as-850171

While the numbers look impressive at first glance, because of the changing market of the other business interests, such as ESPN and how cable subscribers are dumping their subscriptions in favor of Internet service for their smart phones the media empire of Disney is too reliant on Star Wars to save it from the downsides it’s facing.  The Marvel movies are beginning to fade as the newness of them is wearing away.  By the time Captain America: Civil War hits in 2016, the franchise will be in clear decline as a box office force.  The savor was always going to be Star Wars—and now they’ve screwed that up dividing the fan’s loyalties between a re-tread and the authentic novels.

It is always dangerous to base a movie off a book, because the reader often sees things differently than a film’s director.  As long as a movie producer stays close to the source material, often things are forgiven.  But regarding Star Wars, where the franchise was kept alive with cooperation between Del Rey publishing and Lucasfilm in close contact with George Lucas approving story details the novels were like the Bible and took on a meaning that Disney obviously didn’t understand.  After all, they had been re-writing great literary classics for years, so they had no problem changing things around to suit their market appraisal for the films they wanted to produce.

By insisting that the movies were cannon and not the books which were designed to connect the original movies with fresh material ultimately created by individual authors under the guidance of Lucasfilm—the creative team behind The Force Awakens assumed incorrectly that fans would forgive them.  Some will, but not everyone, and for Disney to succeed in this venture they needed everyone.  And when the smoke clears around The Force Awakens, they won’t have everyone.  And that means financial doom on the horizon within the next five years for Disney as a company.   Bob Iger will leave the next CEO at Disney with a terrible burden and there will be no recovery from it. With other aspects of the company losing money, such as ESPN based on inflated sports contracts, it needs a new explosion in growth which Star Wars was supposed to bring.

The Force Awakens felt like a small movie after reading about gigantic events in the novels over the years.  The sheer scale of the Star Wars novels would have had enormous production costs to duplicate on film.  I’m sure Lucasfilm made the decision to do what they did on The Force Awakens based on the vast number of characters that were in the Star Wars novels—which ultimately brings up the question should a novel be cannon or is the movie a superior product?  I clearly think what is written in a novel is the cannon in every case.  Movies are dumbed-down versions of books.  I can’t think of too many books that were made into movies that were overshadowed by the film version.   Star Wars started as a fresh movie experience, but it evolved into a literary journey which became much more powerful than the original films.  Lucasfilm made the mistake by trying to reverse that trend, and make a movie by committee instead of individuals and throwing out parts of the series which were too big to project on the silver screen.  Rather than trying to do that, they watered down a product that millions had fallen in love with and banked Disney’s future on the result.

Taken by itself Star Wars within Disney will hold its own financially.  The films will do fine, the merchandise will be respectable, and the other intellectual work will likely still sell for years to come.  But because of where the company as a whole is, with ESPN failing, the Avengers movies in decline, and the lack of new musicals coming from their children films every three years-Disney has serious problems.  It would have taken all the Star Wars fans to save them—and they clearly don’t have them all.  The Force Awakens proves it.  That problem won’t show itself immediately, but will begin to show up in their repeat business numbers within a month of the release.

Kathy Kennedy should have known better. On Twitter the Star Wars people put out a tag line when The Force Awakens opened showing Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon declaring “we’re home.”   They were clearly marketing Harrison Ford’s return to the role of Han Solo to push the box office numbers over the top.  I replied to Kennedy’s tweet the reality of what I felt.  I said,” Yeah, we’re only home for the funeral.”  It was stunning to me with all their build-up that they killed off Han Solo, so to me, The Force Awakens became like going home to a funeral to visit family you hadn’t seen in a while—and likely may never see after.   We all knew that Han Solo would die in the movies at some point in time, but in the books he was still performing heroic acts 45 years after A New Hope, so if they had not gone back in time and killed off Han Solo and could have kept the heroics of his novel adventures intact in the canon, it would have been much more digestible.  Instead they not only killed Han Solo, but the best that hard-core Star Wars fans had fallen in love with–an epic story on a truly galactic scale.  What they gave us in The Force Awakens was the death of a favorite character and a highlight reel of the novels—stories we already knew—all chopped up and spit out with new names and a much smaller frame of reference.   Then to insist that an inferior product was the new canon spelled huge problems for the future of Star Wars which will compound into a much worse situation than what Disney is seeing currently with ESPN.   And I wish it wasn’t the case, because I love Disney and really wanted it to succeed.  But they made all the mistakes that they shouldn’t have—and arrogantly stood by those mistakes to the bitter end.

I don’t know if there is a way that Disney could fix the situation now.  I’m afraid it’s too late.  But maybe there is a way they can appeal to the hard-core fans before things get out of control.  They should try for the sake of everyone—mostly themselves.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Sign up for Second Call Defense here:  http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707  Use my name to get added benefits.

‘The Force Awakens’ Killed off Han Solo: Why the prequels were a lot better and how Disney blew it

Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssed off, that is the feeling I have walking out of The Force Awakens.  

Sadly, the news I was so excited about three years ago regarding the new Star Wars film is tragic—the worst of what I feared might happen, did.  Taken by itself, The Force Awakens is a very good movie, the acting is good, the special effects everything that you’d expect, the directing, the writing all very good—then there’s the music by John Williams—upper level wonder.  Unfortunately for Disney, Star Wars is much more than one movie now and Disney did exactly the wrong thing.  Like rumored, they abandoned the Expanded Universe and they killed off Han Solo in the first movie of a three-part trilogy which was my favorite character.  While on the business side I can understand why they did—Harrison Ford was 73 at the start of The Force Awakens, so it’s not a bad idea to start planting the seeds for future characters.  However, killing off Solo without having the context of the greater story developed over the last two decades is extremely problematic for the Star Wars franchise.  Here’s why.

About 15 years ago a super Star Wars fan was talking to me about the novels that came out every few months and wondered why I wasn’t reading them.  I explained that if the books didn’t come straight from the mind of George Lucas that I didn’t consider them part of the Star Wars canon.  However, the novels leaned very much on the character of Han Solo and his marriage to Princess Leia and their three children Jaina Jacen and Anakin.  So figured I’d give the books a try.  I had tried the Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn and couldn’t accept it, but decided to try again with Vector Prime.  It was a great book—although Chewbacca died—and I was hooked.  I have since read most of the Expanded Universe novels which have greatly over-shadowed the original movies in sheer content and emotional story arcs.

I thought there was a whale of a story developing at the end of Apocalypse involving The Abeloth and that The Force Awakens would be about that massive galactic conflict—which would have been great.  Disney could have given the hard-core Star Wars fans what they wanted while giving a new generation of fans what they wanted.  The old characters could have faded out leaving the new very strong character of Jaina Solo to have filled the boots of her father nicely—and that would have been appropriate.  Everyone could have had what they wanted out of Star Wars.  But that’s not what Disney did with the help of J.J. Abrams, and Kathleen Kennedy.  They thought they knew better than all the minds who had been guiding the Star Wars stories through three decades of New York Times best sellers so they screwed with the story with a progressive agenda which was the worst of my fears.

If they had stayed with the Expanded Universe storyline, they could have still had a Latino lead character, a black character and a strong female lead to reach all their target demographics.  But they did more than that—they weakened Han Solo considerably and made him a self-sacrificial parent who threw himself on the sword of Kylo Ren at the end.  He and his marriage to Leia obviously went bad and the kids were damaged leading to his son (Ben) turning to evil.  Suddenly the very strong characters of the Expanded Universe were modernized into dysfunctional parents who had screwed up their children and felt guilty about it.  At the end of The Force Awakens, “General Leia” is alone with no signs of family—except the daughter Rey to find out who she truly is.  This is probably the most disappointing aspect of The Force Awakens—in the novels the son of Han, Jacen falls to the dark side over many books and his intentions were always good.  Han stayed with his wife for many years and they had a pretty good family life.  Han was always a rock solid person in those stories giving Star Wars geeks the father figure they didn’t have in real life—and it worked well in a mythological way.  The daughter Jaina was the new light of the next generation—The Sword of the Jedi.

J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan essentially took the big themes of the novels and retold the story of Jacen’s fall to the dark side moving around the names of the characters and having him confront his sister—in an epic lightsaber battle.  Knowing all that felt cheap to me.  It took Star Wars from an epic pinnacle of the highest mythological order and dumbed it down to be simply another Avengers movie.  It was fun to look at, but the content was certainly watered down from the types of bold stories that were told in the novels.  I will probably see future Star Wars movies just to see what they do and how they look—like I would a superhero type of film—the many times the Batman story has been told, or Spiderman—even Superman.  But with Star Wars, Disney had a unique opportunity to build on a massive story arc, and they screwed it up—rehashing the old by putting their own stamp on it in a way that did a disservice to the fans who helped carry the franchise for so long with their loyal support.  Clearly the emphasis by Disney and Kathleen Kennedy was to weaken the original characters from the bold embodiments of their youth into guilt driven losers in the future—which might make them relatable to a larger audience who feels the same anxieties.  Of course they had to plant the seeds of an interracial romance—which felt forced—and was distracting.  Han returned to his days as a smuggler instead of the reliable family man that he was in the books.  Luke was in hiding feeling guilt for creating Kylo Ren though his failure in teaching future Jedi—which in the books Luke had built an entirely new Jedi Order.  In the books all the lead characters were strong and determined personalities who had suffered through unimaginable sorrows, but were still people a reader could lean on and trust to do the right thing in the end.  In The Force Awakens it is obvious that the all the old characters were flawed, especially Han Solo.  This was obviously a conscious choice to make him more relatable to the modern viewing audience instead of just trusting the story the way it had evolved over the years with great success.

There has been an effort from The Alliance to Save the Star Wars Legends Expanded Universe shown at the link below to save the storyline of these movie from just this kind of misery.  But, Disney didn’t listen and they’ll pay for that.  The Force Awakens will make a lot of money, but it won’t be as much as they could have made.  They just handed the next generation a bunch of loser characters not quite sure of themselves putting an emphasis on progressive values instead of American traditional ones.  The Force Awakens is about sacrifice and the greater good whereas a theme which always ran through the original trilogy was individualism and following a personal bliss.  Han Solo as the individual always had the answers to save the Luke and Leias of the galaxy from their altruistic tendencies.  In The Force Awakens it is Han Solo that needs saving from his guilt over failing their son in ways that aren’t yet shown.  Essentially the decision to turn Han Solo from an Ayn Rand type of character into a Shakespearian tragedy was meant to erase his lineage of strength into something modern audiences could identify with.

https://www.facebook.com/AlliancetoSavetheStarWarsLegendsExpandedUniverse

http://twibbon.com/support/star-wars-legends-never-die

The result for me, and I’m sure many others, is that I completely reject these new stories by Disney.   I just came out of seeing a premier showing before it opened officially on December 18th 2015 and my sorted emotions tell me that this story in The Force Awakens is not real.  I can’t accept it as cannon.  It’s actually pretty stupid.  It represents another case of activist filmmakers trying to plant progressive Huffington Post values into a very traditional American story for the sake of unifying the world around common values.  To do that they dumbed down the American influences of individuality, and created a much more “inclusive” universe that was the obvious intent they had in making the film.  People like Arianna Huffington will love this new Star Wars.  John Wayne would have hated it.

I can deal with the death of my favorite character.  What I have a problem with is weakening their presence out of a desire to appeal to a weakened society—where movies are made by committee rather than by strong individuals.  The Force Awakens obviously understands that few people have intact families these days and that people can’t relate to the type of strength that Han Solo projected which has carried the franchise quite frankly for forty years.  They made a conscious decision to weaken Solo—hand over the Millennium Falcon to a “girl” (his daughter) and reflect the values of the present global community instead of the values of the story itself.  They cheapened Star Wars in ways that will be very costly in the years to come.  So while the movie was beautiful to look at and had many elements that are respectable on the surface, the underlining message was feeble and a tremendous disservice to the fans who have stuck with the story religiously all these years.  Star Wars had a chance to be above modern politics, but the filmmakers failed to carry it to those lofty heights.  Instead, they surrendered to the currents of modernism—and the movie shows it desperately.  The movie felt to me like a fake and something to reject—which is not what Disney wanted, I’m sure.  Forever for me, and many like me, there will always be the Expanded Universe where Han didn’t leave his wife and fail his children with some “force bending” scheme of time to save his daughter from the wrath of her brother, Han’s failed son—and the Jedi master Luke who lost his pupil to the dark side.  I’m sure there is a story of redemption in the next episodes, but by then—who cares.  Disney already screwed up the story with renamed characters and repeated themes which were already told in the novels years ago.  And in that respect, The Force Awakens fails in every way that it never intended.

The prequels were a LOT better.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707

Robert Tracinski, Rich Hoffman and Matt Clark on WAAM: Why ‘Star Wars’ is better than ‘Star Trek’

Matt Clark had me on his show to actually co-host with him as we spoke to Robert Tracinski who writes for The Federalist. He had written an interesting article about how it was unlikely that J.J. Abrams could screw up the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, so long as he stuck with the formula. There were some condescending aspects to Tracisnski’s article which I was willing to overlook, because he was right about a lot of things. But more than anything Tracisnski had been dismissive of the original trilogy as not being very good—which I thought was odd. So I was eager to talk to him. It only took a few moments into the interview however to learn the root of his issues—he was a Star Trek fan and had only come to Star Wars through his children. His position was that Star Trek was philosophically superior to Star Wars and that these new movies were kid stuff that he was enjoying with his children. Listen to that interview here:

I don’t care much for Star Trek, to me it is the United Nations in space. While Robert Tracinski is not a liberal and is a pretty committed Objectivist, which is Ayn Rand’s philosophy—it was clear to me quickly why Robert didn’t like Star Wars much in his article. I disagree with him on a number of topics regarding the formula of Star Wars, or its appeal. I think the Star Wars films are deeply philosophical; especially The Empire Strikes Back—much more so than Star Trek. I mean, people are not lining up across the world to see the latest Star Trek movie, and Star Wars isn’t as popular as it is because it’s just adults living out their childhoods once again through a movie. It’s more complicated than that. As we were talking to Tracinski, because of his background with Ayn Rand I kept wondering if I had met him someplace before, so I wanted to cut him some slack. Everyone comes to things in their own time and if he came to Star Wars late in life through his kids—so be it. One aspect that Tracinski got right in his article was the perception that Han Solo is the key to the franchise—so I stuck to that topic in our conversation.

Matt and I spent the first segment of his Saturday WAAM show talking about Disney and their progressive activism with a gentle warning about messing with the formula of Star Wars and the impact that might have on their massive investment. Matt and I love Disney—the Uncle Walt version. I love that Disney is a family friendly entertainment group—so I am willing to overlook a little of their liberal activism. Something that Robert Tracinski did bring up on his show that was true.  George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were the best conservative filmmakers coming out of the 80s. I personally think they were both seduced by Bill Clinton in the 90s and have lost their minds since. The reason their early films were so successful was because they all had conservative leanings to them. Once both directors had achieved their monstrous success and essentially stepped away from the Objectivist roots of their film careers, their movies started making a lot less money. Without question George Lucas was at least attracted to Ayn Rand in his early days—when she was at the height of her influence—and Han Solo was a character that represented that struggle within George. As he become more liberal with age and success—perhaps feeling a little guilty that all his liberal employees were constantly berating him for his capitalist tendencies, he softened up on his stance for individualism and began to accept collectivism to a much higher degree, which was clearly represented in the prequel  films—which were noticeably absent of the Han Solo type of character.

Where I disagree with Tracinski about the prequel films is that I don’t think George Lucas ever intended those films to be successes. They were dark movies about the failure of a Republic—and have great political merit to them. They are very philosophical from the position of how poorly constructed philosophies can destroy a body of government. Even though Lucas had been moving to the left—politically, his message about the failure of groups to detect evil, and how institutional failure is indicative of all government cycles is powerful stuff that set the stage for some pretty deep storytelling. As much as people dismiss the prequel films as silly, they are important in the larger scope of the intended message. The movies did lack heroics on the scale of a Han Solo, but that was on purpose. A lot of characters including Yoda and Obi-wan Kenobi made mistakes that they spent the rest of their lives correcting. So the films were never supposed to be heroic repeats of the original trilogy. For that story Han Solo was the savior, he kept Luke alive, married his sister Leia and that set up the events of these new films. Solo is an Ayn Rand character and Disney even with all their activism against conservative causes—can’t ignore that the magic of Star Wars isn’t Luke Skywalker, or anything about the Force—it’s about Han Solo’s position against hooky religions and ancient weapons not being as competent as a good blaster at your side.

Just a few days before Matt and I had our radio show together Harrison Ford was on with Jimmy Kimmel dressed up for Halloween as a hot dog. It was a funny segment and of course Ford was asked about the new Star Wars film. I thought his comments were interesting to say the least. He stated that nobody would be disappointed—at all. That was a remarkable statement considering what’s at stake. He knows the potential cost of over-anticipated hype—so his comments had me very curious in relation to Disney’s strategy going forward. Han Solo is going to be playing a larger role in Star Wars than he has in the past largely because the character tests well demographically. His children will without question be the subject of the new stories but Disney will find every opportunity to insert a younger Han Solo into the movies at every juncture. To be successful at that, Disney will have no choice but to adopt the obvious aspects of Han Solo’s Objectivism view points—his natural conservatism and love of capitalist endeavors if they want Star Wars to continue being successful.

After Matt’s show I spent time at my children’s house going trick or treating with my grandkids—and kids. Late into the night my oldest daughter and I spent time talking about Han Solo and how it seems obvious now that Disney will find a way to put him in the stand alone films as much as possible just to use him as a springboard to success. Like Robert Tracinski and I spoke about on Matt’s show, without Han Solo, I think the Star Wars saga crashes and burns. If they try to turn him into a sacrificial collectivist Disney will lose a lot of money because people will reject the premise. The ticket buying public will only accept the Objectivist Han Solo—and nothing less—the hero who acts in his own self-interest. Even though the moment at the end of A New Hope was intended to show that Solo was able to act for others, the need to save Luke at the last moment was out of Solo’s self-interest because he was starting to like the kid. Like I said, Star Wars is a lot more philosophical than people give it credit for, and I’d think that as much as Tracinski likes Ayn Rand, that he’d prefer Star Wars over the United Nations in space—Star Trek and all that “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” crap. Screw Spock and his pointy ears—he’s a damn collectivist. Solo is a rugged, gun slinging individualist who acts out of his own self-interest. That’s why Star Wars is better than Star Trek.

We’ll see what happens, time will tell. It was a good conversation that was worth listening to, especially given what Star Wars will mean when it opens in a few weeks. There will be no escape; the opening of The Force Awakens will impact just about everyone no matter where they live. It will be impossible to not notice something about it as the merchandising around Christmas will be everywhere. Just watch the Duracell commercial shown above. Star Wars will literally be everywhere in just a few weeks of this writing. There will be nothing like it ever—history is being made both commercially and philosophically. The question will be whether or not The Force Awakens will be as anticipated on the 19th of December as it was on the 18th after people start seeing the movie. To be as successful as Disney needs it to be people will need to see the film several times. And to have that kind of power over the mind of fans—Han Solo will have to be a part of it with an Objectivist approach—otherwise the whole thing falls apart. It’s not the lightsaber battles and space antics that make Star Wars so great—it’s the Objectivist leanings of its basic premise:

Han Solo—“marching into the detention area is not what I had in mind.”

Luke Skywalker—“but she’s rich.”

Han Solo—“How rich?”

Luke Skywalker—“More wealth than you can imagine.”

Han Solo—“I don’t know, I can imagine quite a bit.”

Luke Skywalker—“you’ll get it.”

Han Solo—“I better!”

Luke Skywalker—“You will!”

Han Solo—“Alright kid, what’s your plan?”

That’s Star Wars—it’s an Objectivist love fest designed before George Lucas was overly liberalized. It’s also why twice during the broadcast with Matt that I uttered to his millions and millions of listeners—“Han shot first!” When Lucas changed Star Wars in 1997 to have the bounty hunter Greedo shoot at Han first in the Mos Eisley cantina fans were angry. It was a liberalized mistake for Lucas to cave under the pressure from the liberal film community to make Han Solo not appear as such a blood thirsty killer. But Solo acting out of self-interest shot first because that is the nature of his character—he’s an Ayn Rand survivalist and the heart of what makes Star Wars great.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Listen to The Blaze Radio Network by CLICKING HERE.

The Best Thing About ‘The Force Awakens’: John Williams

Matt Clark and I over the weekend did a rather important show about the new Star Wars picture and the radicalism of Disney from its employees based on an article I wrote several weeks ago. You will be able to listen to that broadcast on WAAM radio soon. However, Matt had on a guest that was late to the call at the bottom of the hour and needed to fill some time while his producer got him on the phone. So we had to come up with a bit of off-script content to bridge the gap. I brought up something I had been thinking about a lot in anticipation of the new Force Awakens Star Wars film based on persistent fears that the expectations were just so high. There was a real danger of walking away disappointed. I realized after a lot of thought that the primary reason I was looking forward to the new Star Wars film was for one simple reason—I want to hear new Star Wars music from John Williams. Everything else is literally secondary. To understand why, watch this old 20/20 segment about John Williams from 1983.

I was a strange kid—which should have been assumed based on a casual reading of my millions and millions of words. There are a lot of people who get paid decent amounts of money for writing far less than I do about far, far fewer topics. Yet I know that I have to write otherwise my head would explode with too many thoughts. I have too many hobbies, too many passions, too many philosophical quandaries that reside at the root of politics that if I don’t get them out and onto some kind of page to look at I may well explode with enthusiasm. So I have to write because I opened the door to something when I was very young that I have never closed. I only wanted to be one thing when I grew up—but I was caught between two worlds really. There was no other job that I wanted to be involved with than a director of movies. The trouble was I also had a pretty powerful physical aptitude. Creative types tend to enjoy escaping from reality and creating what they do in a vacuum of contemplation—whereas I didn’t. I wanted to be in the thick of reality at all times, which flew in the face of the film industry. But at age 13 in 1983 when that 20/20 episode came out on John Williams I wanted to be a film director so that I could work with people like him. What I learned eventually, and much later that there really isn’t anyone like John Williams, the great composer and conductor for some of the most powerful and important movies our American culture has ever produced. So that 20/20 episode was very important to me—I watched it over and over again on a new device called a VHS video tape. I had recorded it and showed it to every member of my family whenever there was some gathering trying to share with them the passion I felt for John Williams music. Most of them didn’t understand.

John Williams is the most important musical personality of the millennia—more so than Beethoven, Mozart, Bach or anybody else. Many years later as I worked at Cincinnati Milicron in Oakley, just north of downtown Cincinnati I listened to all those composers religiously on NPR radio while I worked as a tear-down person for rebuilt machine lathes. The other workers had a typical unionized approach to work, they watched the break clock closely—paced out their day making sure not to produce too much too quickly, and they listened to a lot of classic rock. I wasn’t adverse to rock and roll—there is a certain magic to it blaring from a radio in a machine shop—a freedom that is healthy and defiant in all the right ways—but its not very intellectual. Rock music is very linier—which has never been something I was interested in—rock music equals a can of beer resulting in unstable personal relationships. I enjoyed it for its ambiance, not for the lifestyles that draped off it—the limited vision of the world and lack-luster ambition typical of its fans. So I listened to my radio tuned to NPR’s classical station in Cincinnati and listened to the greats for hours on end while I worked. I was the only one who did this within the entire facility which eventually was dismantled and is now covered by the upgraded development occurring around the Rockwood shopping complex. I have always thought that if more people listened to that classical station with me that the employees would have been smart enough to see the writing on the wall years ago, and Cincinnati Milicron would not have eventually closed down their Oakley facility—but that’s a story we’ve covered before. For this purpose, I considered classical music to be the supreme type of music a human being can listen to—and among them at the very top is John Williams. There is nobody better—and I’ve listened to them all.

Most classical composers wrote their music for some play centuries before they ever appeared on NPR radio. So to me it was not deficient to look at John Williams as one who will eventually surpass the memory of all the obvious musical minds in the future. Movies are modern plays, so a film score is tomorrow’s classical music that will play on NPR radio in the future, all the time. These days however if anybody happened to look at my iPod they would only see two primary names on the entire 10G device, John Williams and Hans Zimmer. There are a few others, but 95% of my iPod is filled with those two musical film composers. Of those two, Hans Zimmer is clearly the student of the master, John Williams. I don’t see them as comparable in any way—other than they both make music. Nobody writes music like John Williams—I listen to him nearly every day in some fashion or another and I never get tired of the way he strings together compositions.

As we were sitting at the bottom of the hour trying to get Matt’s guest on the air, I thought about why I was eager for The Force Awakens by thinking about what I liked most about the recently released trailer—the final one before the film opens on December 18th. It was the scene from a series of clips where the Millennium Falcon was entering hyperspace from the inverted direction speeding into blue light accompanied musically by an upgrade from the previous Han and Leia theme. That was fresh music made just for this trailer and it was stunning in how it helped invoke curiosity. John Williams understands just the right notes to put on a page for what is happening on the screen. The way he tells stories through music is extraordinary, and it was his music that I wanted to hear most regarding the new film.

I meant it when I said it on the air, the Disney Company could put hand puppets on the screen for The Force Awakens and I wouldn’t care so long as I had yet another opportunity to listen to a film score by the great John Williams. He enjoys making swashbuckler type of compositions and really thrives in the type of story that Star Wars is, so it typically brings out the best in him. If the story is not something I can get into, I will at least enjoy the John Williams music—which is what I am looking forward to most. It’s not often that the entire world will attend a musical concert that is classical in nature. Literally the entire planet will be attending a John Williams concert when The Force Awakens opens just ahead of Christmas 2015. And there is nothing negative about that.

Music doesn’t need language—it transcends social limitations and reaches for the pit of our very souls for understanding. Based on that 20/20 clip, it was obvious then that John Williams was on a crash course with destiny as the greatest composer of all time—at least over the last 1000 years—because there has been nobody like him ever. He’s just the right mix of everything musical. No matter how much I listened to Bach, or Mozart on NPR radio, when they would occasionally put on some John Williams music—from any movie—it was clear that a master had assembled the notes. With that in mind there isn’t much Disney can do to ruin Star Wars so long as John Williams is the man behind the music. Star Wars will always be good so long as the music from those movies are made by the 83-year-old composer who was always ahead of his time and is the best that ever occupied nostalgia. Film music is considered low-brow entertainment among the art critics of our day—but that’s because they’re in the back of the train. Eventually those art analyzers will catch up to what I’m saying today—that John Williams is the primary reason that millions will love the new film and it will be the largest and most diverse opening to an orchestral concert in the history of earth—and that is enough to give anyone goose bumps because the impact it will have on shaping our future generations will be paramount. I suspect that The Force Awakens score will be the grand fortissimo to a long and prosperous career.   But more than that, it will be the last act of a brilliant mind, who would rather write alone all day behind a piano than do anything else—which is why he has been and will always be the greatest.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Listen to The Blaze Radio Network by CLICKING HERE.

The Millennium Falcon is my Thing: Wonderful news from Disney’s D23 Expo

Stunning is all I have to say about the news out of Disney regarding Star Wars.  Everyone who reads here and knows me understands that I am a Star Wars fan.  They know that my primary love in life is that of mythology and the power of it.  That one of my great personal teachers was the maverick professor at Sarah Lawrence College—Joseph Campbell and that I spent many of my formative years associating with the Joseph Campbell Foundation of which George Lucas was one of the Board of Directors.  And I have said on many occasions that I think the new Star Wars films, and all the books and media that will follow will reshape our modern culture not only regionally, but globally. There is tremendous power in Star Wars and Disney’s marketing machine will only accentuate that in glorious ways that only capitalism can fully extract.  The news around the upcoming film The Force Awakens is exciting.  But that’s not all, a whole slate of new films following that one are upcoming.  All the mythology that the previous six Star Wars films have produced over the last 30 years will soon be eclipsed by the six new films in the pipeline produced over the next six years.  And supporting those will be all new novels, video games, commercial products but best of all a new Star Wars land at the Disney parks.  Click here to read some of my previous work on this topic.  I predicted this a long time ago in a galaxy not so far away. 

For me the biggest news of this century which has stirred in me a delight that is quite epic is the information that not only will Disney build a 14 acre Star Wars specific land in both the Anaheim location and Orlando location, but that a full-sized Millennium Falcon will be present.  That is a game changer in these films that I have been wanting to see my entire life.  And now I’m going to get to see it.   At the D23 Expo over this last weekend Bob Iger released the details and showed the concept art and that just did it for me.  I have been in love with the Millennium Falcon since I was very young and it may actually be stronger today than even when I was a kid because not only through the movies, but the many novels, I have spent a lot of time on that ship in my head—and I completely understand the world it traverses through.  I am very happy that Disney as a company has done precisely what I said they would do with the Star Wars acquisition when they first bought it in 2012 and at the heart of it they intend to keep the Millennium Falcon a central character to the entire saga.

Honestly if Jesus Christ came again to judge the living and the dead on judgment day and I had a chance to attend that or to go see the Millennium Falcon in real life, I would choose the Falcon.  I am pretty stoic when it comes to controlling my emotions.  I don’t get crazy about many things—especially sad things. But I do allow myself to feel elation over positive things, and I really don’t know how I will handle seeing a Millennium Falcon in real life—seriously.  When the place opens I may take a week of vacation just to reside in that land day after day soaking up everything—because I love the Star Wars mythology from top to bottom—and within that world I have a love of the Millennium Falcon that is central to that passion.  Still to this day, out of all the successes and experiences I’ve had—which are quite extraordinary, things I’ve won and achieved—one of the best memories I have ever had was seeing the real life model of the Millennium Falcon in the Smithsonian in 1997.  I really felt when I put my hands against the glass that I had died and gone to heaven.  It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever put my eyes on.  Given that context I really don’t know how I’ll react to seeing a model of the Falcon in full-scale that I can walk up to and see close.

Han Solo is the modern embodiment of the classic western cowboy.  His quick draw pistol is famous within the Star Wars storyline and his super fast Millennium Falcon gives a tip of the hat to two film genres, the classic car hot rod and a gun fighting cowboy.  Those two things are just impossible not to like—and to top that off, the Falcon was a pirate ship within that galaxy—so I’m not the only one who finds the Millennium Falcon appealing.  I was amazed to see Harrison Ford on stage at D23, and that it was Han Solo who made the cut on the new poster for The Force Awakens.  There will be a new film about specifically Han Solo as a young 20 something that will be exciting, so there is a lot of news coming from Disney to be excited about for—particularly for Millennium Falcon fans.  I know how I feel about all this information, so I can’t help but think of the scientific implications of it.

As recently as last week I was thinking of a way to build a real Millennium Falcon as a real usable space vessel moving to and from earth to explore the reaches of space.  I really don’t think we are that far away, and one design with sentimental value is as good as any other.  The Falcon offers a lot of options for deep space travel particularly in its circular design.  A change of scenery is important when spending a lot of time in space, and the Falcon is cleverly designed for just such an experience.

Also announced at D23 was the new photo for Rogue One which showed Felicity Jones as the main actress standing among a group of daredevils and hackers about to steal the Death Star plans leading up to the original Star Wars film,  A New Hope.  As I looked at that I couldn’t help but wonder if she wasn’t playing Bria Tharen who was one of Han Solo’s girl friends from the Expanded Universe.  If she was her back story could easily be a part of the stand alone Han Solo film coming on May 25th 2018.  I’m already in line!  Likely being that young, Han Solo wouldn’t yet have the Millennium Falcon, but I’m sure it will make an appearance in that film as the ship owned by Lando Calrissian.   It is obvious that Disney, knowing the popularity of the vessel is finding ways to put it in most of the new Star Wars films in some support role or another.  There will also be a Boba Fett film and in that story I’m sure he will be chasing around a younger Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon—so there is a theme emerging that is quite justifiable in placing a full-sized Falcon in the center of the new Star Wars land at Disney.

Knowing the effect the Falcon has had on me I shudder to think of what effect it will have on a new generation who can actually walk up and touch it.  I got goose bumps the first time I saw new footage of the Falcon in a hangar on the Star Tours ride in Orlando.  Part of the ride flies off behind the popular vessel in a dog fight and I was blasted with excitement in just seeing it sit there.  For my birthday this year we went to Dave & Busters just so I could fly the Falcon in the video game there exclusive to the popular gaming destination.  But these are all images that take imagination to enjoy.  They are not something you can put your hands on and feel.  Disney is now taking that step and I am emphatically excited about it.  I think the influence it will have on science for years to come will be extraordinary.  These new films will open up the mythology in ways that nobody thought was possible before and the effect they will have on civilization will be extremely powerful.  Being able to reach out and touch it will just make it that much more influential as a mythic device.  So yes, there is a lot of good news floating around out there.  But for me, nothing is more exciting than the D23 news coming out of Disney.  I would pay $100,000 just to see an actual movie prop of the Falcon on set.  I would spend unknown amounts to see one all dressed up at Disney World.  The Millennium Falcon is my thing—and I share that with a lot of other enthusiasts. It was probably the best thing that Disney could have done with Star Wars—and they are just getting started.  I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Listen to The Blaze Radio Network by CLICKING HERE.