Last week while on vacation in California I got to visit the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater, located directly on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The theater opened its doors in 1927 and has been the home to many of the biggest movie premieres of all time, including this one which took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977 and was an instant success. People lined up for blocks to watch the movie, multiple times. By the end of the summer the movie was popular enough that three of the film’s stars had their footprints captured in concrete outside the theater.
On August 3rd, 1977, C-3P0, R2-D2 and Darth Vader had their feet (and signatures) immortalized forever outside the front of Grauman’s.
Here is how it looks today (or at least last week), some 37 years after the event took place. There are tons of prints just outside the theater, but I made a special point of finding and taking a picture of this one.
Some of the most iconic things my wife and I saw at the Special Effects 2 exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry back in 1996 were the movie matte paintings. Long before CGI was affordable, movie special effect wizards used matte paintings to fool audiences. Matte paintings are highly detailed paintings typically done on glass with spots cut out of them. Cameras then shoot through the matte paintings with the actors behind them to give the illusion of depths, or placed in front of them either using a projector or a green screen for sets that were too expensive of impossible to build.
I’m sure you all recognize this one from the Wizard of Oz. As you can see, there is a section missing in the middle where the actors actually walked down a yellow brick road. Everything else in that shot is actually a painting.
Here’s another iconic location that only existed on glass.
That is, of course, the reactor shaft that Darth Vader ultimately throws the Emperor in to at the end of Return of the Jedi.
Matte paintings are still used today, although by and large they have been replaced by computer graphics.
As random things pile up and around my desk at work, eventually they begin to find one another. Take, for example …
I already covered this mini Pac-Man Arcade Cabinet a few weeks ago. Last week, someone stopped by my desk and dropped off the Darth Vader Pez Dispenser. One arm cut out of paper and a little Sharpie work, and the rest is history. I did eventually add a second arm after this photo was taken.
All the high scores on the machine now read VDR.
I thought you guys might dig this poster I made featuring 24 characters from Star Wars a New Hope made to look like the back of the old vintage action figure card backs!
Get your very own copy here at the Christopher Tupa Store.
Flickr user scad92 posted two photos on his Flickr account that revolve around his meeting of Darth Vader and Boba Fett at the Local Mall back in 1980. I remember hearing second-hand about these type of experience, but never in my young life did I have the opportunity to meet the Dark Lord of the Sith and the greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy. If I had heard about this type of appearance, I would have bugged everyone and their grandmother to get them to take me. Especially around the time of Empire Strikes Back, which blew me away.
scad92 was a lucky kid. Here is a the photo from the event plus the goods he scored there.
and here is the merchandise…