May 25, 1977

May 05, 2005
A thought by James Berardinelli

Was that the date when you first saw Star Wars? For me, it wasn't. I'm fond of saying that I saw the film on "Opening Day," but "Opening Day" at the theater I attended was June 15 (the day Star Wars expanded to over 100 theaters). The official first release was, as many fans will testify, May 25, 1977. The movie opened in 32 locations on Wednesday, then expanded to 43 by Friday. Over that Memorial Day weekend, it was playing in two theaters close to me, but I wasn't yet interested enough to bug my parents to take me. Three weeks later, that had changed.

Curiously, my first viewing of Star Wars was at a drive-in movie theater. It is the only film I have a clear memory of seeing in such a venue. I know I went to two other drive-in features. One was Jaws - the first movie I ever saw - and I barely lasted beyond the nude woman swimming before I fell asleep. I can't remember what the other one was. Sadly, by the time I was old enough to take a date to a drive-in movie, there weren't any local drive-ins around. But that's another story.

I saw Star Wars three times during the summer of 1977. But my clearest memories of it were from two years later, when it was re-released in advance of The Empire Strikes Back. By then, I had amassed a large number of toys, had collected the comics, and had finished reading two novels (the adaptation of the movie and Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye). There were several other re-releases of the original movie during the early '80s (one in 1981 - the first version to feature the "Episode IV: A New Hope" caption - and another a few years later), but by then, my love of Star Wars had faded to a dim glow. The affair was brief but passionate. I was a die-hard from 1977 through 1980. By the time Return of the Jedi came out, I had defected to the Star Trek camp, and believed that Captain Kirk could beat the crap out of Luke Skywalker any day of the week, Jedi tricks not withstanding. I saw the third Star Wars movie more out of a sense of obligation than anything else, and didn't bother with Opening Day. (Watched it on Saturday afternoon instead.)

I was nine years old when Star Wars was released during the summer of '77. It was the third movie I saw theatrically (the fourth if I count Jaws, which I don't, since I slept through it), following King Kong and a Disney re-release (maybe Pinocchio?), so, if for that reason alone, it will always have a special place in my heart. It fired my creativity like no movie before or since. For three years, I was a Star Wars geek, and proud of it.

The Price of the Crown

After a week's worth of deliberations that included reading about 150 e-mails (roughly 10% of ReelThoughts' estimated regular readership), I have decided to go ahead with plans to serialize the book. It is divided into six sections, with each section containing six chapters, for a total of 36 chapters. My current intent is to post one chapter per day over a 36 day span beginning on June 5. The final chapter will be posted on July 10. There will be no "off days" - even July 4 will see the posting of a new chapter.

Two sequels exist to The Price of the Crown. I consider the first sequel, The Price of Magic, to be inferior but still enjoyable. It has its high points. I consider the second sequel, The Price of Terror, to be the best of the three. Depending on two factors, I may post these as well. The first is readership interest, as determined by the number of people who read Chapter 36 of the first book. The second is whether I receive e-mails from readers wanting more after they have finished the first book. If I post The Price of Magic, it will go up starting in late July with a completion date in early September. The third book would have to wait until the fall. I still have to write the final chapters of that one.