Star Wars at the Movies began as an introductory series of blog posts for the Star Wars Collectors Archive (www.theswca.com). In the process of researching and writing the series, it soon became clear that like so many areas of Star Wars collecting, vintage theatrical advertising and related promotional items represent a niche that is surprisingly vast.
With posters representing the most vital and inherently collectible items produced in the movie marketing process – a position which they maintain to this day – they have been thoroughly documented over the years in quality publications both in print and on the web. However, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi were originally released in an era when a considerable amount of printed ephemera and promotional items were produced to raise awareness for a film's release. The first goal of this site is to provide an ongoing centralized resource for collectors and fans that compiles a comprehensive look at the myriad of additional material created to supplement the films' international release campaigns, from the earliest concepts and pre-release items to lobby cards, pressbooks, and souvenirs for cast, crew, and theater patrons.
The site's second objective is to document and commemorate the history of the original Star Wars Trilogy as a life-changing cinematic experience, namely in the form of the Star Wars at the Movies Podcast. Featuring interviews with a diverse ensemble of first generation fans and collectors from around the world, the podcast logs personal, first-hand accounts that define an era of theatrical exhibition and created a popular culture that is still thriving. The show presents an oral history which delves into the lasting impact of seeing the movies for the first (or 100th) time, along with the theatrical localities and all of the circumstantial peculiarities fans encountered along the way. In addition to the whos, wheres, whens, and hows discussed in the "Feature Presentation" interviews, the podcast offers breakdowns of vintage trailers and radio spots, as well as commentary on other moviegoing topics from a long time ago at theaters in our own galaxy.
Having been born in 1985, my introduction to Star Wars came via the small screen and a Magnavox VCR. Return of the Jedi is the first movie I recall ever watching, and it soon became my Saturday morning ritual to pop in the VHS tape and recreate what I'd seen with my cherished assortment of Kenner toys. It wasn't until the summer of 1992 at my hometown Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara that I saw the Trilogy on the big screen with an audience for the very first time. It was a transformative moment, and one which I could only imagine witnessing in 1977, 1980, and 1983. I can’t remember life before these movies were a part of it, but that time did in fact exist. The impetus for creating this project came from a desire to explore the cultural memory of that original period by cataloging its theatrical artifacts and reviving the reminiscences of those that were there.
Stephen Danley works as a Moving Image Cataloger and lives in Los Angeles with his immensely supportive and patient wife Tessa and their spaniel-muppet Digby. He is an Editor for the Star Wars Collectors Archive and co-hosts the Star Wars Collectors Archive Podcast.