Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The day the Force left me

With the upcoming premier of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", I probably need to tell my most significant Star Wars story. It's... unfortunate.

It was December 1976 and at my college paper, the Features Editor grabbed me.

"I have a press kit for a movie coming out next summer," he said. "It's science fiction, so I thought you'd want it."

Alarms bells went off in my head. The saying is, the more a studio is worried about a movie, the more in advance it sends out the press kit. The fact that a movie coming out in the summer of 1977 was sending out a press kit before the end of 1976 didn't bode well, or so I thought.

"Sure," I said. "I'll take a look at it."

It was thick and featured a lot of information, as well as a lot of publicity photos. It looked weird, like nothing I had seen before.

"Probably gonna flop," I thought.

It was right before Christmas Break, so after scanning it I tossed it on the dresser in my dorm room, left town - and forgot about it.

I went through the entire Spring 1977 semester and never gave it a thought. I stayed on campus over the summer, and it was in June that I bumped into a friend of mine who was also on campus. He knew I liked s-f, and he told me he had just seen this great movie that had just opened.

As he gushed on about it, I realized it was the movie whose press kit had been sitting in my room gathering dust for months. I went to my room and dug it out.

"Here, I think you'll like this!"

He was very grateful.

A week or two later, I realized what a smash hit "Star Wars" had become. A few months later I heard that the original press kit - the one I had given away - had already become a collector's item, especially since it included movie stills from scenes that ultimately didn't make it to the screen.

When I saw the movie, I realized that was true - that press kit came out before the final editing was done.

It's been 38 years, and I have to say that I don't think about it often, I'm a firm believer in living in the present.

The last time I heard, complete versions of that press kit were selling and auctioning for thousands of dollars - and are very rare.

My friend graduated and went on to med school in Upstate New York, and from what I know, is a physician in California. Completely lost touch with him.

I'd like to think he kept the press kit all these years; in any case, I'd rather not know. You just can't look back.

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This is one of my best ever alternate histories.