One overlooked effect of Disney's takeover
When “Star Wars: Episode VII” arrives in theaters, it will do so without some very familiar music.
The Twentieth Century Fox fanfare that has started every “Star Wars” film since “Episode IV: A New Hope” will be gone, because Disney bought Lucasfilm last year. It's an obvious change, but one that only occurred to me with Thursday's announcement that the next film in the saga will premiere Dec. 18, 2015.
Disney confirmed to me Friday that no, of course it wouldn't open the film with another company's logo and music.
That means an end to one of the most thrilling, anticipatory moments in movies: the start of a new “Star Wars.” You know exactly what I mean.
The theater goes dark. The drum roll begins: Brrrrrumpum. Brrrrumpum. Brrrrrrrrrrrr-um-pum. The Twentieth Century Fox logo appears, lit up by floodlights. In come the horns.
Next appears the Lucasfilm logo, and then, complete silence. A hush falls over the theater, as we see the iconic words:
“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”
A pause. And endless pause.
And then, like a dam breaking, the triumphant “Star Wars” main title theme begins, played over a crawl describing the latest exploits of our heroes. If your theater is anything like any theater where I've ever seen a “Star Wars” film, it explodes in cheers.
I first saw “Star Wars” in a theater as a toddler. The 20th Century Fox theme has such a Pavlovian effect on me that I even get excited at the beginning of bad movies that begin with it.
The fanfare and the “Star Wars” theme were truly made to go together. The fanfare had been almost phased out of Fox productions by the mid-1970s, but George Lucas loved it so much he insisted it be used at the start of 1977's “Star Wars.”
The reason the main title theme seems to complete the fanfare is that it does: John Williams composed the theme in B major — the same key as Alfred Newman's 1933 fanfare — knowing the Fox anthem would lead into his opening notes.
But not anymore.
Watch the opening to “Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope” — complete with that gorgeous fanfare: