‘Star Wars VII’ Will Have Major Change to Opening: No Fox Fanfare

'Star Wars VII' Will Have Major Change to Opening: No Fox Fanfare

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.

Also read: ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ Coming to Theaters on December 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.

Also read: J.J. Abrams Addresses ‘Star Wars’ Screenwriter Switch – With a Jedi Mind Trick

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:

  • Sean Murdock

    So true. I was nine when “Star Wars” came out — none of that “Episode 4” nonsense in 1977! — and I basically think of the 20th Century Fox fanfare as PART of the “Star Wars” score. It will be odd when Episode VII starts without it — but then again, it will be odd watching a Star Wars premiere in December! What? No Memorial Day weekend release? This isn't “my” Star Wars anymore — and I expect that will result in changes both good and bad. But as long as the FILMS are good, I'll live with the other little changes.

    • harrykover

      True, but the releasedate change is only for the best because the production was really tight if the movie were to open Memorial weekend. Hopefully this will change for Episode VII and IX though. I can accept one if it is for the best of the movie, but two? No…
      Maybe Williams will make a “fanfare” for the Disney tune or something… but dang it is gonna be weird. Hopefully they will find a way to make it less weird than it is now with just thinking about it.

  • Jimmy

    Meh. No big deal. Of course, now we'll have to watch Tinkerbell fly over the Magicv Kingdom as with all Disney movies. As long as we have the main title, things are good.

    • AaronianKenrod

      Don't think that happened in any of the Marvel movies…

      • ILDC

        That's because Marvel is “a strong enough brand”.

        • AaronianKenrod

          And Star Wars isn't?

          • ILDC

            Lucasfilm sure ain't, that's for sure.

          • Kevin Kilmer

            you'red an idiot! SW is a HUGE brand some 30plus years later, a HUGE commercial entity unto itself, why the FFF do you think Disney paid 4.5 BILLION dollars to George Lucas for LucasFilm/Industrial Light and Magic?

  • L77
  • hupto

    By the time STAR WARS came out, I'd already heard the 20th fanfare so many times that it didn't “attach” itself to the SW theme in my head. I'm more likely to think of “Street Scene,” which Fox reused countless times to open a movie set in New York.

  • ganderman1

    *cries*

  • A.L. Hern

    “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.”

    It's actually Newman's Fox Fanfare WITH CINEMASCOPE EXTENSION, re-worked in 1953.

    And Williams didn't have much of a choice, did he? Fox hadn't used its ‘Scope fanfare in years when George Lucas decided he wanted it at the beginning of “Star Wars,” over the initial objections of some Fox executives. Happily, Fox President Alan Ladd, jr., who'd championed Lucas's project, gave his assent, and John Williams's score (which some of the same Fox execs wanted scrapped in favor of something more “hip”) had its lead-in.

    I suspect that for the new films Williams will write his own fanfare that will serve both the purpose of giving the score the same kind of musical and emotional springboard Alfred Newman's did, but also serve as a tribute to Newman who, as head of the 20th Century-Fox Music Department, was Williams’ patron and frequent employer during the composer's early years in Hollywood.

    • tim.molloy

      Very wonderful addition to the post – thanks!

    • Ian Clue

      You know lot's of stuff. You should blog or something.

      Thumbs up! And sorry if I sound sarcastic, I don't mean to be. I'm just drunk on Old Crow.

      • A.L. Hern

        Very kind of you to say that, but blogging's a modern form of narcissism to which I prefer not to succumb.

        • CombatCasualty

          Now you just sound like a prick.

  • Jim

    Shh, shh….

    I hear Rupert Murdoch cursing.

  • kuzefra

    So, we'll get the Disney castle “When you wish upon a star…” followed by JJ Abrams’ Bad Wobot! production logo, and maybe a redesigned Lucasfilm emblem leading into “A Long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”

    • Matt Clayton

      I think the film will open with the Lucasfilm and Bad Robot logos. Yes, I know Disney owns Lucasfilm — but I think Disney will keep their logo off the films similarly to their Marvel Studios output.

      • Vision

        Yeah it will start with the disney logo without tinker bell it will have
        a muted color change and Tie Fighters will fly across the castle..while Imperial Walker stomp the Grounds…and then we hear Darth Vaders breathing even though he's not in the film.

      • ILDC

        Nope, for some reason they're branding it like a Pixar movie: “Disney-Lucasfilm”.

      • erictan

        It's not a Bad Robot production.
        Either the Lucasfilm intro will get music at last or the main score will be redesigned to fit the new regime change.
        A redesigned Disney intro? 50-50, I think. Look at Marvel's Thor sequel.

    • Duder NME

      Not to mention the billions of other production logos flashing on the screen, reminiscent of that skit in Family Guy.

    • Donny Pearson

      Agreed. With respect, though, the Lucasfilm logo should be placed between the Disney logo and the Bad Robot logo. Whether or not the Disney logo will be seen before the Lucasfilm and Bad Robot logos at the start of “Star Wars Episode VII,” I am totally cool with that.

  • L77

    i've signed this petition to see if they could use the disney logo and keep the fox music….i'm sure they could work something out….we need to get them to do it

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keep-20th-century-fox-fanfare-music-for-opening-of/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=Petition

  • adrfax

    Plot twist: Williams does not return either since Abrams hires Michael Giacchino instead.

    • Kevin Kilmer

      I HIGHLY DOUBT IT!!

  • Robert Guilfoyle

    My god, Molloy, you come across as the worst kind of fanboy here and are making a mountain out of a molehill. Grow the eff up.

  • Generation42

    “Overlooked”?

    “Only occurred to [you] with Thursday’s announcement”?

    See, I'm one of those lifetime SW geeks who came to this realization probably within twenty minutes of pondering the reality of Episode VII, when the news broke over a year ago! :)

    Sure, to some people it's “making a mountain out of a mole hill” (and yeah, it really kind of is), but to folks like us, the little things can sometimes make all the difference. We know what we like, and I'm certainly not gonna sweat anybody who takes issue with that!

  • Duder NME

    News flash: the new film will have “Star Wars: Episode VII” in the title! Up next: Clone Wars already didn't use the Fox Fanfare in 2008! Also: so-called fans will whine no matter what!

    • JRS

      I don't count “Clone Wars” as an actual Star Wars movie. It's a cartoon — a bad CG cartoon at that — and not part of the numerated saga (1-6). And the wonky opening was part what I disliked about it. I didn't watch it in its entirety, but what I did see gave me dry heaves.

      • ILDC

        The whole thing was basically just the first episodes of the TV show, blown up on 2,000 big screens for promotional reasons.

  • Ched Groundheggin

    How was this overlooked? Fans have talking about this since day one. If you really wanted this to be an interesting story, you should have mocked up a new sequence with the Disney and Bad Robot Intros.

    Actually DO something…. instead of useless words.

  • Andy

    The themes are in the key of B-flat, not B. Yes, it matters.

  • Chewie

    newsflash and correction: It's “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”

  • Peter Fisher

    As long as John Williams writes new music for the Disney logo I will very happy with the opening!

  • James Deangelis

    Nooooo….. I want the familiar, iconic 20th Century Fox and Lucas Film logos and music!

  • JD

    This is dumb. Who gives a shit about the stupid 20th century fox fanfare. Its the Star Wars logo with the star wars theme that matters. You could play keyboard cat before and it wouldn't matter because once that first note hits everyone will be going crazy!

  • SW fan

    Disney should find a way to include the original opening (Fox fanfare) in the new star wars movies; it's something that is so attached to the films and the memories of all the fans, that it will feel rather anticlimactic if we don't see it, or we get any kind of castle, robot or Disney logo, it will certainly kill the mood before the movie starts. They need to make some kind of deal with fox or just ask for the permission to include it, said like a recognition for the support that the company has given these past years to the franchise.

    C'mon Disney make star wars fans (customers) happy, and in the process more money :)

    • Darth Vader

      So you want disney to put some other companies logo on their movie and share profits that they don't need to, just to make a couple of fans happy, that would see it anyways? Does this only sound crazy to me?

      • JordanM1

        Disney has to with the new Xmen movies because 21st Century Fox Inc (through the 20th Century Fox Film Corporaton) owns the character rights to Xmen