A fandom has reached the pinnacle of popular culture greatness when a day is celebrated in its honor; however, it is an unprecedented phenomenon when a franchise has two days each year to celebrate its geekiness. While some enduring franchises of multiple decades do not have any globally recognized commemorative days, Star Wars is the singular franchise that has back-to-back celebratory days: May the Fourth and Revenge of the Fifth.
I’m dating myself here, but I am old enough to have seen Star Wars during its original theatrical run in 1977. It’s interesting to think about how the movie-going experience has changed over 40 years. I grew up in a small town in the Midwest. Kansas City was my nearest major metropolitan area. It took a while before I got a chance to see Star Wars for a couple of reasons. First, I was in elementary school and unable to drive myself. The second was that, for quite a long time, Star Wars screened exclusively on one screen in Kansas City, and Kansas City wasn’t alone as it relates to that release pattern. Star Wars played at the Glenwood Cinema for over one full year (55 weeks to be exact). With it only playing on one screen in a city of nearly two million people, getting into it was kind of like getting tickets to Hamilton. Contemporary release patterns are considerably more wide and extensive. Films move in and out of the multiplex quickly, because the studios need to maximize that opening weekend as much as they can. If a film doesn’t open well, it doesn’t have time to find an audience, because there are more movies coming after it that will eat up the screens. For instance, The Force Awakens opened on over 4100 screens across North American. To put in perspective the change from 1977, when Star Wars ran in first run cinemas for over 12 months, a year after The Force Awakens was released, Rogue One was already in theaters and The Last Jedi was already in principle photography.
While disco was hot and bell bottoms were cool, the late 1970s saw an influx of popular culture milestones on the silver screen that included the release of Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Halloween, Apocalypse Now, and Alien. Director Ridley Scott introduced a new kind of science fiction space horror in which he re-appropriated and re-imagined the slasher genre. With this film, Scott explored themes of survival, isolationism, the final girl concept, and the uncanny valley, as well as showcased the visual aesthetic created by German artist H. R. Giger. In Alien, Scott introduced audiences to LV-426, one of the three moons orbiting Calpamos, but it was in James Cameron’s 1986 Aliens that revisited LV-426, no longer devoid of human life, but inhabited with a terraforming colony called Hadley's Hope. Needless to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of hope or colonists by the time Ripley returned to the xenomorph-infested moon.
"I heard that Fox was gonna do Alien vs. Predator, which really depressed me, because I was very proud of the movies. I’ve nothing against building a movie on a video game, but at the time it was, as Jim Cameron said, I think publicly, ‘Why would you want to do that'? It’s like making Alien Meets the Wolfman.”
Though Alien and Aliens were released in 1979 and 1986, respectively, it was in the 1990s that Aliens, as a universe, solidified and proliferated itself across a variety of other narrative media and paratexts. While the '90s saw the release of the Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection films, it is easily these other forms of storytelling that provided the greatest contributions to the Aliens franchise, both in tangible products to sell, as well as lore and stories to expand the universe (canonical or not). Dark Horse Comics contributed the majority to the narrative through their various Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator comics, an IP they still generate material for to this day. Bantam Books released a plethora of Aliens books in the '90s before DH Press took the reins in the 2000s.
The following is an interview with Jaime Prater, host of Perfect Organism: The Alien Saga Podcast. In this interview, Fanbase Press President Bryant Dillon talks with Prater about his love of the Alien franchise, the origins of the podcast, and more.
WINNERS ANNOUNCED BELOW
Dear Fanbase Press Readers:
At WonderCon 2017, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief had the pleasure of chatting with comic book writer Daniel Corey about his new comic book-turned-VR experience, Moriarty: Endgame, which was created in partnership with Transmedia Entertainment. Transmedia Entertainment has been very generous to us, as we are now able to share an exciting and exceptional giveaway for Steam keys to the Moriarty: Endgame VR experience to fans everywhere!