‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and Harrison Ford at the ArcLight on May 19


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A yearlong Lucasfilm charity campaign called ‘The Empire Gives Back’ begins with the ArcLight event, where Ford will be interviewed on stage by Hero Complex blogger Geoff Boucher.

This is a longer version of my article in Friday’s Los Angeles Times...


To celebrate the 30th anniversary of ‘The Empire Strikes Back,Lucasfilm is planning a yearlong charity campaign that kicks off in the U.S. on May 19 with the hottest fanboy ticket of the year: A one-night-only digital screening of the 1980 ‘Star Wars’ sequel at the ArcLight Hollywood and an on-stage Q&A with Harrison Ford.

The ArcLight screening will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a cause that persuaded the 67-year-old Hollywood icon to participate despite his long-standing reluctance to revisit the ‘Star Wars’ universe and his role as rakish interstellar smuggler Han Solo.

Although almost every other cast member from the George Lucas films has worked the convention circuit or made appearances at themed film festivals and fan celebrations, Ford has shown little interest in revisiting his cinematic adventures with Jedi knights, wookiees and droids.

Earlier this year, while doing press for the medical drama ‘Extraordinary Measures,’ he practically groaned when asked if he would return to the role as a voice actor in an animated or motion-capture project. ‘Han Solo was very good to me at a certain point in my career, but I’m done with him,’ he told a television crew.

That’s not to suggest that Ford isn’t proud of his work in ‘Star Wars’ or unaware of its massive impact on his Hollywood trajectory. The space-opera and the Indiana Jones films established Ford as a movie star of the highest order; at one point, the list of the five highest-grossing movies of all time included four films starring Ford.

‘Empire Strikes Back’ is viewed by many fans as the most compelling of the six ‘Star Wars’ live-action feature films. It introduced Yoda, Boba Fett and Lando Calrissian and was visually striking, with settings on an ice planet, a swamp world and a floating cloud metropolis. It also revealed that Darth Vader was the father of Luke Skywalker, the signature moment in the family melodrama the sits at the very heart of the intergalactic epic.

Ticket for the ArcLight screening are $100 or $175 for ‘premiere seating’ and on sale now at the St. Jude’s website.

[For fun, here’s the original trailer for the film...]

The ArcLight event, which is sponsored by Junk Food Clothing, is the beginning of ‘The Empire Gives Back’ campaign, which will raise money for a number of charities. The schedule of events includes ‘Empire’ screenings May 7-8 at the Field Museum’s Ernst & Young Theater in Chicago and auctions and other events that tie thematically into the 1980 film. Information on the programs can be found on the ‘Star Wars’ website.

“‘Star Wars’ has received such an amazing show of love and support throughout the years, from fans all over the world,” said Mich Chau, president and chief operating officer of Lucasfilm. “This anniversary gives us a wonderful opportunity to give back to our fans, and to work with some truly worthy organizations in a combined effort to support those in need.”

-- Geoff Boucher


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Top photo: Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) during a casual moment while shooting ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’ (Lucasfilm) Bottom: George Lucas (Lucasfilm)