Pablo Hidalgo, rock star of the Star Wars universe, led a lovely discussion about the history of the Star Wars franchise on day 2 of the D23 Expo. He began with a summary of all six films, starting with Episode 1, The Phantom Menace, and ending with Episode 6, Return of the Jedi. This launched him into an inspirational and nostalgic discussion of the movies, the franchise, the beginnings, and the future of Star Wars.
Hidalgo showed panel attendees photos of the early production team of Star Wars as well as some of the original concept art for Thai Fighters, X-Wings, C3PO and R2D2. He explained the process that went into the creation of the characters themselves, and how each of them needed a “rougher design” to satisfy George Lucas. New artists were actually brought onto the team specifically to “roughen” the original designs, which consisted of clean and shiny space ships and robots.
Hidalgo detailed the excitement that surrounded the original release of the first movie–then simply called “Star Wars”, now known to most as “Episode 4: A New Hope.” He described the process of creating “hype” and how it differed back then–There needed to be a novelization of the film released before the film itself, there were pre-screenings at early Comic Con’s, and general soul-signing-over by all of the people involved in the project. Luckily, their efforts were successful, and Star Wars was a hit. By the time Episode 5, “Empire Strikes Back,” was released, the hype surrounding the films was huge and undeniable. Producers of Star Wars released a list of films in theaters that would be showing the trailer for Episode 5, and those showings sold out all across America. Theaters even had to ban refunds for the films showing the trailer to avoid fans buying their ticket, watching the trailer, then leaving and expecting a refund.
The Christmas following the release of the first film was a rough one for Star Wars–demand called for Star Wars action figures, but they could not be manufactured in the amount of time and in the huge quantities required. Instead, on Christmas morning, children opened empty boxes containing a membership to the “Space Club” (which admittedly meant nothing) and a card to send in to the manufacturer when the release of the action figures was announced–Once the card was received, a full set of action figures was sent back to the anxious child. In the end, no child received their Christmas presents until March the following year.
After detailing the exciting release of the Star Wars movies, Hidalgo discussed the future of Star Wars. Hidalgo was cagey about this subject, and ultimately did not let on too much. He did, however, announce the new animated series, Star Wars Rebels, which takes place between episodes three and four, mainly focusing on the Rebel alliance, with very few Jedi appearances. The lack of Jedi in the new series created some skepticism in the audience, but all in all, our faith in Disney is high, and the new series promises to be an exciting addition to the saga.
I can read your minds! No, Hidalgo said nothing about Star Wars Episode 7, besides the fact that he was not even close to being allowed to discuss it. This didn’t stop multiple attendees from bugging him about it during the Q&A, but Hidalgo remained impressively vigilant in his defense against the onslaught of questions.
Hidalgo is a very passionate man, and spoke to the nerd in all of us. Cosplayers, old fans, and young fans alike rejoiced in this celebration of The Force, and left the panel with A New Hope for the future of the saga. After this panel, an extremely exhausted and over stimulated Grace decided it was time to get home and rest up for the next fun-filled day at the Expo!
Want more D23 Expo news? Check out the other articles in Grace’s Mini-D23 Expo series!