Dan Madsen remembers running the Star Wars Fan Club and wrangling a part in The Phantom Menace.
In 1987, I was asked to relaunch Lucasfilm’s Official Star Wars Fan Club. Years after Return of the Jedi and a considerable time before the first prequel film, I realized that there was still a thirst for more Star Wars. So, taking off from there, we built a start-up campaign for signing up fan club members and launched a new club magazine, which evolved into the Star Wars Insider.
The most important question on everyone’s minds then was “When is Star Wars coming back?” The announcement of the first prequel was met with overwhelming enthusiasm. The build up to that first new film was like nothing I have ever experienced as an original Star Wars fan. I produced the very first Star Wars Celebration in Denver (my hometown) in 1999 and 30,000 rabid fans descended on the Mile High City to celebrate all things Star Wars. Those years building up to the prequels were some of the best for Star Wars fans — we had the memories of our beloved first three films and the anticipation for what was to come.
While the prequels were not everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying that they brought a new, younger generation into the Star Wars universe who weren’t even born when the original films came out. Now those kids are all grown up and waiting for what Disney will do with Episode VII.
To be honest, I never thought we would see an Episode VII or VIII or IX! I figured Lucas was done after the prequels and I sure didn’t see the Disney purchase coming! I’m cautiously optimistic about the next Star Wars incarnation. If anyone can pull it off, it’s probably J.J. Abrams. And quite possibly, for those disappointed in the prequels, these new Disney/Abrams films might be the ultimate “fan films” they have yearned for. There is always the chance that we may be disappointed in seeing an older Luke, Han and Leia — what if the magic isn’t there anymore as some suggested after the last Indiana Jones film? We’ll just have to wait and see. Still, there’s great promise for Episode VII and I’m probably more excited about this time in Star Wars history than before the prequels.
— Dan Madsen