This is the 19th column in a weekly series from The Rock Father James Zahn. Check back Fridays for the latest in what’s happening in the galaxy far, far away, or read them all here.

It’s incredible that over the course of more than 40 years full of documentaries, behind-the-scenes specials, and feature-packed home video releases spanning formats such as Laserdisc, Beta, VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD, there is STILL unseen footage from the classic Star Wars Saga being discovered. Or in some cases, rediscovered.

For years, snippets and incomplete versions of an hour-long documentary by late French filmmaker Michel Parbot have regularly surfaced on the internet. The Making of The Empire Strikes Back has been regarded as a legendary and almost mythical piece of Star Wars history—the stuff of fuzzy memories and vague recollections that maybe it was once seen on TV. On Monday, October 1, 2018, miraculously, the entire film surfaced on YouTube in its complete and unedited form. With no description of where it was found or who took the time to digitize it (possibly filmed from a projection), it was just there. And it’s incredible.

Unearthed just a week after the passing of producer Gary Kurtz, the footage is particularly interesting in just how much Kurtz and director Irwin Kershner are at the forefront—not George Lucas. The scale and magnitude of the production—much of it done on location—has never really been shown as it is here, and keen viewers may even catch glimpses of props and vehicles that never made it into Empire, but would later inspire toys. It’s also pretty clear that Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher had no idea about the family ties between the Princess and the former farm boy—at least not early in the production. This is a new look at the era of real magic… a time when audiences fell in love with Star Wars for the very first time.

The Rise of “The Mandalorian”

As audiences continue to await solid details on Disney’s still-unnamed direct-to-consumer streaming service, one of its most-anticipated pieces of original programming is about to go in front of the cameras. Just days after writer/executive producer Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book) was spotted inspecting an under-construction set on a vacant lot somewhere in southern California, the filmmaker took to Instagram to reveal the title and synopsis for his live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian.


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With a western vibe of a lone gunslinger in the years following the collapse of The Empire and before the birth of The First Order, it’s interesting to note how non-specific the synopsis plays as to who this Mandalorian warrior might be. While she’s unlikely to be at the center of the action, here’s hoping that we see Sabine Wren, who was last seen heading off with Ahsoka Tano in the series finale of Star Wars Rebels. The timing would seem to line up, and fans have been eager to know where that story might lead. Could those characters finally be making the jump to live-action? While Favreau is currently directing Disney’s reimagined version of The Lion King, Dave Filoni will helm the first episode.

Further Transmissions

  • Star Wars Resistance will have a new toy line! Ahead of NYCC, Hasbro announced a new collection of action figures based on the new Disney Channel animated series. Figures will be in the classic 3.75-inch scale and come in both single packs and two-packs. Expect more announcements on vehicles and play sets in the near future.
  • Every fan has his or her own “Star Wars Story,” and most have many. In the new Original Series, Our Star Wars Stories, Toy Hunter Jordan Hembrough travels the country to sit down with fans from all walks of life to get insight on how the Saga has touched their lives. In the first episode, Jordan catches up with Albin Johnson, founder of the 501st Legion. See it here.
  • There’s a new episode of The Star Wars Show, and in it David S. Goyer and Mohen Leo talk all about their new ILMxLAB project, Vader Immortal. And since that story takes place largely on the lava planet of Mustafar, it’s pretty fitting that LEGO just announced their new Vader’s Castle set. It’s an Amazon exclusive.

The Force of New York Comic-Con #StarWarsNYCC

The 2018 edition of NYCC is getting underway, and while you won’t find me there, you just may come across other members of The Pop Insider crew! Members of the team will be out in full force (pun?) alongside counterparts from The Toy Insider to bring back the news that will help to #FuelYourFandom. On the Star Wars front, there’s much to do, including panels and presentations, and your chance to hop in the cockpit of The Fireball, one of the new ships from Star Wars Resistance In booth 436.

Here’s some Star Wars programming that you won’t want to miss:
Lucasfilm Presents: Our Star Wars Stories
Friday, October 5, 2018, 1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Room 1A10 – Javits Center

Disney-Lucasfilm Publishing Presents: Stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Friday, October 5, 2018, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Room 1A10 – Javits Center

Disney-Lucasfilm Presents: A Celebration of Female Writers in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Saturday, October 6, 2018, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Shop Studios, Level 4 – 528 W 39th St

Hasbro Star Wars
Sunday, October 7, 2018, 1:15 pm. – 2:15 p.m.
Room 1A02 – Javits Center