Rabid Star Wars enthusiasts descended upon movie houses like armies of Stormtroopers for the midnight debut of the latest and probably last big-screen chapter in George Lucas’ effect-laden space opera. Buoyed by glowing reviews from both the mainstream press and the fanboy bloggers, Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith has already grossed an estimated $17 million from the special Thursday midnight screening alone. The pic should enjoy the franchise’s biggest opening as it rolls out in theaters around the world. It is already setting records in foreign markets, including France and Mexico.
Episode III sees the rise of Darth Vader as vengeful young Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen) is seduced by the dark side. In addition to the triumphant return of filmdom’s most famous heavy breather, the pic features other elements from the original trilogy, including Chewbacca and fellow Wookies. Also back for the final installment are Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Natalie Portman as Padmé, Christopher Lee as Count Dooku, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Kenny Baker as R2-D2 and Frank Oz as the voice of the computer-generated Yoda.
Though this may be the last theatrical installment, it’s certainly not the end of the franchise. Lucas recently announced plans to produce both computer-animated and live-action TV series that take place within the Star Wars universe. Work on the new projects isn’t expected to get under way until at least next year.
Shot largely against blue screens, Revenge of the Sith offers tons of visual effects and digital animation by ILM. You can read more about the creation of film’s stunning visuals in the June issue of Animation Magazine, currently available by subscription and a Barnes & Noble stores.