At last the wait is over. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now playing in theaters everywhere. Everywhere except, perhaps, Tunisia – I’ll get to that in a moment.

I’m betting most of you lined up outside theaters over the weekend, didn’t you? No? Then you must have pre-ordered tickets online, right?

I know many of us here at Systemware did. The few that didn’t go (you know who you are) missed out on the kind of comradery only a bunch of tech-nerds can share.

So today, we’re taking a little break with just a few cool Star Wars facts and figures. But don’t worry. If you haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet, we won’t spoil anything – yet.

Long live the droids

Only two actors have starred in all seven Star Wars films. Oddly enough, they play characters that – because of makeup – might have been played by different actors in all 7 episodes.

Actors Kenny Baker (R2-D2) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) both played droids whose human features were never seen at all. But if anyone else had played these roles, you can bet we’d have noticed.

Back to the Future

There’ve been plenty of great movie trilogies over the years, and surely Star Wars is among them. What makes Star Wars unique, of course, is that it’s a “trilogy of trilogies,” each offset by several years’ time.

While prequels and sequels are pretty common, “triplets” like this are not. And because they go back, then forward in time, it’s like doing sci-fi “Back to the Future” (yet another trilogy) – then multiplying by three again.

Whatever happened to George?

The Force Awakens will be the first Episode where neither George Lucas nor 20th Century Fox are involved. Why?

Lucas and Disney (the new owner of LucasFilms) had a major difference of opinion on the new script. Disney wanted a space opera focusing on the epic story. Lucas wanted a space soap opera – where the characters’ lives took center stage. Oddly enough, though, the original Star Wars trilogy was itself billed as a space opera. In the end, Lucas decided it was better to simply walk.

Let a classic be a classic

George Lucas is a perfectionist. He has a tendency to go back and “fix” things, even if they aren’t broken. He couldn’t help but re-touch the original trilogy, years after it premiered.

That caused a Great Disturbance in the Force. Lucas didn’t just re-master the originals, he changed them. He didn’t stop after improving the special effects, though. He added some scenes, changed others, replaced puppets with animation – then he removed the original versions from distribution. Some die-hard fans were devastated.

A face only a mother could love

Remember the very first Star Wars movie? The scene where Han, Luke and Leia jumped into a smelly, Death Star trash compactor to escape? Mark Hamill held his breath so long filming that scene he burst a blood vessel on his face. The camera crew had to shoot him from the other side just to hide it.

And that wasn’t the end of Hamill’s facial woes. Before filming The Empire Strikes Back, he fractured his cheek and nose in a car accident. To “explain away” the scars, the studio added the opening scene where Luke has a bloody fight with a Wampa.

All aboard for Tatooine

Ever wanted visit a hero’s home (planet)? The sets built for Skywalker’s home on Tatooine are still standing… in Tunisia. And many of the canyons and landscapes in the films are natural formations found in the desert there.

The buildings – including Luke’s home, old Ben’s place, Toshi Station and more – were built in various parts of Tunisia. The locals – most who’ve never seen Star Wars – maintain the structures or simply leave them alone. Maybe they know they were somehow important – a long time ago.

The Return of the Revenge of the …. what?

Did you know the original name of Episode VI was Revenge of the Jedi? The franchise actually used this title on movies trailers and posters. To avoid confusion, the producers of another sci-fi franchise changed their title from The Revenge of Khan to The Wrath of Khan.

And all for naught, when Lucas changed it to Return of the Jedi. Why? Maybe he felt the Jedi, as the “good” guys, didn’t do revenge.

By the numbers

  • Budget for the original film, A New Hope: $11M
  • Combined budget for all Star Wars films: $620M
  • Budget for The Force Awakens: $200M
  • Highest grossing film: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, $1.027 billion
  • Total worldwide box office receipts for Star Wars $4,486,158,822 (excluding last weekend!)
  • The Force Awakens opening weekend: $247 million

Like the Force, Star Wars will be with us for years to come. We’re certainly not done with it here at Systemware. If you haven’t seen the latest installment, take our advice. Take off work for a few hours and do it.

And may the Force be with you.