Star Wars Episode VII: Fanfare – Does Episode VII Need The Fox Fanfare?

FANFARE: (noun) a loud short piece of music played usually on a trumpet and to introduce the arrival of something important

That’s the dictionary talking and never has it been so true. The 20th Century Fox fanfare is iconic in the movies – the huge letters standing proud like they were carved from mountains, the searchlights reaching to the stars, the drumrolls blasting across the theatre.

After this initial assault there’s a calmer piece but no less rousing, and it’s here we see the Lucasfilm logo. After this, a silence pregnant with anticipation and then, at long last, the words appear…‘A long time ago…’

The 20th Century Fox fanfare is synonymous with the Star Wars movies. From the earliest days on video when we would play the film again and again, the drums sounding out told us that our favourite movies were beginning. It got us excited watching the movies again with the Special Editions, so we were pretty much slavering at the mouth when 1999 finally arrived and we got to hear that fanfare at the beginning of whole new Star Wars movie. For many people the two go together, a match made in celluloid heaven.

So, the question: Now that Disney own Lucasfilm, what will the opening be like? Will Disney start with their iconic Disney Castle and arc of fairy dust, with ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ booming from the speakers? If that’s the case, how will that fit with the Star Wars movies?

I asked the Jedi News team, fans, stars of the movies and film those involved in the film industry their thoughts.

Mark Newbold of Jedi News was the first to answer:

“I’m not sure if it makes me sad, geeky or just plain nostalgic but it doesn’t matter what 20th Century Fox movie I see, if it has the Fox fanfare at the start of it I’m waiting for the green Lucasfilm logo and the words ‘A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away. . . ‘ to appear on the screen. But a Star Wars film without that at the top of it? We’ve had it before when The Clone Wars had the WB logo launching the series in 2008. But a new Sequel Trilogy without that classic Alfred Newman music heading it up…it’s as unthinkable as Corellians without bloodstripes and Alderaanian royalty without the crazy hairstyles. Let’s hope that either Disney design an amazing opening logo that really knocks it out of the park or some mutual arrangement can be come to, because Star Wars totally depends on a number of key, iconographic cornerstones being in place and that 20th Century Fox opening is high on that list.

So, is the Fox fanfare so deeply ingrained in the Star Wars opening that the feeling of the movie would be fundamentally changed if it were removed? A lot of fans feel strongly about it. In fact, Jedi News reporter Matt Booker had this to say:

“I’d like to start a campaign that all Star Wars fans take an MP3 of the fanfare on whatever iPhone etc they have and play it just after the trailers. I think it’s the only really bad thing of the sale of LFL to be honest.

That’s a strong sentiment. How do you cater for the audience who virtually demand their Fox fanfare? Perhaps any movie directly attached to the first six movies could have the special ‘Fox Fanfare’ treatment, while other movies of a spinoff vein would have their own. That makes a lot of sense, and as Curto Burns Collectors Cast co-host Dan Curto answered:

“This is something I thought about shortly after the announcement was made. Very weird to think of a Star Wars movie without the 20th Century Fox fanfare. Even if I am watching a different Fox movie…whenever I hear that music: I think of Star Wars. Always. Hopefully, Disney will work it out…at least for Episodes 7-9. If they make other movies that are not directly related to the saga, that’s a little more acceptable. It’s a big universe…there’s room for everyone…

And Jedi News US News Editor Justin LaSalata agreed with him:

“Agree with Dan 100%. If I were a betting man, I’d say we’re gonna have the Fox fanfare before Episodes 7-9.

Paul Bateman was more interested in what comes after whatever fanfare they decide to use, so perhaps fans are much more nostalgic over the Star Wars title bursting onto the screen – that’s where the film truly starts for them. He said:

Whatever the symbol upfront – once John Williams Star Wars fanfare kicks in and the type starts to roll it will be 1977 all over again for me. The lack of Fox logo won’t diminish my excitement, we’re getting more Star Wars in 2015!!! See everyone in those lines around the block!

On that same line of thought Albin Johnson, the founder of the 501st, had this to say.

While the 20th Century Fox theme is burned into my brain as leading into the John Williams music back in 1977, the logo itself was less so. Now that they don’t play the music with the logo up there (at least for most movies) then it’s not as intimately connected as it was back in the day. For me, Star Wars begins with the line “A long time ago…” and then the big high-note of the theme music. Change is the only constant in life, so while it will take some getting used to I won’t have a problem with whatever production logo is up there as long as the movie quality for Star Wars is just as good or better.

Of course, losing the Fox fanfare may change the way we feel about a Star Wars movie as we have grown up with these icons. Former Savage Garden frontman Darren Hayes had this to say:

You’re asking one of the most sentimental and old school Star Wars fans here, so you know my answer. Han shot first and hold on to the Fox logo like it’s the weather vane at Cloud City 😉

So, we’ve got the opinions of the fans, but what about those directly involved with the Star Wars films? These are the people who were actually part of the saga and have been involved for the last thirty years or more.

Who better to ask than Boba Fett himself, Jeremy Bulloch?

It helps, at the start of the film. People remember that. They remember the start, waiting for the film with their biccies and their popcorn, hearing that fanfare and knowing what’s coming. I think it’s got to be exactly the same, to help people get into the swing of the films.

There are those who don’t directly share the feelings of nostalgia or identity and don’t need all that nonsense. Although they understand the simple emotional connection between the Fox fanfare and the Star Wars movies, they’re much more interested in a quality movie. Here’s Ian Liston, who played Wes Janson in The Empire Strikes Back:

Does it really matter one jot these days? At the start of Skyfall one sees 20th Century Fox .. And the Columbia lady .. And the Sony logo. Who’d have thought that could happen. It’s corporate vanity, nothing more, nothing less and it’s a tedious irrelevance that does nothing to enhance the enjoyment of the films. Let’s just hope we get good Star Wars films for 7,8 & 9 with top notch scripts, the sense of adventure we had with The Empire Strikes Back…and a cast of bloody good actors. I’m available!

Then there’s the idea that even though the visual icons may be discarded the music may remain in some way or form – a happy medium between old and new, perhaps? Warwick Davis said:

Whenever I hear those famous drums at the beginning of 20th Century Fox’s logo theme, it reminds me of ‘Star Wars‘. The two things have become so associated, it’s hard to imagine a ‘Star Wars‘ film beginning any other way, but in 2015, it will. John Williams actually scored a new ending for Fox’s theme, so there is a chance some of it could remain as a precursor to the silence before the massive sting that introduces those huge yellow words that mean so much to so many.

The final word is left to Kyle Newman, the director of Fanboys. He may be voicing what a lot of the fans think:

As much as I love that iconic 20th Century Fox logo for nostalgic reasons, I have always loved what came after it more… Star Wars movies! So as long as we are getting new adventures in “a galaxy far, far away” on the silver screen, then I honestly don’t mind what logo precedes them. That’s a trade-off I’d take ANY day! But for the record, Disney’s logo is beautiful and equally legendary. And I’m positive that this union of the two brand’s spells excitement for all of us fans. I’m simply overjoyed that the greatest saga of all time is back… and here to stay!

The real question is, where do you think Star Wars begins? Is it when the 20th Century Fox logo and fanfare begins? When the Lucasfilm logo appears? When ‘A Long Time Ago…’ fades in, or when the words Star Wars explode onto the screen? Perhaps you think Star Wars begins when they show the rating certificate?

If you’re Lucasfilm logo and beyond, you’re pretty much safe. Anything before that and you may have to grit your teeth.

For more of Jonathan’s articles click here.

Jonathan Hicks
Jonathan is the RPG editor for Jedi News, a position he continues from his decade at starting in 1999.