Gary Kurtz

May 25, 2011 | 1:49 p.m.

‘Star Wars': A look back on opening day in May 1977

Harrison Ford, David Prows, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill in Jedi days (Lucasfulm)
Many of you celebrated Star Wars Day on May 4 (as in, “May the fourth be with you”), but Wednesday, May 25, might be a more apt time to stage an Ewok feast in honor of the greatest space opera of them all. It was 34 years ago, on May 25, 1977, that “Star Wars” (later known as “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope” ) thundered onto the big screen and changed the course of Hollywood history. It was clear on that day that George Lucas and his epic were a new force in American pop culture. “On opening day I was on the East Coast and I did the morning-show circuit — ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘Today,’” Gary Kurtz, the producer of “Star Wars,” told Hero Complex last year. “In the afternoon I did a radio call-in show in Washington and this guy, […]
Jan. 13, 2011 | 9:31 a.m.

‘The Empire Strikes Back': Sweet memories of the ‘impish’ Irvin Kershner

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GUEST ESSAY Writer and filmmaker Peter Briggs reflects on this week’s star-studded event celebrating the life and art of the late Irvin Kershner. “The Empire Strikes Back.”  Four simple words that are guaranteed to stir the heart for fans of the fantastic. That famous title was coined by “Star Wars” producer Gary Kurtz, as a throwaway phrase during a news conference in Germany when describing the aspirations of the “Star Wars” sequel. Happily, it stuck. It’s unfair to encapsulate a wide and varied cinematic career with just one movie, but for any “Star Wars” fan, those four words are instantly synonymous with only one individual. Perhaps not even George Lucas, who created and continues to feed the wellspring of imagination that is the ongoing “Star Wars” saga. Nor Kurtz, who against the odds produced a movie that arguably surpassed its original. Or screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, […]
Aug. 23, 2010 | 4:43 p.m.

‘Star Wars’ producer rolls into horror with ‘Panzer 88′

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THE EARLY VIEW: “PANZER 88″ Gary Kurtz, the producer of the first two “Star Wars” films and the man who walked away from the franchise in 1980, is not the excitable type. He speaks in even tones and pragmatic terms, but there was a clear tinge of eager energy in his voice when he sat down recently to discuss “Panzer 88,” his first foray into effects-heavy feature films since the 1980s. “It’s a good, good project, you haven’t seen anything like it for a while,” Kurtz said of the spooky wartime adventure that is planned as a $20 million independent film and will begin shooting in the winter. “It’s a visceral, reality-based story with horror overtones, and the idea is to have be like the best of the graphic novels these days.” The plot follows the five-man German crew of the Ilsa — a King […]
Aug. 12, 2010 | 12:00 p.m.

Did ‘Star Wars’ become a toy story? Producer Gary Kurtz looks back [Updated]

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Here is a longer version of my story on Gary Kurtz that appears in Thursday’s Calendar section. “Star Wars” was born a long time ago, but not all that far, far away. In 1972, filmmakers George Lucas and Gary Kurtz were toiling on “American Graffiti” in their San Rafael office when they began daydreaming about a throwback sci-fi adventure that channeled the old “Flash Gordon” serials as opposed to the bleak “message” movies that had taken over the genre. “We had no idea what we were starting,” said Kurtz, who was the producer of the first two “Star Wars” films and also a second-unit director. “That simple concept changed Hollywood in a way….” There was a bittersweet tinge to Kurtz’s voice, and it’s no surprise. This year is the 30th anniversary of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the “Star Wars” sequel […]
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