Lucas lawyers force Star Wars shutdown

Another battle has been added to the Star Wars saga. Only thisrecent skirmish didn’t happen in a galaxy far, far away, but righthere in Bay Ridge.

On July 1 — one day before a Star Wars marathon was scheduledto take place at the Wicked Monk on Fifth Avenue — bar ownersreceived a cease and desist letter from Lucasfilm Ltd., creatorGeorge Lucas’s production company.

You are hereby put on notice that the unauthorized activityconstitutes copyright and trademark infringement, the letter fromLucasfilm read. Please also be advised that public screenings ofthe ‘Star Wars’ films must be approved by Lucasfilm in advance, andat this time theatrical screenings of the ‘Star Wars’ motionpictures are on moratorium.

The films were to be shown in chronological order from 1999’sEpisode I: The Phantom Menace to 1983’s Return of the Jedi. ForMike DeVito and his partner Bianca Sunshine, who had both beenpromoting the event for months, the Star Wars shutdown was a hugedisappointment.

I felt badly because we had invested so much, Sunshine said.I knew it was going to be a letdown to a lot of lifelong ‘StarWars’ fans.

Even Luke Skywalker himself, actor Mark Hamill, couldn’t savethe ill-fated Star Wars marathon from Lucasfilm’s wrath. Hamillhad responded to organizers’ Twitter posts, stating he would haveattended if he hadn’t been stuck in California doing voiceoverwork, according to DeVito.

With the news that that marathon was cancelled coming just oneday before the event, organizers observed more than 20 would-beattendees showing up, dressed as their favorite characters.

We’ve had a lot of people with lightsabers in full costume whoshrugged their shoulders and left, DeVito said.

Perhaps most surprising were the reactions (or lack thereof) ofthose in costume who had stuck around at The Wicked Monk for aconciliatory showing of the Mel Brooks parody Space Balls. Whenasked to comment on the Lucas legal power play, four storm troopersand one Jar Jar Binks all refused to go on the record, citing afear of retribution from Lucas himself.

For DeVito and Sunshine, the reaction to their monthly freemovie night was baffling, and considering the inflexibility andlack of notice on Lucasfilm’s side, they are left questioning ifthey will even continue being fans. DeVito has vowed to never wearhis Star Wars t-shirt again. Sunshine is left wondering how whatthey had planned is any different from what happens at bars aroundthe country.

The movies were shown all day Sunday on [cable station] SpikeTV, Sunshine explained. However, she said, workers at the barwere so intimidated they wouldn’t even put on Spike TV. Any bar isallowed to play the television.

At the time this article went to press, Lucasfilm had notresponded to a request for comment except to confirm that thecease-and-desist letter was indeed sent by them.

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