(Feature Documentary, Premiere 2023 SXSW Film Festival)

There was a disturbance in the Force on Nov. 17, 1978. Eighteen months after Star Wars became a phenomenon, CBS aired the Star Wars Holiday Special, one of the more infamous chapters in the franchise’s lore. Now, a new documentary seeks to explain what really happened.

The Star Wars Holiday Special, seen by 13 million people, starred the original cast and centered on Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) flying to the Wookie home planet to celebrate a holiday called Life Day.

The special was so reviled that it never aired again and was denounced by Star Wars creator George Lucas, who was only minimally involved. As he said a year later at an Australian convention, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every bootlegged copy of the program and smash it.”

Disturbance in the Force will explain how and why the special was made. The feature is directed by Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak. Coon is known for the doc Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, while Kozak has lengthy TV credits, including the improv show Whose Line Is it Anyway?and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. The doc features Seth Green, Weird Al Yankovic, Paul Scheer, Taran Killam, Donny Osmond, the late Gilbert Gottfried, Bonnie Burton, Steve Binder and Bruce Vilanch, who co-wrote the special.

In 2019, Vilanch told THR, “Back then, a network variety special was one of the ways you promoted things … don’t think George was a watcher of network variety shows. If he had been, he would never have done this.”

Directors: Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak

Producer and Editor: Jeremy Coon