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Return Of The Jedi’s ‘Black Friday’ - 22nd November, 1982...

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Black Friday’ has been mentioned a couple of times over the years on the OT•com that I can remember (here & here come to mind; there may be other mentions too?) - yet there is seemingly no dedicated thread for such a worthwhile and intriguing topic.

So, here goes…
 

• What is ‘Black Friday’?

 
On 22nd November 1982, barely six months before the release of Return Of The Jedi, the finale of the Original Trilogy… George Lucas decided that roughly 100 visual effects shots - totalling an estimated four months of work and mostly taken from the film’s final battle sequence - weren’t completed to his satisfaction and had them all thrown out.

Ken Ralston and company all went out and “got loaded” after the axe fell, and ROTJ producer Howard Kazanjian was left speechless at $250,000 of work (in 1983 money) chucked. While some of the live-action elements of this material wound up on the blu-ray, and the ‘Making Of Return Of The Jedi’ e-book, none of these thrown-out effects have ever seen the light of day.
 

• Some articles and sources of information on Black Friday…

 

Visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston talks about “Black Friday"’:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=XX_erQtz-KY - an 80 second video from the Muppet youtube channel.

 

George Lucas Scrapped ROTJ Effects Shots - 2012 article at Star Wars Underworld…

^ A snippet of the above article, quotes from JW Rinzler:-

“I discovered this thing called ‘Black Friday’…where George [Lucas] just cut out a lot of effects shots, at pretty much the eleventh hour, causing [VFX supervisor] Ken Ralston to go out and get drunk! …It wasn’t a self-inflicted disaster, but I think they considered it at that time to be…not a disaster, but a big setback - for the good of the film, obviously… It was a big deal.”

 

George Lucas Threw Out Months Of VFX Work He Didn’t Like - 2021 article at What Culture…

^ 'One of the single most infamous days in the production of any Star Wars movie was Return of the Jedi’s “Black Friday.”

On November 22, 1982, barely six months before release, George Lucas decided that roughly 100 visual effects shots - totalling an estimated four months of work and mostly taken from the film’s final battle sequence - weren’t completed to his satisfaction and had them all thrown out.

The crew at Industrial Light & Magic were forced to start again from scratch, news which allegedly prompted many crew members to get extremely drunk.

The end result is certainly spectacular, but it’s easy to appreciate the VFX crew’s frustration at Lucas’ apparent inability to communicate exactly what he wanted at the outset.’

 

J.W. Rinzler Brings The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi to NYCC - 2013 article at Coming Soon…

^ A snippet of the above article:-

‘Considering Lucas once cut over 100 shots in a single day of editing “Return of the Jedi,” it makes sense that the guy should be presented with an abundance of visual options for that stage of the filmmaking process. “Black Friday was something that even the people who had worked on the film had forgotten, but it was in the archives. George, in post-production, when he started editing the space battle and all the visual effects shots realized that there was a lot of work that needed to be done and it hadn’t been storyboarded the way he really wanted it to be.” Rinzler continued, “He threw out about upwards of 100 shots and upwards of three or four months work and the visual effects artist, Ken Ralston, the divisional effects supervisor, was most affected.” Rinzler dubbed Black Friday “a real low point in the post-production cycle.”’

 

Ewok Orgies and 9 other things new book reveals about ROTJ - 2013 article at MTV (see '8. INSANE LUNATIC MANIACS (ILM))…

^ 'The post-production process at Industrial Light and Magic on “Return of the Jedi” represents the gold-standard pinnacle of the bygone analog effects era. It would have been hard on any company, even one with as many geniuses as this one (Dennis Muren, Ken Ralston, Richard Edlund, Phil Tippett… even an 18-year-old David Fincher!), but coming off the tail-end of effects for “Poltergeist,” “E.T.” and “Star Trek II” meant everyone was ALREADY burnt the f**k out.

On November 22nd, Lucas dropped a morale-devastating bomb on the company in what came to be known as “Black Friday,” when certain subplot cuts (including the Death Star targeting Endor and Imperial countermeasures flooding the superstructure ducts of the battle station) caused nearly 100 FINISHED effects shots to be scrapped. Ken Ralston and company all went out and “got loaded” after the axe fell, and Kazanjian was left speechless at the quarter-million-dollars worth of work chucked. While some of the live-action elements of this material wound up on the Blu-ray archives, none of these effects have ever seen the light of day.

Steam was let off in a variety of ways, including some hilarious storyboards drawn by Joe Johnston showing Admiral Ackbar in a lobster bib or an Imperial trooper blowing the head of an Ewok.

“‘Jedi’ almost killed everybody, every department,” admits Lucas.’

 

"On what was dubbed “Black Friday”, 100,000 feet of film stock containing visual effects shots that couldn’t be read in an optical printer were unceremoniously dumped by George Lucas - a 2020 @agraphafx twitter thread

^ A screenshot of the thread:-

 
 

• If you know of any additional information on these thrown-away shots from ‘Black Friday’, please post them up in here…

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• Could the editing of ROTJ’s ship battle scenes for The Battle Of Endor have been affected by ‘Black Friday’?

 
This is very much just me spitballing…

I was reading through the intriguing B-Wings in ROTJ, editing epiphany 2011 discussion thread on here, and got to wondering if some of the ‘haze’ / confusion around some of the Battle Of Endor footage, and perhaps some of the editing for these scenes… may have been a result of ‘Black Friday’?..

By some ‘haze’ and ‘confusion’ I mean the disappearance of the B-Wings from scenes mid-way through the Rebel attack.

Plus some of the editing results in lines of dialogue that don’t seem to tally with what is happening onscreen…

This is especially in regards to the scene where Wedge’s informs both Red 2 and Red 3 to “pull in”, Red 3’s “Got it” reply, immediately before being blown up whilst she is flying over a larger Rebel cruiser, by two Imperial fighters on her tail, who are then themselves destroyed by a Y-Wing.

There is also the confusing ‘edit chop job’ using a duplicate shot of a Rebel pilot to try and portray 2 Rebel pilots?; ‘Gray Leader’ and ‘Red 2’ - Who is Red 2?.

These scenes can be found in the videos linked below…

 

Star Wars Episode VI: B-Wing Fighter Model Featurette’:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbsNi_ex24s

^ a 1 minute video with B-Wing designer Bill George on the original plans for the new B-Wing ships to feature in more scenes for the attack on the Death Star II in Return Of The Jedi. And also the reason why they didn’t:-

“unfortunately because the wings were very very thin, when it got pretty far away on the blue screen, the wings had a tendency to disappear. And because of that it played a less significant role in the attack of the under-construction Death Star”

 

Indeed, when watching the Battle For Endor scenes there are seemingly no B-Wings featured on screen in the DSII attack, after Admiral Ackbar utters the now-legendary meme-etic words of “It’s a trap!”

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - Endor Space Battle’:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh7nhTf_2m0 - a 4 minute video at the Star Wars Saga LatinAmerica youtube channel.

 
 

As can be seen from some of the few deleted scenes released on blu ray ‘extras’ re for the Battle Of Endor in the videos below, there was indeed filmed footage of pilots in their B-Wing cockpits - including a Sullustan and a Mon Calamari. Yet unfortunately no B-Wing cockpit shots were used in the final film.

It also features British actress Poppy Hands as A-Wing pilot Sila Kott (‘Red Three’) - in her own voice - before being re-dubbed with an American male voice for the released cut of the ROTJ…

 

'The 3 Female Fighter Pilots Cut From ‘Return of The Jedi’:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSCp4LbKp6s - a 4 minute video from the 70sSciFiBoy youtube channel.

 
 

Return of the Jedi: Battle of Endor: The Lost Rebels’:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHnhxHMJcJ4 - a 10 minute video from the Salith Taydan youtube channel.

 
 

Return of the Jedi (Deleted Scenes)(including B-Wing and Rebel pilots):-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlfZsMPfYIM - a 20 minute video at the FETT4HIRE youtube channel.

 
 

• Additional info on the B-Wing ships, their pilots, and flight suits… can be found here:-

 
The ‘Scenes Cut from Star Wars’ wookieepedia page also has some information on cut scenes for Return Of The Jedi, with both complete, and incomplete scenes for the Battle Of Endor:-

https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Scenes_cut_from_Star_Wars#Episode_VI_-_Return_of_the_Jedi

 

This ‘Star Wars Afcicianado’ article at also has some additional information as to the female pilots in ROTJ:-

https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.com/2011/09/girl-power-jedis-female-fighter-pilots.html

 

Some quality Nilo Rodis-Jamero concept art for the B-Wing uniforms, & more B-Wing info and images on the pilots and ships:-

‘Chive Cast 111 - The B-Wing Pilot Returns’ - http://blog.theswca.com/2020/12/chive-cast-111-b-wing-pilot-returns.html

 

This article also has images of B-Wing pilots in their red flight suits - as well as some appearing in green flight suits too:-

https://starwarsataglance.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/slayn-corpil-asf-01-b-wing-heavy-fast-attack-fighter (B-Wing Pilots section)
 

 

 

Many of us are familiar with the famous piece of concept art by Ralph McQuarrie depicting B-wings taking on and destroying an Imperial Star Destroyer, made for Return Of The Jedi:-

 

The more modern adaptation on McQuarrie’s B-Wing concept art (as appears on StarWars.com’s Databank page for the B-Wing):-

 
^ It seems this concept art was based on a planned idea for part of the story in the Battle For Endor… and likely not completed or shown on-screen due to limitation of the B-Wings being filmed in distance shots on a blue screen at the time (as mentioned above).

Yet the offscreen/unshown events of this aspect of the story from the Battle Of Endor, told in full, below…

 

• Blade Squadron…

 
'Blade Squadron is a two-part short story written by David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams that appeared in ‘Star Wars Insider 149’ and ‘Star Wars Insider 150’.

It was inspired by artwork depicting an unused battle scene from Return of the Jedi, and the story focuses on a squadron of B-wing starfighters on a suicide mission during the Battle of Endor.

Blade Squadron is the first Insider short story, and the first story outside of the films and The Clone Wars TV series, that is part of the new canon, as defined since the April 25, 2014 reboot. The story was later reprinted on StarWars•com.’

^ from ‘Blade Squadron (short story)’ wookieepedia page - https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Blade_Squadron_(short_story)

 

The ‘Blade Squadron’ story that was re-printed on the official Star Wars website, can be found here (from 2015):-

https://web.archive.org/web/20190910025656/https://www.starwars.com/news/blade-squadron-part-one

https://web.archive.org/web/20190719002658/https://www.starwars.com/news/blade-squadron-part-two

 

From the ‘Blade Squadron’ at Battle Of Endor page - https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Blade_Squadron#Battle_of_Endor

'Blade Squadron participated in the Battle of Endor, led by Wing Commander Adon Fox, as a full B-wing flight and many of the detachment’s newest recruits flying their first mission. Upon realizing the trap the Empire had set, the squadron’s rearguard mission was promptly aborted, and Blade Squadron was reassigned to attack the blockade of Imperial ships. Adon Fox ordered his B-wings to target the Imperial-class Star Destroyer ‘Devastator’.

The ‘Devastator’ was successfully destroyed along with Admiral Jhared Montferrat, its commanding officer. This cleared a pathway for the remaining Rebel Alliance starfighters to start their attack on the Death Star. Blade Squadron suffered heavy losses, including the death of Blade Leader at the hands of Commander Gradd’s TIE Interceptor’

 

The following video provides a little more information on ‘Blade Squadron’ at the Battle Of Ender…

Blade Squadron History: The Battle of Endor through the Battle of Jakku’:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3td7PmuCVfc - a 3 and bit minute video at the Star Wars Explained youtube channel (in 2017).

 

 

• ROTJ Storyboards show B-Wings destroying the Executor’s shields - not A-Wings - as shown in the film…

 
In the storyboards for Return Of The Jedi, there are also these images of B-Wings attacking and destroying the shields of Vader’s ship; the massive 'Executor’ super star destroyer - and NOT the A-Wings as shown in the final film (this is shortly before the screaming A-Wing pilot flies into its bridge and takes the ship down):-
 

^ in the description given for this image in the book ‘Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy’ is…

‘Meanwhile rebel fighters swarm around Vader’s Super Star Destroyer; two B-Wings fire “torpedoes” and obliterate its dome’
 

A few seconds later (before those forward batteries could be intensified - as ordered by Admiral Piett)

 

 

• The storyboard images of B-Wings at the Battle Of Endor (images not seen in the final film)…

 

 

 

^ from Page 336 of ‘Star Wars: Storyboards - The Original Trilogy’ book, by JW Rinzler.

 

 

• Differences in the Revenge / Return Of The Jedi scripts - compared to the final cut of the film…

 
There ARE some additional scenes for the Battle Of Endor, as well as some scenes for the Battle Of Endor being in slightly places in the script when compared to where they appear in the film itself… referenced here in the ‘Revenge Of Jedi - 3rd Draft script’, dated 1st December 1981:-

www.starwarz.com/starkiller/revenge-of-the-jedi-expanded-script
 

^ The above is a re-creation script - including scenes from shooting schedules in Philip Peecher’s 1983 “Making of Jedi” book:-

'Mark Johnson’s Shooting script re-creation notes as of 2/3/06:

I started out with the shooting schedule in Philip Peecher’s “Making of Jedi” book, making a list of scene numbers with locations. From there, I took the published version of the script and matched up the text of the scenes with the numbers of the scenes as provided by Peecher’s book. Since the list in Peecher’s book was incomplete, I had to rely on call sheets found on the internet to flesh out it further. Then, since many of the call sheets so closely match the dialogue in the novelization, I conclude the novel is based on the shooting script. I used the novel as a guide to fill in the rest of the scenes. I don’t know if it is 100% accurate, but I think I have it pretty close.’

 
^ A quick caveat; in general, scripts often change on near-on all films - whether revisions, drafts, shooting scripts, through to ad-libs and alterations during the actually filming scenes (and sometimes pick-ups and/or reshoots after production). Obviously in this case, scripts around the time of November 22nd of 1982, do illuminate what may have been planned for the film at the time…

 

 

 

• Summing up…

 
Even if this isn’t the case - and if ‘Black Friday’ has nothing to do with the editing of the ship battle scenes for the Battle Of Endor - or lack of B-Wing footage - it would still be fantastic to see those seemingly forgot-about ‘thrown-out’ shots… or hear more about these shots in more detail, and how they would play into both the story and the battle footage scenes…

So if you know of, or have heard of, any mentions of these shots… please post them up in here, as well as your ideas and thoughts as to whether ‘Black Friday’ may have had an affect on the way those scenes in ROTJ were edited (or not)

 

An addendum:-

Despite there now being four Special Editions of the Original Trilogy films (1997, 2004, 2011, and 2019), it is a both somewhat baffling and disappointing that George Lucas did not revisit the Battle Of Endor scenes. To later include or re-shoot the additional B-Wing footage… that could not be included because of the technical limitations and design of the B-Wings at the time of filming… to complete more of his original ‘vision’(s) for the films…
 

Though adywan’s Return Of The Jedi: Revisited Edit just may attempt that : Ideas thread for adywan edits : ESB & ROTJ Wishlist

 

 

And just because it is a cool fun watch…

Star Wars Episode VI: Death Star II Space Battle Overview Featurette’:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfcI_SVTGVA - a 4 minute video with Bill George talking about how the overall battle was shot.

 

 

 

• To complete…

 
I’ve still to check through the following…

• James Kahn’s 1983 ROTJ novelisation
• John Phillip Peecher’s 1983 ‘Making Of ROTJ’ book
• JW Rinzler’s 2013 ‘Making Of ROTJ’ book (especially Chapters 9, 10, & 11)
JW Rinzler’s ‘Star Wars: Storyboards - Original Trilogy’ book = ✔️ (no additional scenes / mentions in this book)

… for additional mentions of B-Wing footage / additional ship or effects scenes at the Battle Of Endor / ‘Black Friday’.
 

I’m in much need of some new reading glasses for book reading - so it may take a while for me to do.

If anyone has these scripts, books, or other sources to hand, and wishes to contribute content from them (as well as their own comments, thoughts, takes, and ideas), please do. 👍

 

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The Star Wars At A Glance posts are particularly intriguing/illuminating here (specifically the end of the Y-Wing post, the B-Wing post, and “Unsung Heroes of the Battle of Endor”). You have to wonder if the elimination of Vivienne Chandler from the film is a result of Black Friday (and not having enough time to re-do all the effects for her role), or maybe her performance wasn’t that good (see also: Dermot Crowley’s reduced role as Crix Madine), or if the Battle was just way too long and bloated. Unfortunately, it’s probably impossible to discern the truth as it may be a mixture of the effects & bloat (like why they cut Jerjerrod’s moral dilemma).

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timdiggerm said:

The Star Wars At A Glance posts are particularly intriguing/illuminating here (specifically the end of the Y-Wing post, the B-Wing post, and “Unsung Heroes of the Battle of Endor”). You have to wonder if the elimination of Vivienne Chandler from the film is a result of Black Friday (and not having enough time to re-do all the effects for her role), or maybe her performance wasn’t that good (see also: Dermot Crowley’s reduced role as Crix Madine), or if the Battle was just way too long and bloated. Unfortunately, it’s probably impossible to discern the truth as it may be a mixture of the effects & bloat (like why they cut Jerjerrod’s moral dilemma).

Yep, unfortunately it seems we’ll likely never know - unless one or more of the effects crew spills more details on the ‘Black Friday’ story - though hopefully there is more information somewhere out there too…
 

I wasn’t going to mention deleted scenes with Crix Madine, the Rebels of the Falcon, or the Moff Jerjerrod dilemma scenes in here for that reason - they could simply be regular ‘cut or alterative scenes’ - as there are more any other feature film.

However, as I’d already put together some content on them whilst looking for ‘Black Friday’ content, here goes…

 
 

• More Rebels on the Millennium Falcon - manning the turret guns, maintaining the ship, preparing for small arms battle…?

 

 
An interview with Trevor Butterfield - the actor playing ‘Lt Blount’ - the younger of two Rebel soldiers manning the turret guns on the Falcon at the Batlle Of Endor:-

https://starwarsinterviews.com/original-trilogy/episode-v-the-empire-strikes-back/trevor-butterfield-lt-blount

 

If I can find an interview with Michael Stevens - the actor playing ‘Airen Cracken’ - the older Rebel soldier manning the turret gun on the Falcon I’ll add it up here (if anyone knows of any such interviews please post them up and I’ll add them here - thank you).

 

https://starwarsinterviews.com is a very useful and informative website - with many interviews with the lesser known cast, and also some of the crew working on the Original Trilogy films.

 
 

 
As can be seen in the previously listed ‘Return of the Jedi (Deleted Scenes)’ 20 minute youtube video, around 15 minutes and 30 seconds into the video… there are also Rebel soldiers running around the Falcon… two of them, as above, man the turret guns. Whilst others, carry parts around the ship to help maintain it, bring the power back on, and put out fires etc. Yet others, with their rifles, are seemingly running around preparing for small arms battle? (or maybe deployment into one?)
 

 

 

• Crix Madine (and ‘his’ cool beard!)…

 

 
As can be seen in the previously listed ‘Return of the Jedi (Deleted Scenes)’ 20 minute youtube video, the character of Crix Madine appears to have an originally larger role at the Battle Of Endor (approximately 18 minutes into the video).

Obviously we’ll likely never know for sure whether this is due to ‘Black Friday’ - or just scenes cut from the film, or as an alternative take - as happens with near-on every feature film.

(It possibly could be an alternative to Admiral Ackbar’s scenes give the striking similarities of the bridge set used for the ship(s)?)

 

An interview with Dermot Crowley - the actor who played Crix Madine:-

https://starwarsinterviews.com/original-trilogy/episode-vi-return-of-the-jedi/dermot-crowley-general-madine

 

A short video interview with Dermot Crowley:-

DERMOT CROWLEY Interview - Unseen Battle Sequence’:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhtRwrlqmRE - a 2 and bit minute interview at the Star Wars 100 Interviews youtube channel.

 
 

^ a rare image of Madine celebrating the Rebel victory… or maybe the actor had finished shooting his scenes for the day? 😉

 

 

• Moff Jerjerrod (though unlikely to be much to do with ‘Black Friday’ - given the known earlier script revisions)…

 
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cf_aLpDMf1U - 30 seconds into this video for the rarely seen alternative story with Moff Jerjerrod…

(cough)
 
 

 
 

From the previously listed ‘Return of the Jedi (Deleted Scenes)’ 20 minute youtube video, around 7 minutes and 20 seconds into this video… are the deleted scenes with Moff Jerjerrod, played by actor Michael Pennington.
 

Some behind the scenes information to the script changes involving Moff Jerjerrod (but unlikely to be anything do do with ‘Black Friday’) can be found, here:-

https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Tiaan_Jerjerrod#Behind_the_scenes
 

An interview with actor Michael Pennington on his role as Moff Jerjerrod:-

https://starwarsinterviews.com/original-trilogy/episode-vi-return-of-the-jedi/michael-pennington-moff-jerjerrod

 
 

A few fan editors have attempted editing the deleted scenes with Moff Jerjerrod, back into the ROTJ story. A couple here:-
 

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Recut - Jerjerrod’s Conflict’:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYwHoZbZGzg - a 4 and a bit minute video at the editingsithlord youtube channel.

 
 

'Moff Jerjerrod’s Conflict - Return of the Jedi Extended Ending:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gzzu0PF8i04 - a 6 minute minute video at the NV II youtube channel.

 
 

There are also some fan reconstructions of the earlier deleted scene with Vader temporarily choking Jerjerrod:-
 

Return Of The Jedi - Deleted Scene - Vader Chokes Jerjerrod - Fan Reconstruction

www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXxR-TZxiVE - a 53 second vide at the MariVision youtube channel.
 

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I knew of the deleted scenes from the blu-ray and internet chatter at the time, but don’t recall anything about this Black Friday.
It is really surprising more isn’t know about it, from the effects crew talking about it in interviews over time, or just more leaking out in general. Books have been written on less! Those YouTubers will cover anything for clicks, yet nothing much on this at all.
What an interesting story of events.

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I was thinking more about this, and I wonder if the Executor’s demise is from before Black Friday. It is infamously not all that good looking, but maybe have been deemed to difficult to recreate. Purely speculative, but it’s the one part of the extant space battle footage that looks bad.