In 1978, CBS aired the Star Wars Holiday Special, a two-hour spin-off film 18 months after the success of A New Hope. The special never aired again. A new documentary, A Disturbance in the Force, attempts to figure out what went wrong with the most reviled Star Wars adventure in franchise history.
In the first trailer for the documentary ahead of its premiere at South by Southwest (SXSW), A Disturbance in the Force takes viewers back in time to search for answers about how and why the special was made. The special starred the Star Wars’ marquee cast, including Harrison Ford (Shrinking) as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher (The Empire Strikes Back), and Mark Hamill (Return of the Jedi) as Luke Skywalker. The plot involved Han Solo and Chewbacca (The Force Awakens’ Peter Mayhew) traveling to Kashyyyk, the Wookie home planet, to celebrate “Life Day.”
Star Wars Holiday Special aired during Thanksgiving week on November 17, 1978. 13 million people tuned in for the special that “Weird Al” Yankovic (Weird) calls the “Holy Grail.” The bizarre special was destroyed and ridiculed by critics and fans. Even George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars who had minimal involvement in the special’s development, did not enjoy the Star Wars Holiday Special.
The documentary is directed by Jeremy Coon (Napoleon Dynamite) and Steve Kozak (Whose Line Is It Anyway?). The doc features interviews with celebrity fans and two of the special’s writers, Bruce Vilanch (Hollywood Squares) and Steve Binder (Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special).
A Disturbance in the Force premieres at SXSW on March 11.