18 Things to Look for the Next Time You Watch Star Wars

Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

It must be tough being arguably the most influential movie series of all time. With countless websites and message boards dedicated to picking apart individual movies, scenes and moments, it might seem that there’s nothing left to see after you’ve watched the original Star Wars trilogy for approximately the one millionth time. But you’d be wrong.

Despite the fact that fans and viewers have obsessed over A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi since the films were released in the late 1970s and early '80s, there are still some awesome details to look out for when you marathon the movies for Star Wars Day.

STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE (1977)

 

1. HIDDEN DASHBOARD DICE ARE A BIG DEAL IN THE SEQUELS AND SPINOFFS.

dice in Star Wars

Unless you’re an eagle-eyed Star Wars superfan, viewers of 2017’s The Last Jedi might have been a bit confused about the importance of Han Solo’s dice, which were used as a reminder of the fallen smuggler. The prop only appears in a single scene in the 1977 original—and no characters even mention them—but they popped up again in The Last Jedi. Rumor has it they’ll make an appearance in the upcoming spinoff movie, Solo. But if you want to see where it all began, look above Luke and Obi-Wan’s heads in the scene where they’re in the Millennium Falcon cockpit, marveling over the size of the Death Star.

2. LUKE’S WOMP RAT KILLER IS PARKED IN HIS TATOOINE GARAGE.

Luke's womp rat killer in Star Wars

When Luke and the rest of the X-Wing fighter pilots are getting debriefed about the size of the small exhaust port design flaw before their attack run on the Death Star, a disbelieving Wedge Antilles tells Luke, “That's impossible, even for a computer.” To which the young Skywalker responds, “I used to bulls-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They're not much bigger than two meters.”

It turns out, we get a glimpse of the scourge of Tatooine’s womp rats earlier in the movie. Luke is seen playing with a small toy version of the T-16, while the real deal is parked in the garage behind him.

3. AN EXPANDED UNIVERSE FAVORITE MAKES AN APPEARANCE IN MOS EISLEY.

Outrider in Star Wars

You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Mos Eisley, but you will still find a beloved fan favorite character who only appears in the Expanded Universe. One of the most popular non-canon stories, now called Legends, was the 1996 novel Shadows of the Empire, which spawned a popular video game featuring the Han Solo-esque mercenary Dash Rendar. In a change made for the 1997 Star Wars Special Editions, you can see Rendar’s ship, the Outrider, blasting off in the background of the decrepit spaceport as Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids drive through the city streets.

4. LUKE MIGHT BE A FORCE GHOST ... OR JUST A STILL PHOTO.

ghostly image of Luke in Star Wars

Was Luke always a Force ghost!? That might be one fan theory too much, but an image early on in A New Hope gives the spooky theory some credence.

In an establishing shot of the Lars homestead on Tatooine, when Uncle Owen looks for Luke after he goes searching for the missing R2-D2, a ghostly image of Luke can be seen in the top right corner of the hovel. Does this mean Luke has been dead all this time? Probably not. To save costs on film, Lucas inserted a still image that unwittingly featured a hidden Mark Hamill.

5. THE CLUMSY STORMTROOPER WHO JUST HAD TO POOP.

Among the first behind-the-scenes stories you learn about as a Star Wars fan is the infamous stormtrooper who hits their head on a Death Star blast door in pursuit of Luke and Leia. The second thing you could learn about the blunder is that it was a bad case of having to go number-two that caused actor Laurie Goode to bonk his head.

“On about the fourth take, as I shuffled along, I felt my stomach rumbling, and 'bang,' I hit my head," he told The Hollywood Reporter of the infamous scene. "As I wasn't moving too fast, it was more of a scuffed bash, so it didn't hurt, but as no one shouted 'cut,' I thought the shot wasn't wide enough for me to be in frame.”

6. GEORGE LUCAS PUT HIS FIRST MOVIE IN THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY.

The young mastermind behind the Star Wars saga got his start in another, very different sci-fi story. His debut, THX 1138, told the Orwellian story of the titular character trying to break free of a drug-regulated dystopian future. It’s decidedly dour stuff, and it’s perhaps no surprise that Lucas found greater success with Star Wars. But he never abandoned his first movie. The number “1138” can be found sprinkled throughout various parts of the saga.

In A New Hope, Luke tries to fool the Imperial guards by telling them Chewie is a prisoner transfer from cell block 1138. The full title of Lucas’s debut is extremely difficult to see, but can be found on a computer monitor behind C-3PO when he and Artoo are trapped in the Death Star hangar control room.

1138 in Star Wars

In The Empire Strikes Back, General Rieekan orders Rogues 10 and 11 to station 3-8 on Hoth, and in Return of the Jedi, Princess Leia has "1138" painted on the helmet of her Boushh disguise.

1138 in Star Wars

7. LUCAS ADDED AN EXTRA TO FIX A SPECIAL EDITION CONTINUITY ERROR.

A Biggs/Luke reunion scene before the Death Star attack run was added for the Special Edition of A New Hope, but that’s not the only thing added in the scene. Lucas included a hidden wipe when an extra walks in front of the camera as a way to hide part of Red Leader's original dialogue, which stated that the veteran pilot had previously met Anakin Skywalker. This detail would have been a continuity error with the then-upcoming Prequel Trilogy. You can see the wipe based on R2-D2’s position in the top right corner of the frame.

Red Leader’s original dialogue in the script was, “I met your father once when I was just a boy, he was a great pilot. You'll do all right. If you've got half of your father's skill, you'll do better than all right.”

8. BEWARE OF REUSED BOUNTY HUNTERS.

reused bounty hunters in Star Wars

reused bounty hunters in Strar Wars

reused bounty hunters in Strar Wars

George Lucas’s saga was known for revolutionizing the concept of a lived-in future. But what about a retroactively recycled future? The head of the droid bounty hunter IG-88, who along with a handful of other mercenaries like Boba Fett is tasked by Darth Vader to find the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back, can be seen as a lamp structure in the cantina scene in A New Hope. A similar droid can be seen awaiting incineration on Bespin.

STAR WARS: EPISODE V - THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

 

9. TWO KEY VISUAL ARTISTS ARE PART OF THE REBEL ALLIANCE ON HOTH.

Star Wars sports some of the most distinctive and memorable designs in cinema history. Besides Lucas, the two people perhaps most responsible for those iconic looks are concept artist Ralph McQuarrie and designer and special effects artist Joe Johnston. While their creations—like the Millennium Falcon—speak for themselves onscreen, the pair appear in the same shot onscreen as well.

Lookout for Johnston as the Captain telling a pair of Rebels about the escape plan on Hoth, while McQuarrie can be seen hurriedly walking from right to left.

cameos in Star Wars

10. AN AT-AT GETS A LITTLE HELP FALLING DOWN.

falling AT-AT in Star Wars

The harrowing Hoth attack sequence is capped off onscreen with an Imperial AT-AT exploding and tipping over. The sound effects and triumphant music really sell the scene, but a slightly hidden detail reminds you that the sequence was painstakingly created using detailed models. If you look at the bottom right of the smoldering AT-AT you can see a small rod nudging the model over to sell the supposedly massive machine falling on its side.

11. YOU CAN EAT THE ASTEROIDS.

The tactile nature of The Empire Strikes Back’s special effects in 1980 made it so you couldn’t just push some buttons and input CG to create rousing sequences like the asteroid field chase between the Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighters. So when they needed asteroids, special effects whizzes like effects cameraman and eventual Return of the Jedi visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston went to the grocery store.

"We had to shoot all these asteroids flying everywhere, so, just for laughs, we went out and bought a bunch of potatoes at the local store,” Ralston said. “We stuck those on rods and we started shooting potatoes, but not telling anybody ... They look pretty much like rock; they’re just smoother and go flying by the cockpit."

12. BOBA FETT IS UNMASKED ON BESPIN ... KIND OF.

Jeremy Bullock as an Imperial officer in Star Wars

Actor Jeremy Bulloch landed the role of Boba Fett after his half-brother—The Empire Strikes Back producer Robert Watts—asked him to audition. But being the most notorious bounty hunter in the galaxy isn’t Bulloch’s only role. An actor dropped out on the day he was supposed to play an Imperial officer avoiding Luke and escorting Princess Leia through Cloud City, so Bulloch jumped in as a quick day-of replacement.

13. MICKEY MOUSE IS ON CLOUD CITY.

Hidden Mickey in Star Wars

Hidden Mickey in Star Wars

Disney acquired Lucasfilm over three decades after the release of The Empire Strikes Back, but anybody who watches the climactic I-am-your-father battle between Luke and Vader on Cloud City could have anticipated the house of mouse and Lucasfilm’s destiny together. As Luke and Vader battle near a window, which is eventually smashed by the Sith lord, the three-circled silhouette of Mickey Mouse can be seen in a Bespin workstation in the background. It seems the creators of Empire just wanted to get into the Hidden Mickey game.

14. LANDO CALRISSIAN IS A PUPPET.

Lando puppet in Star Wars

Before Lando Calrissian escapes with Leia and Chewie at the end of Empire, the trio head to the bottom of Cloud City aboard the Millennium Falcon to save Luke, who is dangling from some space scaffolding. Instead of creating a full-size portion of the Falcon showing actor Billy Dee Williams emerging to save Luke, a miniature panel and a custom-built Lando puppet was created using soft foam and papier-mâché to sell the effect. The Lando puppet can be seen in a split-second shot right before Luke drops down into the Falcon’s open hatch.

STAR WARS: EPISODE VI - RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

 

15. EWOKS SPEAK ENGLISH?

While you could chalk this one up to your ears playing tricks on you, it does seem like the Ewoks listening to C-3PO turn to each other and say, “That guy’s wise.” While we can’t detect any other Ewok Anglophiles in Return of the Jedi, we can say the rest of Ewokese is based on Tibetan, Nepali, and Kalmyk languages spoken in Asia.

16. RETURN OF THE JEDI'S DIRECTOR WORKS FOR THE EMPIRE.

Richard Marquand in Star Wars

While we can vouch for his job as director of Return of the Jedi, we can’t vouch for filmmaker Richard Marquand’s allegiance to the Empire. You can spot Marquand as one of the AT-ST pilots who yells, “Get him off of there” when Chewie and a few Ewoks try to steal the Imperial machine on Endor. You might also recognize the director’s Welsh accent as EV-9D9, the torturous droid at Jabba’s palace that assigns Threepio and Artoo to Jabba’s sail barge.

17. THE GUY WHO MADE EVERY STAR WARS SOUND WANTS YOU TO FREEZE.

Ben Burtt in Star Wars

From the hum of the lightsabers to Artoo’s squeals, sound designer Ben Burtt is responsible for the iconic sound effects that make up the Star Wars universe. But the guy who has given this onscreen galaxy some memorable sounds also has a cameo. He plays Imperial Colonel Dyer who catches Han Solo and the group of Rebels attempting to blow up the shield generator, only to be pushed off a ledge. 

"I had the opportunity to play a very minor part in the film as an Imperial officer," Burrt said in the Return of the Jedi audio commentary. "In the Endor power station, who jumps out from behind a wall, at the power station, and holds a gun on Han Solo then gets hit with a toolbox and then falling into a generator room below. And my big line was 'Freeze!'"

18. DARTH VADER WIELDS LUKE’S LIGHTSABER IN THEIR FINAL FIGHT.

Darth Vader using Luke's lightsaber

During the climactic lightsaber battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the evil Sith lord has a phantom lightsaber. You can see Vader holding Luke’s distinctive laser sword while taunting him aboard the Super Star Destroyer. This little continuity error can be chalked up to a deleted scene: When Luke hides under the platform, he was supposed to drop his lightsaber and roll it over to Vader as a way to make peace. Vader picks it up, creating the shot that stayed in the movie. A form of the deleted scenario actually made its way into an early Return of the Jedi poster when the movie was still called Revenge of the Jedi. On the poster, Luke can be seen wielding a red saber, while Vader has a blue one (though Luke wields his own custom made green saber in the final movie).

All screen shots courtesy 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Additional Sources:

The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, by J.W. Rinzler

Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual History, Updated and Expanded Edition, by Daniel Wallace

17 Funny Facts About Schitt's Creek

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Schitt’s Creek is a classic fish-out-of-water story: After they lose their entire video store fortune to the government because their business manager hasn't been paying their taxes, the Rose family—parents Johnny (Eugene Levy) and Moira (Catherine O'Hara) and their adult children David (Daniel Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy)—head to the only asset the government has allowed them to keep: the town of Schitt’s Creek. The cosmopolitan Roses, who had purchased the town as a joke, move in to the local motel, where they share two adjoining rooms; they stick out like sore thumbs in their new home.

But at its heart, Schitt’s Creek is a show about family. “We’ve used a fish out of water scenario to help dramatize that story,” co-creator and star Daniel Levy told Assignment X, “forcing them into a motel room and ... examining what it means to be a family and what relationships are and having the time to concentrate and focus on who they are to each other and what they mean to each other.” Here are a few things you might not have known about the series.

1. Reality TV inspired some elements of Schitt's Creek.

Annie Murphy as Alexis Rose and Jennifer Robertson as Jocelyn Schitt in Schitt's Creek.
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Daniel told Out in 2015 that “It really just started with me being in Los Angeles, knowing that I wanted to write. I had been watching some reality TV at the time and was concentrating on what would happen if one of these wealthy families would lose everything. Would the Kardashians still be the Kardashians without their money?”

Annie Murphy recounted at 92Y Talks in 2018 that she looked to the Kardashians for inspiration for her character. “I watched a bunch of clips—YouTube clips, because I couldn’t bring myself to watch entire shows—of, you know, Kardashians and that kind of thing” for some of Alexis’s tone and mannerisms, including the particular way she holds her hands, she explained. “When they hold their handbags, they hold their purses [on their arms] with their broken wrist this way,” Murphy said, pantomiming someone holding a bag with their hand hanging limply, palm up. For Alexis, she flipped her wrist so that her hand was hanging palm down (you can see it in action here).

2. Schitt's Creek is a family affair.

To flesh out his idea, Levy turned to his dad, frequent Christopher Guest collaborator (and American Pie star) Eugene. The two had never worked together before; in fact, pre-Schitt’s, Daniel had been adamant about doing his own thing. “People are so quick to judge children of people in entertainment,” he told Assignment X. “I just thought, if nobody knows the association and I’m able to build something for myself, then I can introduce my dad—when people actually respect me for what I’ve done, as opposed to snap-judge why I got the job or what I was doing.”

Why go to him for Schitt’s? As Daniel explained to NPR, he had seen the family-loses-it-all idea “played out on mainstream television and sitcoms, but I'd never really seen it explored through the lens of a certain style of realist comedy that my dad does so well. So I came to him and pitched the idea and asked him if he would be interested at all in just fleshing it out and seeing if there was anything there. And fortunately, there was some interest and we started talking.”

Eugene told The New York Times that he was thrilled to have the chance to collaborate with his son: “My heart was actually palpitating. You could see it over my shirt.”

(Eugene and Daniel aren't the only Levys on the show, either: Sarah Levy, daughter of Eugene and sister of Daniel, also appears on Schitt’s Creek as Twyla Sands, the lone waitress at the town’s most happening diner, Cafe Tropical.)

3. Eugene Levy came up with the title Schitt's Creek.

“It was actually just out of coincidence really," Daniel told Out. "He was having a dinner conversation a few weeks prior, about this theoretical town of Schitt's Creek: You would have Schitt Hardware and Schitt Grocers." When they were researching ways that people had lost their fortunes, they came across stories of people who had bought towns for various reasons and later ended up bankrupt. “We thought, well, what if this family, as a joke for the son's 16th birthday, found this town called Schitt's Creek, bought it as a joke because of the name and then ended up having to live there?” Daniel said.

The show’s name can make promotional tours interesting: Not all TV or radio outlets can say it, for fear of being fined for using profanity. On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, for example, the name of the show has to appear on screen every time it’s spoken aloud.

4. Annie Murphy also auditioned for the role of Stevie Budd.

At a 92Y Talks discussion in 2016, Murphy revealed that she auditioned for both Stevie Budd—the deadpan concierge at the Schitt’s Creek motel where the Roses make their home—and Alexis, the self-centered socialite character she would eventually play. “I’ve never worked so hard at an audition in my life,” she said. “I made my husband rehearse it with me just into the ground.”

In the presentation pilot—which is meant to secure a season order and not destined to air on TV—Alexis had been played by Abby Elliott, who couldn’t continue on the show because of another project. So auditions were held in Los Angeles, where Daniel said they saw “hundreds” of people for the role.

“There had to be some kind of intrinsic likeability to this family, otherwise there’s really no reason to watch—because on paper they’re not very likeable,” he said. “I had been sitting through two days of auditions, and you see these girls come in and they’re dressed like Paris Hilton and they’re playing that part, which was essentially the part that was written on paper. But what I was looking for was what Annie brought in, which was this wonderfully natural likeability to this girl who is so unlikeable, who is so, like, horrifyingly self-involved … It all kind of fell into place, and I called my dad and said ‘I found Alexis, thank god.’”

But Eugene’s immediate response, according to Daniel, was that Murphy had brown hair, unlike the blonde vision of Alexis he had in his head from the pilot. So they had Murphy read for Stevie, because, Daniel said, “I’m not not having her on the show.” When Murphy landed the role of Alexis, she dyed her hair blonde, and Emily Hampshire was cast as Stevie (who had been played by Lindsay Sloane in the pilot).

5. Emily Hampshire doesn't remember anything about her audition.

Emily Hampshire as Stevie Budd in Schitt's Creek.
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When she got the audition for Schitt's Creek, Hampshire was living in L.A. and going through a rough time. "I literally had $800 in my bank account, hadn't worked in a year, was getting a divorce," she tells Mental Floss.

To make matters worse, she was also breaking out into hives when she went out on auditions. So when her agent called about Schitt's, Hampshire said she absolutely couldn't go read in person; what she could do instead was put herself on tape. But at her agent’s insistence, Hampshire went in to audition in front of Daniel and a casting director—and it was a memorable experience for everyone involved but her: Hampshire says she doesn't remember any of it.

Thankfully, Levy does. “Emily came in and immediately said, ‘I’m sorry, this is going to be terrible,’” he recalled at 92Y Talks in 2018. “She did it, and it was great, and I remember saying … ‘Why don’t we just try it where she gets a little more kick out of these people. She’s not just judging them, she’s like, enjoying them, too.’ So she did it again, and you can tell when it clicks … and I remember saying, ‘Great, we’re good,’ and she was like, ‘no, it was—oh god, it was terrible, it was so bad.’” Then, she covered her head with her shirt to hide. Hampshire doesn’t remember that part, either, but, said Levy, “I remember it fondly.”

6. Stevie is the audience's stand-in.

“The character of Stevie has always acted as the eyes of the audience," Daniel said during a 92Y Talks in 2018. "She is the person who is going to say the things that the audience is probably saying to each other while watching it. And I think it’s always important to have that one character on the show that you can trust.”

That was something that resonated with Hampshire. "I think what I connected to in Stevie is that she really stands in for the audience in a way," Hampshire says, "and I felt like I just had to watch these people around me and take them in in an honest way and it would be funny."

In the character breakdown she received when she auditioned, Hampshire says that Stevie was described as "being from a small town, and she's very deadpan." But over the course of four seasons, Stevie has evolved. In season one, Hampshire says, "I don’t think she had any attachment to the motel or to anyone—on purpose. To not be attached or kind of be emotionally invested in anything is a much safer place to be. Over four seasons, she has opened up. I think Stevie grows up a lot this season and really learns to take responsibility for things that I don't think she ever wanted to take responsibility for."

In the fourth season, viewers will see how deep Stevie and David's friendship is, and her partnership with Johnny in running the motel gives her "a new support system that allows her to bloom into whatever kind of special thing she's going to become," Hampshire says.

7. Catherine O'Hara brought something special to the character of Moira Rose.

It was Eugene who suggested O’Hara—his frequent collaborator in Guest’s mockumentaries—for the part of Moira Rose. “I was not going to say, ‘No, that’s not a good idea,’” Daniel told The New York Times. “When he offers up Catherine O’Hara, you take it and run with it.”

And Moira’s eccentricities are all O’Hara’s doing. “We always knew Moira was an actress, an ex-soap star, who became a socialite, chairing major charity events around the world,” Eugene told The Hollywood Reporter. “But Catherine, who always brings something so creative to the table, added a very extreme affectation to her actress character that made Moira so much funnier than we had imagined her.”

O’Hara told Awards Daily that her character’s voice is “kind of a mix of people I’ve met. There’s one woman who’s very feminine and lovely. She just has a unique way of putting sentences together.” Inspiration can come from other sources, too: In the Season 3 episode “New Car,” O’Hara at one point had to use a British accent. “There’s a woman on Sirius radio who claims to be a dog whisperer or pet psychic. Have you heard this woman?” she asked Awards Daily. “That’s basically the accent I’m doing.”

8. Moira's aesthetic is based on Daphne Guinness.

Eugene Levy as Johnny Rose and Catherine O'Hara as Moira Rose in Schitt's Creek.
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“Catherine came in with a reference, when we first started exploring what the aesthetic of this strange woman would be, and she brought in a picture of Daphne Guinness, who is the heir to the Guinness fortune,” Daniel said at 92Y Talks in 2018. “And she was a McQueen muse, and I looked at it, and I said ‘How do we translate this to television?’ And we thought if we kept it in black and whites and went just far enough, I think we can sort of rein it in.”

Moira’s over-the-top looks (which include a number of wigs that, according to Hampshire, have names) are created by Dan and Debra Hanson. “They shop all year because these characters have to have extremely high-end, designer wardrobes, but [the Roses] don’t have that money anymore,” O’Hara told Awards Daily. “I’ve never enjoyed wardrobe fittings in my life until now!”

9. The wardrobe on Schitt's Creek tells a story.

“Dan plays a big hand in the costuming, along with the costume designer Debra Hanson, who is amazing,” Murphy told Build. “Catherine and I do hours and hours of fittings before we start shooting. And I’ll come out of the room and Dan will be like, ‘Mm mm,’ and send me back in.”

After joking that that “makes me sound crazy,” Daniel said that “the mandate, from a creative standpoint … was that the wardrobe on this show is able to tell a story that we don’t have to write … we’re constantly reminded of who these people are and where they came from.”

Because the show is on a tight budget, lots of the wardrobe, he said, comes from eBay and thrift stores. Levy told Vulture in 2019 that all the clothes have to come from around the time when the Roses lost their money—and that the most he'll pay for any item is $200.

10. The location of Schitt's Creek is purposefully ambiguous.

Schitt’s Creek is a Canadian production, and the Rose family had a place in New York, but when people ask him where the town of Schitt’s Creek is located, Eugene says that he tells them it’s wherever they think it should be. “We didn’t set Schitt’s Creek in any location or any country, it’s just Schitt’s Creek,” he said at 92Y Talks in 2016. “We honestly wanted the focus of the show to be on this town, and if you put it in a country with real states or put it in a country with real provinces, then things become tangible … it kind of diffuses the focus to me.”

11. There's not a lot of improv on the Schitt's Creek set.

That fact might surprise fans of Eugene and O'Hara’s work on Guest films like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, where the cast works from an outline of the action with no dialogue rather than a traditional script. “[Schitt’s] is completely a scripted show, but we do an awful lot of playing around with the lines when we get to the set,” Eugene told The Hollywood Reporter. “What looked good on paper doesn’t always play when you hear the words out loud. So, we do change things until they end up sounding right.”

“When we get the script, I kind of work on it on my own and play with it then,” O’Hara told Awards Daily. “The Levy gentlemen give me respect, and I respect them and email them with possibilities. I don’t feel the need to improvise because our scripts are great.”

Which is not to say that everything is shot as written: Levy said at 92Y Talks in 2018 that Murphy’s “you get murdered first!” from the pilot episode was improvised.

12. The baseball team in the town where Schitt's Creek films changed its name to honor the show.

Schitt’s Creek films in Canada, in Goodwood, Ontario. “We did dingy up the town tremendously,” Daniel told NPR. “It is a lovely town that we had turned into the town of ‘Schitt's Creek.’”

All of the show's interiors are shot at a studio, but the buildings are actual structures in Goodwood, dressed to look like Schitt's Creek. According to Hampshire, many of the buildings are on a single intersection. "There’s Bob’s Garage, which is a garage, but we put a sign up, and then the café and the apothecary are stores," Hampshire says. "When we shoot there, we make them into our stores." The motel was, at one point, actually a motel. "It’s been since turned into this basketball boys club sleeping quarters camp thing," she says. "When we go in, it really smells like a locker room."

In the first season, locals set up lawn chairs to watch filming and wandered through shots; by the second season, Eugene told 92Y Talks in 2016, they were “proud citizens of Schitt’s Creek.” The town seems to have embraced its alter ego, as evidenced by the actions of its minor league baseball team. “They had a minor league kind of baseball team there that actually changed their name from the Goodwood Bears to the Schitt's Creek Bears for an entire month,” Eugene told NPR.

13. When it comes to Schitt's Creek, Daniel Levy leaves no detail unconsidered.

And that includes the wear and tear on the carpets in the mote. “In my head it’s like, ‘We should all know that they don’t vacuum their carpets all the time,’” Levy told GQ in 2019. "These are lived-in carpets. We’re in a motel. If we’re going to vacuum the carpets, which I know has to be done, we also need to scuff them up a bit after." He does all the scuffing himself: "It’s in the details for me, and when the details aren’t executed perfectly, I get a bit … ornery," he said. (But Daniel doesn't bring that energy to set: "It’s crazy how comfortable he is doing this, how calm and confident he is running the show," O'Hara told GQ.)

14. Chris Elliot makes Eugene break constantly.

Eugene Levy as Johnny Rose and Chris Elliott as Roland Schitt in Schitt's Creek.
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According to Murphy, Eugene “giggles like a schoolboy” in scenes with Chris Elliot, who plays Schitt’s Creek Mayor Roland Schitt. “He’s got my number,” Levy said in an interview with Build. “He’s constantly making me laugh on set … He does it intentionally, of course, and he actually succeeds.”

One scene in the show’s third season was particularly tough to get through and resulted in hours of outtakes: “[Chris] gets in kind of behind me, trying to show me how to hold a [golf] club properly,” Levy recalled. “That’s one of the times I think I laughed the hardest in the three seasons, was trying to get through that scene.” He couldn’t stop laughing and was eventually admonished by the director. (They did eventually get the shot.)

15. Cafe Tropical's menu is Murphy's favorite prop.

Jennifer Robinson as Jocelyn Schitt and Catherine O'Hara as Moira Rose in Schitt's Creek.
Pop TV

Cafe Tropical’s huge menu is often played for laughs on Schitt’s Creek, and it’s Murphy’s favorite prop on the show. “I wish everyone could see the inside of the menu because it’s very detailed and there’s literally every dish you could possibly imagine,” Murphy said at 92Y Talks in 2018. “There are literally 150 things you could order on this menu, and they’re all described.” The props department couldn’t find a big enough real-life menu, so they ended up creating massive ones in a custom size.

16. Hampshire regularly borrows Stevie's clothes.

With her Chucks, flannels, and overalls, Stevie easily has the most comfortable wardrobe on Schitt's Creek. It's so comfortable, in fact, that Hampshire often borrows items to wear on her time off. "I always take this one pair of Stevie’s jeans that I love—they’re like the perfect baggy boyfriend roll-up jeans," Hampshire says. "I take hoodies. I actually take Stevie’s Converse because they’re better than my exact Converse for some reason. I always take her stuff, which Dan doesn't understand at all. He’s like, 'What is there to take? Like, why would you ever borrow this stuff?' But for some reason, the wardrobe women, they just find the perfect hoodie or the perfect jean—so I take those."

17. Season 6 of Schitt's Creek will be its last.

Daniel announced the news on Twitter in a letter written by himself and Eugene. "We are so grateful to have been given the time and creative freedom to tell this story in its totality, concluding with a final chapter that we had envisioned from the very beginning," they wrote. "It’s not lost on us what a rare privilege it is in this industry to get to decide when your show should take its final bow. We could never have dreamed that our fans would grow to love and care about these characters in the ways that you have.” The final season, which will consist of 14 episodes, will air on the CBC and Pop in 2020.

This piece was updated in 2019.

Batmania: When Batman Ruled the Summer of 1989

JD Hancock, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
JD Hancock, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

“Flop” is how marketing research group Marketing Evaluation Inc. assessed the box office potential of the 1989 Warner Bros. film Batman. The big-budget production, directed by Tim Burton and co-starring Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, was expected to be one of the rare times a major Hollywood studio took a comic book adaptation seriously. But according to the marketing data, the character of Batman was not as popular as the Incredible Hulk, who was then appearing in a slate of made-for-television movies. And he was only a quarter as appealing as the California Raisins, the claymation stars of advertising.

That prediction was made in 1988. The film was released on June 23, 1989, and went on to gross $253.4 million, making it the fifth most successful motion picture up to that point.

While Marketing Evaluation may have miscalculated the movie’s potential, they did hedge their bet. By the time profits from the movie’s merchandising—hats, shirts, posters, toys, bed sheets, etc.—were tallied, the company said, Warner Bros. could be looking at a sizable haul.

When the cash registers stopped ringing, the studio had sold $500 million in tie-in products, which was double the gross of the film itself.

In 1989, people didn’t merely want to see Batman—they wanted to wear the shirts, eat the cereal, and contemplate, if only for a moment, putting down $499.95 for a black denim jacket studded with rhinestones.

Batmania was in full swing. Which made it even more unusual when the studio later claimed the film had failed to turn a profit.

 

The merchandising blitz of Star Wars in 1977 gave studios hope that ambitious science-fiction and adventure movies would forever be intertwined with elaborate licensing strategies. George Lucas's space opera had driven audiences into a frenzy, leading retailers to stock up on everything from R2-D2 coffee mugs to plastic lightsabers. It was expected that other “toyetic” properties would follow suit.

They didn’t. Aside from 1982’s E.T., there was no direct correlation between a film’s success and demand for ancillary product. In 1984 alone, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom were smash hits. None of them motivated people to flock to stores and buy Gizmo plush animals or toy proton packs. (Ghostbusters toys eventually caught on, but only after an animated series helped nudge kids in their direction.)

Warner Bros. saw Batman differently. When the script was being developed, producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber were urging writers to make sure scenes were aligned with planned merchandising. They scribbled notes insisting that no onscreen harm come to the Batmobile: It should remain pristine so that kids would want to grab the toy version. As Batman, millionaire Bruce Wayne had a collection of vehicles and gadgets at his disposal—all props that could be replicated in plastic. Batman's comic book origins gave him a unique iconography that lent itself to flashy graphic apparel.

In March 1989, just three months before the film's release, Warner Bros. announced that it was merging with Time Inc. to create the mega-conglomerate Time-Warner, which would allow the film studio to capitalize on a deep bench of talent to help drive the “event” feel of the film.

Prince was signed to Warner's record label and agreed to compose an album of concept music that was tied to the characters; “Batdance" was among the songs and became a #1 hit. Their licensing arm, Licensing Corporation of America, contracted with 300 licensees to create more than 100 products, some of which were featured in an expansive brochure that resembled a bat-eared Neiman Marcus catalog. The sheer glut of product became a story, as evidenced by this Entertainment Tonight segment on the film's licensing push:

In addition to the rhinestone jacket, fans could opt for the Batman watch ($34.95), a baseball cap ($7.95), bicycle shorts ($26.95), a matching top ($24.95), a model Batwing ($29.95), action figures ($5.95), and a satin jacket modeled by Batman co-creator Bob Kane ($49.95).

The Batman logo became a way of communicating anticipation for the film. The virtually textless teaser poster, which had only the June 23 opening date printed on it, was snapped up and taped to walls. (Roughly 1200 of the posters sized for bus stops and subways were stolen, a crude but effective form of market research.) In barber shops, people began asking to have the logo sheared into the sides of their heads. The Batman symbol was omnipresent. If you had forgotten about the movie for even five minutes, someone would eventually walk by sporting a pair of Batman earrings to remind you.

At Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles, 7000 packs of Batman trading cards flew out the door. Management hired additional staff and a security guard to handle the crowds. The store carried 36 different kinds of Batman T-shirts. Observers compared the hysteria to the hula hoop craze of the 1950s.

One retailer made a more contemporary comparison. “There’s no question Batman is the hottest thing this year,” Marie Strong, manager of It’s a Small World at a mall in La Crosse, Wisconsin, told the La Crosse Tribune. “[It’s] the hottest [thing] since Spuds McKenzie toward the end of last year.”

 

By the time Batman was in theaters and breaking records—it became the first film to make $100 million in just 10 days, alerting studios to the idea of short-term profits—the merchandising had become an avalanche. Stores that didn’t normally carry licensed goods, like Macy’s, set up displays.

Not everyone opted for officially-licensed apparel: U.S. marshals conducted raids across the country, seizing more than 40,000 counterfeit Batman shirts and other bogus items.

Collectively, Warner raked in $500 million from legitimate products. In 1991, the Los Angeles Times reported that the studio claimed only $2.9 million in profit had been realized from merchandising and that the movie itself was in a $35.8 million financial hole owing to excessive promotional and production costs. It was a tale typical of creative studio accounting, long a method for avoiding payouts to net profit participants. (Nicholson, whose contract stipulated a cut of all profits, earned $50 million.)

Whatever financial sleight-of-hand was implemented, Warner clearly counted on Batman to be a money-printing operation. Merchandising plans for the sequel, 1992’s Batman Returns, were even more strategic, including a tie-in agreement with McDonald’s for Happy Meals. In a meta moment, one deleted script passage even had Batman’s enemies attacking a toy store in Gotham full of Batman merchandise. The set was built but the scene never made it onscreen.

The studio was willing to give Burton more control over the film, which was decidedly darker and more sexualized than the original. Batman Returns was hardly a failure, but merchandising was no longer as hot as it was in the summer of 1989. Instead of selling out of shirts, stores ended up marking down excess inventory. McDonald’s, unhappy with the content of the film, enacted a policy of screening movies they planned to partner with before making any agreements. By the time Warner released 1995’s Batman Forever, the franchise was essentially a feature-length toy commercial.

It paid off. Licensing for the film topped $1 billion. Today, given the choice between a film with Oscar-level prestige or one with the potential to have its logo emblazoned on a rhinestone jacket that people would actually want to buy, studios would probably choose the latter. In that sense, the Batmania of 1989 endures.

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