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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Dark Crystal: 30th Anniversary

On Monday December 17, 2012 it will mark the 30th Anniversary of when The Dark Crystal first opened in theatres back in 1982.

Directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, it had mixed reviews when it was first released, but now, it has become a cult favourite for many.  It has remained consistently strong with worldwide home video and DVD/Blu-ray sales.

It had a much darker tone than what people were use to at the time with Jim Henson and The Muppets. This may have hurt its initial run. People were thinking they were getting funny, colourful Muppets when they were getting quite the opposite. A Frightening Scenes disclaimer was even attached to its PG Rating. As a child when I first saw this, they were not lying. It freaked many a child out in the theatre, and even some adults too! Loved it!

Till this day I still consider it as one of my favourite movies of all time, if not my favourite.

With a production budget of around $15,000,000, it opened in 858 theatres (widest release was 1,052 theatres by week 3). It debuted in 3rd place its opening weekend earning $4,657,335. It dropped to #5 in its second weekend making $3,370,458 but from strong word of mouth at the time - it added more theatres and in its third weekend of release it jumped to #2 and made $5,405,071, a 61% increase. It was in theatres for 9 weeks which was really good in those days. It left theatres after the February 11th - 13th weekend back in 1983. Its final Domestic Gross was $40,577,001.

It was a big critical success, winning a Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film and winning the grand prize at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival. The film was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and a BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects.

The Dark Crystal was the highest-grossing box office release for 1983 in France and Japan and it won the 1983 Seiun Award media prize.

Thinking back, Jim Henson and Co. were so ahead of their time. This was the first film (not including animated) that did not have a single human being on screen. There was no CGI. Everything had to be created (Jim Henson's Creature Shop was formed at this time), made and brought to life 'live' on set by Jim Henson and all his amazing crew of puppeteers, mimes, dancers, acrobats and all the technical and visual teams. It was really a truly amazing accomplishment. Let's not forget that wonderful score by Trevor Jones. Amazing.

A sequel, Power of The Dark Crystal, has been in development for years with Lisa Henson and The Jim Henson Company. Last we heard, back in September 2011, this had been put on 'hold'.  It was suppose to be a combination of CGI, puppets and made in 3D. Will we ever see this? Who knows. I do know that there are just as many that do as there are that don't want to see a sequel to The Dark Crystal. Time will tell.

In 1986, Jim released another fantasy film, Labyrinth. This time human actors were added amongst the creatures created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, songs, and more humour was injected into the script . Things many said were missing from The Dark Crystal. Although Labyrinth was also an amazing film for its time, it never reached the financial reward earring $13,000,000 in domestic returns. However, like The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth has a HUGE following of fans, and deservedly so I must add. 

Today, The Dark Crystal continues to find new fans every day. Tokyopop released 2 graphic novels back in 2007 and 2010.

Volume 1 of a three-part graphic novel prequel series delving into the origins of the Skeksis, Mystics, Gelflings, the world of Thra, and The Dark Crystal itself debuted in 2011. Spanning a time period from thousands of years ago to right up to the start of the original film, this graphic novel series will tell the definitive origin of The Dark Crystal, under the supervision of The Jim Henson Company and The Dark Crystal concept designer Brian Froud. Volume 2 is scheduled to hit comic/bookstores in July 2013.

If you have not seen The Dark Crystal yet, I would really recommend you check it out. From others, I would love to hear your thoughts on the film.

Please participate in our DAILY POLL question:

Out of the two Jim Henson fantasy movies of the 1980's, which is your favourite?

Happy 30th Anniversary to The Dark Crystal, in 30 years time, there will still not be a film like it.

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