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HISTORY

       In the print viewed for this record, the director is credited as Lewis Coates, a pseudonym for Italian filmmaker, Luigi Cozzi.
       In a 30 Nov 1977 Var interview, Cozzi described Starcrash as “science fantasy,” as opposed to science fiction. The director acknowledged that one might assume from the title that Starcrash was an attempt to capitalize on outer space in the wake of Star Wars (1977, see entry), one of the high grossing films in motion picture history. However, he explained that the design of the picture and the script, originally titled Empire of the Stars, were developed prior to the release of Star Wars. Producer-screenwriter Nat Wachsberger and his son, producer Patrick Wachsberger, who had recently formed a Hollywood-based production company, Film Enterprises Productions (FEP), signed on to the project in May 1977 during the Cannes Film Festival, after viewing a sample reel that Cozzi had created to interest investors.
       According to a 28 Nov 1977 Box brief, principal photography began 15 Oct 1977 in Rome, Italy, at Cinecittà Studios. A 20 Sep 1977 HR item noted that shooting also took place in Morocco, Tunisia, and Hollywood, CA. As reported in a 9 Nov 1977 Var brief, filming was scheduled to be completed mid-Dec 1977. In the 30 Nov 1977 Var article, Cozzi noted that the miniatures were completed by Italian artists, while American expertise was recruited for many of the special effects, including snorkel photography, computer photography, and mechanical effects.
       A 28 Oct 1977 HR article ... More Less

       In the print viewed for this record, the director is credited as Lewis Coates, a pseudonym for Italian filmmaker, Luigi Cozzi.
       In a 30 Nov 1977 Var interview, Cozzi described Starcrash as “science fantasy,” as opposed to science fiction. The director acknowledged that one might assume from the title that Starcrash was an attempt to capitalize on outer space in the wake of Star Wars (1977, see entry), one of the high grossing films in motion picture history. However, he explained that the design of the picture and the script, originally titled Empire of the Stars, were developed prior to the release of Star Wars. Producer-screenwriter Nat Wachsberger and his son, producer Patrick Wachsberger, who had recently formed a Hollywood-based production company, Film Enterprises Productions (FEP), signed on to the project in May 1977 during the Cannes Film Festival, after viewing a sample reel that Cozzi had created to interest investors.
       According to a 28 Nov 1977 Box brief, principal photography began 15 Oct 1977 in Rome, Italy, at Cinecittà Studios. A 20 Sep 1977 HR item noted that shooting also took place in Morocco, Tunisia, and Hollywood, CA. As reported in a 9 Nov 1977 Var brief, filming was scheduled to be completed mid-Dec 1977. In the 30 Nov 1977 Var article, Cozzi noted that the miniatures were completed by Italian artists, while American expertise was recruited for many of the special effects, including snorkel photography, computer photography, and mechanical effects.
       A 28 Oct 1977 HR article mentioned that Gene Corso, a sound editor on Star Wars, was also hired for sound work on Starcrash, but his contribution is uncredited onscreen and could not be confirmed.
       As announced in the 20 Sep 1977 HR item, American International Pictures (AIP) acquired domestic distribution rights to the film, whose production budget was approximately $4.5 million.
       According to an undated HR article, AIP later filed a lawsuit, seeking nearly $2.5 million in damages, against FEP, claiming that the picture was not ready by the contracted date of 1 Jul 1978. Information regarding the outcome of the litigation has not been determined.
       Producer Roger Corman’s company, New World Pictures, subsequently obtained distribution rights and released the film in Los Angeles, CA, area on 7 Mar 1979. During the first week, the film earned $475,000, which set a box-office record for the company in terms of first week grosses in the Los Angeles market, as stated in a 16 Mar 1979 HR article. New World planned a gradual rollout in select cities before a wider release in summer 1979.
       According to a 9 Jan 1980 Var box-office report, Starcrash earned $2.25 million in domestic film rentals during 1979.
       A 28 Mar 1979 Var brief reported that the picture received an award at France’s Festival du Cinema Fantastique for the score by composer, arranger, and conductor John Barry.
      End credits include the following statement: “Filmed at Cinecitta S.p.a., Rome, Italy.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Nov 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 1977
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Mar 1979
Section E, p. 20.
Variety
9 Nov 1977.
---
Variety
30 Nov 1977
pp. 33-34.
Variety
28 Mar 1979.
---
Variety
28 Mar 1979
p. 36.
Variety
9 Jan 1980
p. 21, 70.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Roger Corman presents
A New World Pictures release
A Nat and Patrick Wachsberger Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
Mus comp, arr and cond by
Supv mus ed
SOUND
Dial supv
Addl dial by
Dial ed
Dolby consultant
Re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Elec visual eff supv
Spec eff dir
Spec eff dir
Titles by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Star Crash
The Adventures of Stella Star
Empire of the Stars
Release Date:
7 March 1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 7 March 1979
Production Date:
15 October -- mid December 1977 in Rome, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, and Hollywood, CA
Copyright Claimant:
New World Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 September 1979
Copyright Number:
PA48859
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Dolby Stereo®
Color
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a future outer space, the Emperor of the First Circle of the Universe is at war with the villainous Count Zartharn. While on an important mission to locate Zartharn’s secret weapon, an imperial spaceship belonging to the emperor’s fleet is attacked by a mysterious field of red light. Before the ship explodes, however, three of its launches, or satellite vessels, manage to disengage and speed away. Elsewhere in the galaxy, infamous space smuggler and pilot, Stella Star, and her superhuman navigator, Akton, are released from prison to assist the emperor’s cause. The imperial ruler explains that the count has developed a vast weapon of limitless power, hidden within an unknown planet. Since Stella and Akton are considered the most skillful pilot and navigator team in the universe, the emperor wants them to identify the secret planet, destroy the weapon, and search for any survivors from the failed mission. He adds that the royal heir, his only son, was the commander of the mission and may be on board one of the launches that escaped. Accompanied by Thor, the Imperial Chief of Police, and a police robot named Elle, Stella and Akton embark on the quest and travel to a distant area of the universe known as the Haunted Stars. There, on the planet Uragus, Elle and Stella disembark from their spacecraft and find a wrecked launch on a beach, but no survivors. Soon after arriving, Elle and Stella are abducted by the planet’s female warrior tribe, who are allies of the count and accuse the duo of spying. The robot policeman and the smuggler, who were once enemies ... +


In a future outer space, the Emperor of the First Circle of the Universe is at war with the villainous Count Zartharn. While on an important mission to locate Zartharn’s secret weapon, an imperial spaceship belonging to the emperor’s fleet is attacked by a mysterious field of red light. Before the ship explodes, however, three of its launches, or satellite vessels, manage to disengage and speed away. Elsewhere in the galaxy, infamous space smuggler and pilot, Stella Star, and her superhuman navigator, Akton, are released from prison to assist the emperor’s cause. The imperial ruler explains that the count has developed a vast weapon of limitless power, hidden within an unknown planet. Since Stella and Akton are considered the most skillful pilot and navigator team in the universe, the emperor wants them to identify the secret planet, destroy the weapon, and search for any survivors from the failed mission. He adds that the royal heir, his only son, was the commander of the mission and may be on board one of the launches that escaped. Accompanied by Thor, the Imperial Chief of Police, and a police robot named Elle, Stella and Akton embark on the quest and travel to a distant area of the universe known as the Haunted Stars. There, on the planet Uragus, Elle and Stella disembark from their spacecraft and find a wrecked launch on a beach, but no survivors. Soon after arriving, Elle and Stella are abducted by the planet’s female warrior tribe, who are allies of the count and accuse the duo of spying. The robot policeman and the smuggler, who were once enemies chasing each other through the galaxy, now work together to escape from the Amazons and rendezvous with Thor and Akton. Next, Akton pinpoints the ruins of the main imperial spaceship on a barren planet of ice and snow, but, once again, Elle and Stella find no sign of survivors. While anchored there, Thor is revealed to be an undercover agent for the count and attempts to take over the spacecraft from Akton, while leaving Elle and Stella outside to freeze. The resourceful Akton, however, uses his powers to see into the future and thwarts Thor’s traitorous plot. Resuming the mission, Stella, Akton, and Elle locate another launch crash on the desert-like planet, Demondia. Approaching the planet’s atmosphere, they are besieged by the same powerful mind-altering field of red light that disrupted the imperial spaceship. Yet, Akton anticipates the danger and guides the ship to safety. Afterward, he informs Stella that they have survived an attack by the “red monsters,” which is the count’s powerful, secret weapon. The monsters are not real, but projections of creatures that cause humans and robots to go insane with fear. While inspecting the launch wreckage on Demondia’s surface, Elle and Stella are assaulted by savage cavemen. The robot is broken into pieces, while Stella is captured and taken to the tribe hideout. Nearby, a stranger views the incident and follows. After rescuing Stella, the stranger introduces himself as Simon, the only survivor of the launch crash. Attempting to leave the cave, Stella and Simon find themselves in another struggle with the savages, until Akton arrives and uses his laser sword to save them. Akton then reports that Demondia, which has proved to be the most heavily guarded planet, harbors the machinery behind the red monsters. When the trio infiltrates the weapon’s underground operation center, Akton explains that the count’s computers are programmed to spread the red monsters throughout the universe. Before Akton can deactivate the system, they are confronted by the count and his troops. Zartharn compliments the group on evading his previous traps, then announces that their arrival has prompted him to develop a new strategy to defeat the emperor. Using the group as bait, the count has lured the emperor to Demondia, which will be destroyed in less than an hour. While the emperor and his comrades perish, Zartharn plans to conquer the universe. Stella is shocked as the count reveals that Simon is the royal heir, which explains why the emperor would hasten to Demondia. Zartharn departs the planet with his troops, leaving his golem robots to guard the threesome. Wielding his laser sword, Akton destroys the golems, but is mortally wounded in the fight. Seconds before the planet is set to implode, the emperor arrives and summons a special device to suspend time until he, Simon, and Stella can escape the planet on his imperial flagship. In a strategy designed to surprise the count, who believes he has already won, the emperor orders imperial fighter ships to strike the villain’s headquarters, and a space battle ensues. The emperor appears to have the advantage until Zartharn successfully counters the attack and prevents the imperial troops from invading his command center. Next, Zartharn plans to use his “doom machine” to target the emperor’s flagship. Left with only one method of defense, known as “starcrash,” the emperor instructs Simon and Stella to maneuver the imperial space station, called the Floating City, and slam it into the Count’s headquarters. In order to turn the immense station into a weapon, residents are evacuated and explosives rigged on board. Meanwhile, Stella wants to pilot the Floating City herself, and suggests that Simon stand by in his fighter craft to rescue her. Simon, however, refuses to let her go alone, and announces that her loyal robot friend, Elle, has been rebuilt. In the control room of the Floating City, Stella and Elle set the collision course, then eject through a hatch into space, where they are picked up by Simon. The count’s troops are unable to react in time, and the giant space station annihilates Zartharn and his empire. As Stella and Simon embrace, the emperor states that they have won the war. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.