Rotten Tomatoes Editor-in-Chief Talks Star Wars for Star Wars Day

Rotten Tomatoes editor-in-chief, Matt Atchity, talks about his passion for Star Wars and the future of the franchise.

Any self-respecting fan knows Star Wars Day is May the 4th. The unofficial holiday emerged from the play on words “May The Force Be With You.” From cruises and retail merchandise, to food (blue milk anyone?) and theme park activities, there’s no shortage of ways fans can celebrate all things Star Wars.

 

Rotten Tomatoes editor-in-chief, Matt Atchity, is a die-hard fan. He was at the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida, in April, and sat in the 40th anniversary panel. “If you told my younger kid self that I’d be there professionally I wouldn’t have believed it,” Atchity said over a candid phone conversation. His excitement is relatable. “Everyone was there!” Mark Hamill, George Lucas, and Harrison Ford were on the panel moderated by Wicket the Ewok actor Warwick Davis. “The big surprise was John Williams conducting the Orlando symphony after the Carrie Fisher memorial,” he added.

Matt Atchity's personal Star Wars collection. Photo courtesy of M. Atchity

Matt Atchity’s personal Star Wars collection. Photo courtesy of M. Atchity

But Atchity is not your typical Star Wars fan boy. Engage him in a conversation about the intergalactic movies and he’ll lay on you his cosmic wealth of information. Some of it so compelling; you’d be hard-pressed to separate the fiction from the reality.  Atchity has been trying to recapture that childlike wonder he felt when he first saw the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope, as a six year old. “I’ve been chasing the dragon so to speak, since my mother took me to see the movie,” said Atchity. “Every time I go see a movie these days, I’m hoping to get that same feeling.”

 
Watching the movie six or seven times as kid, ignited a fire that has been burning in him since then. And Atchity has been kindling the Star Wars flames by learning as much as he can about it. “In high school, I studied the works of Joseph Campbell because of the George Lucas connection,” Atchity said. He read Hero of a Thousand Faces and understands how Lucas used archetypical characters to reach a vast audience. According to Atchity, “Star Wars has this almost religious pull to it.”

 
At the 40th Anniversary panel, Lucas mentioned his intention to set up a sort of mythology in the 1970s when he conceptualized Star Wars. “In THX 1138 you can see Lucas was an experimental filmmaker,” referring to the 1971 movie,” said Atchity. With Star Wars, “he tried to establish a biological and cultural mythology we can’t help but respond to. And he succeeded farther than anyone could have possibly predicted,” Atchity added.

 

 

The Force has been with Matt Atchity, and he has been one with The Force since his first encounter with the trilogy. He’s made sure to continue Star Wars’ mythological status by introducing the film to the next generation. “Always start with the original trilogy,” he advises. Atchity tried to introduce his then-5-year-old to the franchise starting with the Phantom Menace. “30 minutes into it, he didn’t care. He just didn’t care at all,” said Atchity sounding almost dejected. “Phantom Menace was tough because there are large sections in there where they’re talking about politics, and a 5 year old just doesn’t care,” Atchity recalls. After a few days he, his wife, and son watched A New Hope, and order was restored. His teenager is still a fan today.

 

The Star Wars saga came full circle for Atchity in 2015. “I got to take my mother to The Force Awakens premier, and that was really cool,” he said.
Has there been another franchise or movie that has recreated the same emotion as Star Wars did? For Atchity, few movies convey the joy of filmmaking quite like Star Wars; Batman Begins, The Fifth Element, and Raiders of the Lost Ark come close for the film aficionado.

Star Wars Boba Fett action figure holding the engagement ring. Photo courtesy of M. Atchity.

Star Wars Boba Fett action figure holding the engagement ring. Photo courtesy of M. Atchity.

To describe Atchity as a fan of the Star Wars franchise is an understatement. After all, he proposed to his wife by putting the engagement ring in a boxed Boba Fett action figure. Holding the prized item in her hands, engagement ring dangling in plain sight, Atchity got down on one knee and proposed. “God love my wife. Her answer was, ‘if I say no, do I get to keep the figure?’” But the best part came after she said yes. “If I open it up will it lose its value?” A true fan right there and a match made, well, in a galaxy far, far, away.

Mr. and Mrs. Atchity's Star Wars themed wedding cake. Photo courtesy of M. Atchity.

Mr. and Mrs. Atchity’s Star Wars themed wedding cake. Photo courtesy of M. Atchity.

An exciting take away from my conversation with Atchity, was this revelation based on his extensive knowledge about the franchise. “Lucas has created a rich playground for people to continue to build on,” he said. “I like that the writers have given themselves the freedom to tell new stories,” he added. With Kathleen Kennedy running the show at Lucasfilm, Atchity believes that if “you just let them do what they need to do…we could have a new Star Wars movie every year for the foreseeable future.”

Atchity will be observing May The 4th by watching as much Star Wars material as he possibly can. “And maybe I’ll wear some Star Wars swag,’ he said referring to his well-known Star Wars Hawaiian shirts.

If you were stuck on Tatooine and couldn’t go to the Star Wars Celebration last month, then “May the 4th” is a chance for Star Wars obsessionistas to dress up like their alter egos, reload on merch, and rejoice with fellow fans in the hope the revived franchise has brought to millions across the galaxy.

Comments

  1. Linda Luke says:

    This is a day of great memories for me. I kept my son out of school and took him to the first Star Wars movie on opening day. I still remember how powerful the rumble of the ships sounded because there was nothing else like that back then. Since those days we have never missed an opening day, only now his wife and kids come along too.

  2. I love their cake. FUN! And the engagement case. Love it!

  3. Maureen says:

    That’s so cute that he prosposed that way and then they had a Star Wars themed wedding cake. She must be quite a fan too.

  4. Super adorable way to propose. Very cute!

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