For seven films spanning almost 40 years, the Star Wars opening crawl has been an iconic part of the experience of watching those films. For the eighth Star Wars installment, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the creators decided to forgo the opening crawl, a decision that has Dan Perri fairly upset. Perri, the designer who spent months on the opening crawl for the original Star Wars, sat down with Heat Vision to share his thoughts on the absence of the crawl in the latest installment.
“Frankly, it is a huge mistake, because the image is so iconic and it’s so important to tens of millions, hundreds of millions of fans,” Perri explained.” I couldn’t imagine it starting without that. It’s foolish.”
In fact, the very crawl that Perri spent months on actually informs the story of Rogue One, which is set immediately prior to the original Star Wars. The new installment’s creators decided against the opening crawl because Rogue One is a separate Star Wars story, and was ancillary to the main story being told, as opposed to being a full-fledged Episode.
Perri, who has not seen Rogue One or any other Star Wars film since the original, explained that no one had any idea that the film would be a tremendous success when it was initially released. “I had no idea what he [George Lucas] was doing, so it was just this stupid space film. I didn’t think anything of it,” said Perri. “Everything I showed him, he didn’t like. So I was constantly going out there with new ideas, and he would tell me to look at certain films. The Buck Rogers films and all the serials from the ‘30s that he was using for inspiration.”
Eventually, Perri came upon the right look after seeing the 1939 film Union Pacific. “He liked the idea, but then I had to start shooting and testing and setting type. I went through 20 or 30 or 40 different type styles before I settled on one. Once we did that, I shot tests for weeks and weeks and weeks,” Perri said. “It was all on film. You shoot a test on black-and-white film and then it had to be developed the next day or late that day. I’d rush out to Van Nuys with it and wait for him for hours to show it to him and he never liked it, and it just went on and on and on.”
Lucas eventually accepted Perri’s design with only a month to go until the film’s release. “When I think back on it, it wasn’t fun,” Perri explained. “It was a difficult project, but I’m happy with the results.”
Perri is a legendary title designer, and is behind other title designs like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Airplane! He’s currently planning a coffee table book about 27 of his most iconic designs, which will include storyboards, commentary on the design process and stories about the filmmakers. Perri is planning a Kickstarter for the project beginning next year.