December 2, 2022

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Gabbing Geek Box Office Report: This Is Stupid. Let’s Talk About Kenny Baker.

I've never been shy about how little I think of the Box Office Report, so let's talk about something else instead.

I never got the point of the Box Office Report.  Ryan and Watson seem to think it’s important or interesting, and you Gabbing Geek readers don’t see those guys discussing this stuff behind the scenes.  Like, how many movies this year will crack the $300 million mark in domestic sales or some such.  Ryan explained why it was important once, and though I still can’t, after covering this weekly column for weeks, bring myself to be even remotely interested in how much money different movies make, I also can’t argue with his reasoning.

Why have I been doing this?  I was led to believe someone had to, and quite frankly, it was a bit of a challenge finding a new way to give out dull information.  I do enjoy a good challenge.

But then this past weekend, actor Kenny Baker passed away.  So, I’m going to talk about that man for a bit and then hand out some numbers on the Box  Office.  Sound good?  If not, too bad.  Here I go anyway.

RIP, Mr. Baker.

Kenny Baker was 81 years old when he passed away over the weekend.  Born a little person, he wasn’t really expected to live past his teenage years and hadn’t been doing too well lately due to lung problems.

Baker’s best known role was one that kept his face hidden, and fans never heard his voice as his most famous character.  He was R2-D2.  George Lucas said Baker was R2’s soul, and it’s easy to see why.  Trained as a vaudevillian, Baker knew how to give a robot with no discernible face outside of a single,  large eye emotions by simply knowing the best times to rock back and forth, back up, or whatever.  R2 could shake in anger or fear, look sad, or even join in a celebration, and it wouldn’t be hard for the fan viewing all this to believe the little guy might actually be feeling these feelings despite the aforementioned lack of a face.  Could someone else do the same?  I don’t know, but Kenny Baker did.

And by all accounts, Baker was a good guy to have on the set.  I read a bit from one of Alec Guiness’s letters from the set complaining about, oh, everything and everyone involved in the making of Star Wars (he couldn’t remember Harrison Ford’s name for one thing), but he actually spoke well of Baker being the only decent guy there.  True, he didn’t use Baker’s name, but given the general antipathy Guiness felt for all things Star Wars that weren’t related to the paycheck, that might be high praise indeed.

I’ve also since learned Baker didn’t get along well with Anthony Daniels, AKA C-3PO.  Baker chalked it up to being stuck in hot costumes making the two of them both rather irritable, but Daniels didn’t think much of Baker’s contribution to the role, so to speak, whereas other things I have read suggest Daniels may be something of a jerk and other cast members didn’t think too highly of him either.

Baker did other roles, of course.  Perhaps his second most famous role was as one of the Time Bandits.

Why bring this up?  I pondered once before about mortality and what it means for our heroes in the entertainment industry.  At the time, I rattled of a number of older actors and maybe a week later, Harrison Ford got into a serious plane crash.  Ford survived, obviously, but it does remind us we have only so long on this planet, so we’d best make the most of it.  Quite frankly, I didn’t even know Baker was that sick.  He wasn’t the Star Wars cast member I was thinking would be the next to go, so to speak, considering the last few photos I’ve seen of Peter Mayhew suggest he has trouble standing up these days.  Will we be mourning Chewbacca soon as well?

Anyway, as promised after this rather short, somber essay, here’s the Box Office Report.  Maybe this will put it all into perspective for folks.  Probably not.

  1. Suicide Squad  $43.7 million.
  2. Sausage Party $33.6 million.
  3. Pete’s Dragon $21.5 million.
  4. Jason Bourne $13.6 million.
  5. Bad Moms $11.45 million.


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