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Site of the Week – TheForce.Net

Casual Star Wars fans (is there such a thing?) may know that a new film, the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, is coming out this summer — ahead of the debut of a related television series. But are they aware of the upcoming “The Force Unleashed” video game? Or how about the live-action TV series, due in 2010, that will be set between Episodes III and IV (and feature bounty hunter Boba Fett in some way)? Well, regular readers of TheForce.Net, which bills itself as “your daily dose of Star Wars,” would know about all this and much, much more.

The site, launched in 1996, “seems to be a one-stop shop for everything and anything Star Wars. Big or small, we try to cover it all,” says Mike Barrick, the “news guy,” who joined back in April 2007. The goal is to “spread the love of Star Wars… We try to do everything with an air of fun to it as well,” says Barrick. “Let’s face it — we’re not splitting the atom. We’re just having fun in the universe George Lucas created.” Scott Chitwood and Darin Smith founded TheForce.Net after seeing a presentation about the re-mastered special editions of Episodes IV, V and VI, and realizing “nobody knew the details of the special editions and there was a lot of misinformation out there,” according to Chitwood, who’s in charge of the site’s book coverage.

TheForce.Net, which gets 1.5 million to 2 million page
views a month, is run by two technical people, two active contributors
and about a half-dozen others. Several of the biographies on the site
include how old the staff members were in 1977, which is of course the
year that Star Wars was released. Barrick himself was born two years after that, but thinks he did see Return of the Jedi (1983) on the big screen — possibly his first movie-going experience. His favorite Star Wars film? “I flip flop between the original Star Wars — I love the discovery story — and The Empire Strikes Back,
which takes the films to a whole new level with a fantastic story and
great character chemistry,” he explains. “On the other hand, my
favorite scenes in all the films are those of Lando piloting the
Millennium Falcon in Return of the Jedi.”

The news items and message boards are the site’s most popular
features, but the weekly podcast — Force-Cast — has “really taken
things to a whole new level in terms of getting the news out there and
creating yet another means for the fans to connect, whether they be
calling into the show or participating in live chat sessions as the
show is recorded,” Barrick notes. And that’s appropriate, since the
site is run by fans for the fans, Barrick says, adding, “TheForce.Net has created a virtual community for fans around the world to connect [and] share ideas.”

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