The May 4 illuminated play combat set for Fremont Park is still on – just don’t call it a “light-sword battle.”
Don’t allude to “The Force.” Rethink your “Jedi” costume and most certainly don’t call the plastic light-up stick a “lightsaber.”
The group behind the planned May 4 battle at Fremont Park in midtown has been forced to rebrand the event as a result of a legal settlement reached with Lucasfilm, the company behind the “Star Wars” franchise.
Kevin Bracken, one of the creators of the Toronto-based New Mind Space, said the company has hosted the battles for eight years, but bringing the event to Los Angeles in December prompted a cease-and-desist letter from Lucasfilm.
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The December events came within days of the Dec. 18 release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The latest installment of the Lucas franchise has made $935 million from U.S. audiences at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo.
“We immediately stopped using the words ‘lightsaber,’ ‘Jedi,’ ‘Sith’ and ‘The Force,’ ” Bracken said of the company’s response to the January communication.
“However, in March we received further communication stating the Light Battle Tour and ‘light sword’ were still too close to their trademarks, and we asked to settle the dispute to avoid legal action,” Bracken said in a news release.
In place of the Light Battle Tour, the company is now marketing a series called Cats In Space Tour with “space battles” in Sacramento and other cities.
“Cats in Space is a fun, playful series of space battles where participants can fight with fantasy weapons, laser guns and more,” a website blurb reads.
Bracken said the new event, produced in partnership with the Midtown Business Association, will be a great time. The event is expected to draw hundreds of people. More than 700 people say they’re coming, according to the event’s Facebook page.
The marketing of the “light-sword battle” was light on “Star Wars” influences when it hit the Sacramento market in April. Photos showed darkened figures wielding plastic light swords. The event was an instant hit on Facebook.
While the Star Wars franchise boast perhaps the largest and most loyal “fandom” of any movie franchise ever, Cats in Space isn’t a new concept. In 2006, Andy Sandberg and Bill Hader of “Saturday Night Live” produced a low-budget, sci-fi creation called “Laser Cats.”
The rebranded “space battle” shows pictures of women and men accessorized with cat ears waving plastic light swords.
While the event is free, participants are encouraged to preorder a “Catblade,” a plastic collapsible stick that lights up, for $10, with $1 going to the nonprofit Make-A-Wish’s local chapter.
“We do feel like Lucasfilm may have overreached a little here, but we are still committed to bringing this fun, free, family-friendly event to Sacramento,” Bracken said.
Wendy Reynolds, a South Land Park resident, said she ordered four light swords before the switch to a large degree because she as a 12-year-old daughter who loves “Star Wars.”
“It sounded like some good, clean entertainment,” she said.
She said she’s less sold on the new theme and is somewhat worried about inebriated “bros,” but will still check it out.
“It still looks like it could be a fun evening,” Reynolds said, “if a drunken bro-fest doesn’t break out.”
Midtown resident Mira Cukrov said she’s down for any sort of light tomfoolery at night.
She said Lucasfilm’s objection was “kind of silly” and would have had more merit had the event used the word “lightsaber.”
“On the flip side, I think the new name is pretty cool. I’d like to see how that turns out,” said Cukrov, who happens to own a toy light sword and a cat suit. (Don’t ask why.)
Emily Baime Michaels, executive director of the Midtown Business Association, said she sought to bring the “light sword” to midtown after stumbling upon it at a public square in Los Angeles in December.
“It was a square that would have been dark,” Baime Michaels said. “Instead it was filled with people.”
She said the sight of hundreds of people illuminated by the playful jousting with light sticks was a joy.
“I said, ‘We need that,’ ” she said. “Now we have it.”
Space Battle Sacramento
Date: 8 to 10:30 p.m. May 4
Location: Fremont Park, 1515 Q St.
Cost: Free (with your own toy), $10 (basic package)
More info: catsinspacetour.com/collections/sacramento