The Harkins Loyalty Cup we could have had, but (apparently) did not deserve.
The Harkins Loyalty Cup we could have had, but (apparently) did not deserve.
Courtesy of Anonymous Source

WTF Happened to Harkins' Star Wars Loyalty Cup?

Harkins Theatres apparently has pulled the 2018 Loyalty Cup featuring artwork inspired by the upcoming movie Solo: A Star Wars Story.

The reusable plastic soda cups, which get theater patrons discounted sodas, made waves earlier this month for featuring an image that appeared to be a first look at actor Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo. But they are no longer available.

Phoenix New Times attempted to get to the bottom of the “Han-troversy." However, no one from the Arizona-based theater chain is talking.

By November 21, Harkins Theatres' website had removed the much-discussed cup from its “Loyalty/Popcorn Perks” page. It had been replaced by a new design commemorating the company’s 85th anniversary.

The popular item wasn't on display during a visit to the Harkins Camelview at Fashion Square Theatre in Scottsdale that same day. A concession worker said the replacement cups would not be available until later in the week.

When asked if the sudden lack of inventory had anything to do with the Han Solo artwork, the manager on duty said he could neither confirm nor deny it.

Each year, the Arizona-based movie theater chain offers a newly designed 32-ounce plastic cup for $6. Each time you bring the cup back throughout that year, you pay just $1.50 for a fountain beverage refill.

The Loyalty Cup typically features clever illustrations of popular cinematic characters, both from past and upcoming movie releases.

For example, the 2017 Loyalty Cup uses a yearbook motif that depicts favorites like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Wolverine from the R-rated comic book film Logan, and the guitar-playing Miguel from the newest Disney-Pixar film Coco.

But the original 2018 cup was received with more fanfare than usual.

On November 11, Star Wars fan and Twitter user Mike DeRose (@livetheforce) tweeted a photo of the Loyalty Cup artwork showing Ehrenreich as the younger version of the intergalactic smuggler in the upcoming stand-alone Disney/Lucasfilm release.

His caption read, “First image of Alden as Han?”

That 2018 design featured the work of Phoenix-area illustrator Landon Armstrong. It incorporated characters from soon-to-be blockbusters Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Pitch Perfect 3.

And DeRose’s tweet went into hyperspace.

Where's Han?EXPAND
Where's Han?
Jason Keil

Many websites specializing in film coverage published articles about the cup that cited his tweet. Making Star Wars reported that the image was "100 percent legit." ComicBook.com wrote that the image "just might make even the die-hard Star Wars fans swoon for its accurate depiction." YouTube videos were made dissecting Armstrong’s design.

Disney and Lucasfilm are notorious for keeping images and spoilers about their movies off the web until the company sees fit. Additionally, Solo’s director Ron Howard has been supplying fans with pictures from the set on his Instagram feed.

Why would a large studio give a piece of its product to Harkins? Well, we're guessing that didn't happen.

Many pointed out that Ehrenreich’s face on the cup matched the image of the first cast photo taken on February 20, 2017, while the body appeared to be based on an image of the character from the video game Star Wars: Battlefront or a screenshot of Harrison Ford, who played Han in the original trilogy.

The same blogs that fueled the fire that Harkins had somehow beaten other publications to the punch were soon retracting and updating stories to note that the image on the cup was not an official one from Solo: A Star Wats Story, which is scheduled for release on May 25, 2018.

Judging from a post on his Instagram feed, Armstrong was excited to be behind this year's Harkins' Loyalty Cup.

When asked about having his artwork retracted, he said by email on November 21 that this was the first he had heard about the controversy. He was hired by the local independent advertising agency Moses Incorporated and had no contact with anyone from Harkins during the project.

Moses Incorporated has not responded to requests for comment.

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