After 25 years, are you surprised that Spaceballs still has so many fans? I’ll tell you, I’ve made a dozen films — some of them really big hits — and all of them have been left in the dust by Spaceballs. It never stops selling. When I think about getting a bottle of wine in a restaurant, I say, ”My God, they want $90 for this wine!” Then something in me says, ”The hell with it — Spaceballs will cover it.” [Laughs] I don’t think there was more than one or two critics who liked it, but by far the most letters I get are from people who love Spaceballs.
Why do you think that is? I’ve tried to figure it out: It’s not a better movie than Young Frankenstein and it isn’t as dangerous as Blazing Saddles. But I think the secret is, it gets sweet and emotional. It’s kind of a beautiful fairy tale.
What was George Lucas’ reaction to seeing you satirize the Star Wars universe? I was afraid to get sued by Lucas. I sent him the script and he said, ”It’s fine.” He had one caveat: ”You can’t do merchandising. You can’t actually have, you know, a Dark Helmet action figure, because they’ll look too much like ours.” His company ILM did all the space effects and postproduction for us. And he was so complimentary about the picture. He said, ”Take out the comedy and it really works as an adventure.”
Did you ever consider making a sequel — or turning Spaceballs into a musical, á la The Producers or Young Frankenstein? Fox tried to bribe me to do Spaceballs 2, but I always said no. I don’t want in any way to compete with the movie or hurt it. And as a musical, I don’t think I could do better [than the movie].