The Web boosted Labyrinth to true cult status during the early part of its second decade, but it wasn’t until the new millennium that the establishment registered just how much we loved the movie. And I was there [still…].
2000: As the millennium turns, people over 20 experience a mass realization: 1980 is now two decades in the past! According to the timetable of American consumerism, it is now time to recycle the ’80s for
nostalgic merchandising purposes. With its big hair, synthesizers and hand-made special effects, Labyrinth epitomizes the new “good old days.” Tributes pop up. People start naming their kids Jareth [!!].
2001: Jennifer Connelly wins an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress as wife of Nobel nutso John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. Her luminous portrayal of a woman with her lower jaw permanently unhinged stuns judges. Magazine articles appear, charting Jennifer’s rise to greatness. Labyrinth is frequently mentioned as her big screen break. And the lead actress’ eventual Oscar reflects glory retroactively back on Labyrinth.
2002: Sharon Lamb publishes her scholarly book The Secret Lives of Girls: What Good Girls Really Do — Sex Play, Aggression, and Their Guilt. One of her chapters features me [pseudonym: Grace] talking about how Jareth represented sexual power for me. Yes, this IS relevant. It’s the first printed record of a fan’s deep devotion to Labyrinth and its characters: the first published acknowledgement outside of the subculture that it’s a cult film.
2003: The Henson Company sees that Labyrinth is getting its second wind on the video market and decides to do something in the same vein. Development of Mirror Mask starts. Collaborators Neil Gaiman and Dave Mckean watch an hours-long early edit of Labyrinth in between scripting sessions for Mirror Mask.
2004: Tri-Star repackages ’80s fantasy flicks in bloated, useless “collector’s edition” rip-off DVDs, including Labyrinth. Yes, folks, those companies are a bit slow on the up-take, but they’re finally realizing how much people love the movie.
Also in 2004 [or some time thereabouts], Hot Topic, purveyors of Punk Lite [TM], begins selling T-shirts, notebooks and cards with Labyrinth images on them. The worm and the fairy are sighted in malls across the USA [none of them near me, dammit!].
Furthermore, in the first indication of the Laby product glut to come, Plan-B Toys announces resin figures of Labyrinthian puppet characters to be released in 2005. [Hmmmm, I never saw any of those, come to think of it…] Since Jareth and Sarah are not included in the product line-up, fans weep, still clinging fondly to their dreams of a small, poseable Goblin King.
2004-2005: Mirror Mask articles hit the Web and various specialty publications. The buzz touts Mirror Mask’s illustrious pedigree. Labyrinth always crops up as a primary Mirror Mask influence, praised lavishly by Neil Gaiman et al. Press starts to refer to Labyrinth as “a classic.” Must be those celebrity endorsements….
2005: The calm before the storm. Tokyopop announces manga of Labyrinth and a sequel for the next year. Palisades Toys announces action figures and previews their 12″ Jareth doll. Fans finger their wallets restlessly.
2006: Labyrinth turns 20! Jareth’s Realm turns 10! In honor of Labyrinth’s 20th anniversary [and the Realm’s 10th :p ], Laby stuff hits the shelves two decades after the fact. Other exciting events happen too, but I have no idea what they are because they haven’t happened yet. You’ll just have to watch this space [or one next to it].