Howard G. Kazanjian (born 1942) is an American film producer and a published non-fiction author. Of Armenian descent, Kazanjian is an active member of the Armenian charity and cultural community, and a USC alumnus.
Kazanjian graduated from the University of Southern California. While there he first met a young George Lucas, becoming not only Delta Kappa Alpha cinema fraternity brothers, but also long standing friends. During those college years, Kazanjian and Lucas both met their respective future wives and the couples would often double date.
Kazanjian's early credits include being an assistant director on Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot.
Kazanjian moved into film production rather than directorial work at Hitchcock's suggestion and is most notable for having served as executive producer on Raiders of the Lost Ark and producer on Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, two of the biggest films of all time.
Kazanjian is recognized as an uncredited producer on Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, replacing producer Gary Kurtz midway through the production.
A "Revenge of the Jedi" Lobby Poster
During production of Return Of The Jedi, Kazanjian is credited with the idea to utilize the guise of filming a fictitious movie to disguise the actual production, and throw off any press and nosy fans. The fictitious film was titled Blue Harvest, which was purported to be a horror film with the tag line "horror beyond imagination". Hats and t-shirts were printed up for the crew to wear and to further add to the authenticity of the ruse.
At the same time, Kazanjian also created the fictitious "Revenge of the Jedi" campaign, specifically to thwart black market merchandisers who would often pre-empt official merchandising with knock-off items. Many of the items bearing the name "Revenge of the Jedi" (as opposed to "Return of the Jedi") have become rare and valuable collectors items.
In 2004 Kazanjian authored The Cowboy and the Senorita : A Biography of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans ISBN 0-7627-3053-6 and Happy Trails : A Pictorial Celebration of the Lives of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans ISBN 0-7627-3089-7
Since 1998 Kazanjian has been Co-Chairman and 50% shareholder of Tricor Entertainment, Inc, an independent production company, which owns and operates a 19,000+ seat theater chain in Southeast Asia and a film distribution company.
Kazanjian lives and works in the small community of San Marino, California with his wife Carol, and three children, Peter, Noah, and Andrew. Fellow filmmaker BWL Norton, with whom he worked on More American Graffiti, jokingly described Kazanjian as being "like, from Mars" in a 1980 interview.