It was on this day 39 years ago, the force swept a nation. On May 25, 1977, the first of George Lucas’ Star Wars blockbusters took the United States by storm. The film earned $461 million in U.S. ticket sales with a gross approximating $800 million worldwide. Star Wars also went on to receive seven Oscars. The success of the film began months before its release date, with strategic and smart marketing that was pushed by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox. “It wasn’t like a movie opening. It was like an earthquake.” Carrie Fisher, who plays the rebel leader Princess Leia, reported to Time magazine. This marked the beginning of, as Fisher put it- “a new order of geeks, enthusiastic young people with sleeping bags.” With this new revolution in movie-watching, the culture of film entertainment in the United States had been completely altered.
The special effects of Star Wars were unparalleled at the time of its release. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the film: the story follows doe-eyed Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who rallies a team of allies- the suave Hans Solo (Harrison Ford) and droids R2D2 and C3PO- on his quest to rescue rebel leader Princess Leia from the grasps of the Evil Empire, commanded by Darth Vader. With the release of Star Wars, the films main characters became overnight success’. Ford’s career busted into heartthrob action-hero, and is an extensive career. Fisher became adored by millions of young male fans of the film, holding her honor as Princess Leia dear to their hearts.
Soon after, Star Wars became a cult classic, a complete phenomenon to the pop culture world. Since 1977, it has successfully executed five TV series, five more feature films, and countless toys, comic books, video games, and other products. The succeeding sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983), enjoyed the same realm of success. For the next trilogy of films, the first being in 1999, Lucas decided to go back in time. The fourth Star Wars film, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, was the chronological prequel to the original movie. The following prequels, Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005.)
The more recent Star Wars films featured a different cast including: Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman, and Hayden Christensen. They have been unable to match the success of their predecessors, but have still enjoyed success. In 2005, Revenge of the Sith became the top-grossing film in the United States and second in the world for that year.