Star Wars Turns Forty

On this day in 1977, Star Wars was released in theaters, and an 8-year old kid from Philly’s life was changed forever.

On this day in 1977, Memorial Day weekend opens with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American theaters.

The incredible success of Star Wars–it received seven Oscars, and earned $461 million in U.S. ticket sales and a gross of close to $800 million worldwide–began with an extensive, coordinated marketing push by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox, months before the movie’s release date.

“It wasn’t like a movie opening,” actress Carrie Fisher, who played rebel leader Princess Leia, later told Time magazine. “It was like an earthquake.” Beginning with – in Fisher’s words – “a new order of geeks, enthusiastic young people with sleeping bags,” the anticipation of a revolutionary movie-watching experience spread like wildfire, causing long lines in front of movie theaters across the country and around the world.

My mother was arguably a bigger fan of Star Wars than I was, and she took us to the theaters three times to see the film. Then came the action figures, the t-shirts, the posters, the video games, etc., etc. My kids are also big Star Wars geeks – I raised them right – and hopefully they’ll pass on their Star Wars knowledge to their children.

In the meantime, I am still pining for the day when I can own the Millennium Falcon.


8 thoughts on “Star Wars Turns Forty

  1. The movie the studio didn’t want to make. The movie that the theaters wouldn’t take unless the studio also let them play a “more anticipated” movie at the same time. The movie that Lucas said he didn’t need to be paid for, he’d just take the merchandising profits (and the studio, thinking it would be a dud, agreed!).

    Oh yeah, and H. Ford told Lucas “you can write this shit, but you can’t say it”


  2. Metoo – The opening sequence of the star destroyer chasing the blockade runner is one of the best in movie history.

    Cathy – And not Gil Gerard Buck Rogers.

    Mike – George Lucas is a very odd man.

    MelP – Then it went on to win a ton of Oscars. Shows what Hollywood executives know.


  3. We were stationed in Guam when it came out. By the time it made it to the theaters there, it was such a big deal they took all of us 5th & 6th graders on a field trip to see it.
    T-shirts, action figures, toys. They all followed.


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