On May 25th 1977, 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm Ltd. release the first installment in the space opera film series, Star Wars. 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first Star Wars and the whole franchise itself. It’s amazing to see how much of a cultural phenomenon that Star Wars has become over the past 40 years, it is apart of pop culture and is beloved be millions of people.

Star Wars first released on May 25th 1977, in just 32 theatres and it immediately broke box office records and was one of the first blockbuster films.  At the time, George Lucas couldn’t predict how successful Star Wars would be. Because of this, when Lucas visited Steven Spielberg on the set of his film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Lucas thought that Close Encounters would be the bigger hit and outperform Star Wars at the box office. Spielberg disagreed and Star Wars would be the bigger hit, Lucas proposed that they each get 2.5% of the profit on each other’s films, Spielberg accepted and to this day, still receives 2.5% of the profits of Star Wars.

Star Wars was a critical and commercial success, even though at the time, 20th Century Fox gave very little support for marketing the film beyond licensing t-shirts and posters, partly because they had little doubt that the film would be successful. Fox believed that The Other Side of Midnight would be a big summer hit for the studio.

When Star Wars first released, there were lines that were miles long with people waiting to see the film. It wasn’t just Lucas that would be famous and an instant household name, the model makers got asked for autographs and the cast rose to stardom.

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre back in 1977, when Star Wars first premiered. Credit: Lucasfilm/StarWars.com

Star Wars helped reinvigorate Fox, including doubling the studio’s stock price in just three weeks of the films release. Lucas has said that the entire original Star Wars trilogy was intended to be one film but his story material was just too long for a single film.

Star Wars spawned a series a film, including three trilogies (including the original 1977 film and a sequel trilogy that is currently in progress), anthology films and extended media franchise called the Star Wars expanded universe which spans books, TV series, videogames and comic books. All of main Star Wars films have been box office successes and has generated about $6.5 billion, which is the third highest-grossing film series, after the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. 

Credit: Lucasfilm/StarWars.com

Even the total value of Star Wars merchandise is valued at around $42 billion as of 2015. At this point, Star Wars isn’t going to slow down at time soon. So here’s to the 40th anniversary of Star Wars. Hopefully it will still be loved for years to come.

There’s also tons of more stuff on StarWars.com to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars.

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