Happy 44th Birthday, Star Wars!
On May 25, 1977, Star Wars opened and our world was changed forever.
It’s unbelievable to comprehend, but Star Wars (renamed Star Wars: A New Hope for it’s theatrical re-release in 1981) only opened in 42 theaters that fateful day.
Destined for failure?
George Lucas has said he didn’t think the film would be successful, and neither did his friends or family. Well, one friend thought it would be a hit – Steven Spielberg.
Fans went crazy for Star Wars, and its release quickly expanded to 1,750 theaters nationwide. The film played constantly for more than a year.
An instant hit
From The Take: “The next week, while vacationing in Hawaii (in an attempt to hide from the film he expected to fail), Lucas turned on the TV to see Walter Cronkite talking about the Star Wars phenomenon that had theaters nationwide sold out for weeks ahead. It was clear that people loved Lucas and his crazy new brand of fantasy, despite all expectations. It was goofy, cheesy, perhaps even shallow at times—but it was a film unlike anything anyone had seen before.”
Initial reviews were positive for this low-budget ($11 million!) science fiction film from a young director.
The Hollywood Reporter: Star Wars would “undoubtedly emerge as one of the true classics in the genre of science fiction/fantasy films” and that “it will be thrilling audiences of all ages for a long time to come.”
The Washington Post: “George Lucas has made the kind of sci-fi adventure movie you dream about finding, for your own pleasure as well as your kids’ pleasure.”
The Wall Street Journal: “a gigantic, lavish, brilliantly executed old-time movie comic strip.”
The New York Times: “the most elaborate, most expensive, most beautiful movie serial ever made.”
George Lucas was offered a $500,000 fee to direct Star Wars, but he turned it down. He kept the original $150,000 fee and traded for rights to merchandising and sequels.
Kids went crazy for the Star Wars toys! Star Wars figures of the main characters, vehicles and ships were so popular the toys were sold out well before Christmas in 1977.
Happy 44th birthday, Star Wars!
May the force be with you, always.
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