Today on May 25th, 1977, a culture phenomenon was born. Memorial Day weekend of 1977 opens with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American theaters. While 20th Century Fox had little faith in a movie called “Star Wars”, the space opera from young filmmaker named George Lucas became a film that spawned a franchise that’s still being celebrated all around the world today! *even in space!*
With its groundbreaking special effects, Star Wars leaped off screens and immersed audiences in “a galaxy far, far away.” By now everyone knows the story, which followed the baby-faced Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) as he enlisted a team of allies–including hunky Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and the robots C3PO and R2D2–on his mission to rescue the kidnapped Princess Leia from an Evil Empire governed by Darth Vader. The film made all three of its lead actors overnight stars, turning Fisher into an object of adoration for millions of young male fans and launching Ford’s now-legendary career as an action-hero heartthrob.
Star Wars was soon a bona-fide pop culture phenomenon. Over the years it has spawned five more feature films, five TV series and an entire industry’s worth of comic books, toys, video games and other products. Two big-screen sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983), featured much of the original cast and enjoyed the same success–both critical and commercial–as the first film. In 1999, Lucas stretched back in time for the fourth installment, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, chronologically a prequel to the original movie. Two other prequels, Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005) followed.
After a successful re-launch with J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015, fans also flocked to the first standalone “anthology” movie, 2016’s “Star Wars: Rogue One.” In December, we’ll see the eighth chapter of the core franchise, “The Last Jedi”!