When did the first Star Wars movie come out?
May the 4th be with you! I'm sure you've heard or read it already today, but it's just so much fun! In case you're not among the majority who know where "May the Force be with you" quote is from, it's Star Wars. Star Wars is a space opera film series "in a galaxy far, far away", created by George Lucas. The film series is one of the most successful and influential franchises in motion picture history. George Lucas enjoyed success as a writer and director with the film American Graffiti (1973) which gained him the backing of 20th Century Fox… to the tune of $9.5 million… for the production of the first Star Wars film. The film, directed by Lucas, was in production for four years, with scenes shot in Tunisia and Death Valley, California, and on soundstages in England. It was released on May 25, 1977, as Star Wars but later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope and was met with great success. What begun in the 1970s and ’80s was revived at the turn of the 21st century, with the first of the prequel trilogy, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999). The Star Wars films continually advanced the field of motion picture special effects and developed into an enormously lucrative merchandising industry. The Star Wars franchise was part of the Lucasfilm deal in October 2012. Disney bought Lucasfilm for a reported $4.05 billion. While $4.05 Billon with a B may seem like a lot, You might be surprised to hear Disney more than recouped their investment in 6 years, and the was before the most recent Trilogy hit box offices. While Lucas wasn't happy with the new movies, I'm sure he's just fine rolling on his pile of money.
In its more than 50-year history, Lucasfilm produced other iconic films like Indiana Jones, Labyrinth and Willow. Although a fifth film in that franchises has been teased by the company, it is unclear when that will come to fruition. Current expectations have a film hitting theaters in 2021 and will include Harrison Ford.
Lucas was also part of the animated series, Land Before Time. You'd think someone with as much talent and success in their field would have started young on their path to greatness... however, George Lucas originally dreamed of being a race car driver, which came to a halt after a car crash, according to a 1979 profile of Lucas in The Atlantic. He was inspired by a cinematographer he had built a racing car for and decided to enroll in film school.
Lucas was also given the option from Fox (the original Star Wars distributor) to give up an additional $500,000 in directing fees in exchange for ownership of licensing and merchandising rights, as they thought his work would tank... he took the deal and invested in himself. The year following the release toy sales alone earned over $100 million.
Bottom line, we can learn from George Lucas that it's never too late to do something new... you may be better than you ever expect... and invest in yourself! Thanks, George! Now, getting back to Star Wars in case you are lost as to what came when...the movies are as follows:
Original Trilogy Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) Prequel Trilogy Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002) Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005) Sequel Trilogy (post-Lucas) Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Anthology films (post-Lucas) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)