Star Wars opened for the first time in 1977.
It seems incredible to think that George Lucas’ franchise opened on Memorial Day weekend in the USA some 38 years ago. We all know it spawned follow up movies, bringing in some of the greatest acting talent on the planet to help steer the journey, but it also seems incredible to think that nearly 40 years ago it grossed $800 million across the world.
Star Wars was exceptional, not least because it made stacks of money but because it also went on to win 7 Oscars. This was also an example of an incredible marketing campaign, where pre launch activity was described, by Carrie Fisher who played Princess Leia, as being like an earthquake. It worked to generate a huge group of heavily over obsessed male followers which were badged the ‘new order of geeks.’ These geeks proved another powerful element of the marketing campaign, as news spread of them sleeping on the streets awaiting the opening, it led to coverage everywhere.
The special effects were superb, taking the audience on a convincing journey to a galaxy in the distant universe. Mark Hamill played Luke Skywalker and Harrison Ford played Han Solo which helped to thrust him into the mainstream as an action hero actor who could melt hearts.
Little did they know at the premier in 1977 that it would go on to spawn 5 more feature films and a merchandising operation that can compete with the biggest of brands in the world. There were initially two sequel films, 1.The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, 2.The Return of the Jedi in 1983. After this George Lucas placed his focus on going back in time from the original and produced Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in 1999, Attack of the Clones in 2002 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005.
Big name actors
The roll call of great talent went on to include Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee and Samuel L Jackson.
Thanks for the good time, George!