If you happen to be a Star Wars fan then you need to be celebrating today. It was on this day back in 1977 that 20th Century Fox released George Lucas’ space odyssey. Star Wars got ready for release after four years in production which included location shots in Death Valley, California and Tunisia. The movie starred almost unknown actors including Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker who teams with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to rescue Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from captivity on a space station commanded by Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones). Lucas’ company, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) got us the elaborate space battles, special effects, massive space station and of course, those alien creatures.
Produced by Fox at $9.5 million, Star Wars targetted sci-fi fans but backed it up with massive publicity campaigns. Little wonder then that the movie had churned $3 million by the end of the first week and by the end of the summer, it had raked in $100 million. Not only was the movie successful commercially, it was received well by the critics too. In fact, it was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture. It won in six categories, mostly technical and received an additional Oscar for Special Achievement in Sound Editing.
Lucas followed up with two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) fuelling a marketing juggernaut including clothing, toys, videos and other merchandise. The popularity of the Star Wars franchise lasted well into the 1990s and was encouraged by a theatrical re-release of the trilogy in 1997.
Starting in the late 1990s, Lucas released a new series of Star Wars movies, set in a time period before the original trilogy and featuring a new and younger cast (Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen) and an updated arsenal of special-effects technology. Though the three newer films–Stars Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) were all huge box office hits, they somehow could not match the critical acclaim gathered by the original series.
Little-known facts about Star Wars
- You will find the phrase, I have a bad feeling about this or I have a very bad feeling about this in every Star Wars movie.
- George Lucas, according to the book The Making of Star Wars by JW Rinzler, planned that Yoda will be played by a monkey wearing a mask and carrying a cane.
- While Jim Henson oversaw the creation of Yoda though it was built by a member of Lucasfilm, famous muppeteer Frank Oz lent Yoda his voice.
- Yoda has four toes in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith but in The Phantom Menace, Yoda has three toes.
- Tibetan and Nepalese were combined to create the Ewok language.