Today In History: Star Wars Opens
Star Wars hit screens for the first time today in 1977. The movie was an instant cultural phenomenon, grossed about $800 million at the global box office and won seven Academy Awards.
“It wasn’t like a movie opening,” Carrie Fisher told Time. “It was like an earthquake.”
Fans waiting outside of theaters in sleeping bags and costumes isn’t a new thing – the same happened for the original Star Wars. The film’s release was presaged by an enormous marketing push.
The movie turned its cast into overnight celebrities. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford were all unknowns. Their fame would go on to outpace that of Alec Guinness, who was the only already-known actor on the cast.
While it was a big hit at the time of its debut, it’s an even bigger hit now. Star Wars is ubiquitous, beyond popular. It’s arguably the single most dominant franchise in all of film.
A New Hope was followed by The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, the much maligned new trilogy and, more recently, the soft reboots.
The original trilogy is still considered the best, and of them, Empire the most superb.