The Force is still strong as ‘Star Wars’ turns 40

New Straits Times - - World -

LOS AN­GE­LES: The date was 1977, and no one had yet worn a cop­per bikini to bed, made “whoosh­ing” lightsaber noises with a broom­stick or yelled “May the Force be with you” at strangers.

But that was all about to change as a 33-year-old Cal­i­for­nian film­maker named Ge­orge Wal­ton Lu­cas Jr pre­pared to re­lease his third fea­ture — a far-fetched, slightly corny in­ter­ga­lac­tic saga of good and evil star­ring a sulky farm boy with daddy is­sues.

Jump for­ward 40 years and has grown into the most lu­cra­tive and in­flu­en­tial movie fran­chise of all time — Princess Leia’s sig­na­ture side hair buns are all the rage on Hal­loween and Jedi is an of­fi­cial re­li­gion in sev­eral coun­tries.

“I’m run­ning out of hy­per­bolic ad­jec­tives to de­scribe the power of but that’s be­cause it is the ul­ti­mate stan­dard-bearer. Four decades of record-break­ing, genre-defining en­ter­tain­ment across film, tele­vi­sion, video games, toys, books and ev­ery­thing else the brand has touched sim­ply speaks for it­self,” said Box­Of­ chief analyst Shawn Rob­bins.

With its in­die flick bud­get of just US$11 mil­lion (RM47.6 mil­lion), the brash-look­ing opened on May 25, 1977 on an in­aus­pi­cious 32 screens, tak­ing in US$1.6 mil­lion on its first week­end.

Star­ring rel­a­tive new­com­ers Mark Hamill, Car­rie Fisher and Har­ri­son Ford as swash­buck­ling Luke Sky­walker, Princess Leia and Han Solo, it ben­e­fited from word-of­mouth buzz and the crowds lin­ing up to see it quickly grew ex­po­nen­tially.

Its first the­atri­cal run ended with a phe­nom­e­nal US$221.3 mil­lion while var­i­ous reis­sues by 20th Cen­tury Fox brought the do­mes­tic to­tal to more than twice that amount. The pre­miere was at the Chi­nese Theatre in Hol­ly­wood, where it played to sold-out au­di­ences five times a day for over a year, ac­cord­ing to res­i­dent his­to­rian Levi Tin­ker, who said the crowds lit­er­ally wore out the hand-wo­ven Chi­nese car­pet in the lobby.

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