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