Star Wars (film)
Theatrical release poster by Tom Jung
|Directed by||George Lucas|
|Produced by||Gary Kurtz|
|Written by||George Lucas|
|Music by||John Williams|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$775.4 million|
Star Wars (also known as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) is a 1977 American epic space-opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Peter Mayhew. It is the first installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, and was retroactively made the fourth episode in the nine-part 'Skywalker saga' (albeit being the first released).
Lucas had the idea for a science-fiction film in the vein of Flash Gordon around the time he completed his first film, THX 1138 (1971), and began working on a treatment after the release of American Graffiti (1973). Star Wars focuses on the journey of Luke Skywalker (Hamill), who along with Han Solo (Ford) and the wizened Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Guinness), attempt to free Princess Leia (Fisher) from the clutches of the Galactic Empire and the Sith Lord Darth Vader (Prowse, voiced by Jones). The heroes, in league with the Rebel Alliance, attempt to destroy the Empire's planet-destroying space station, the Death Star.
Star Wars was released in a limited number of theaters in the United States on May 25, 1977, and quickly became a blockbuster hit, leading to it being expanded to a much wider release. The film opened to a positive response from critics, most notably for its groundbreaking visual effects. It earned a total of $775 million, surpassing Jaws (1975) to become the highest-grossing film at the time until the release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). When adjusted for inflation, Star Wars is the second-highest-grossing film in North America, and the fourth-highest-grossing film in the world. It received ten Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), winning seven. In 1989, it became one of the first films to be selected as part of the U.S. Library of Congress's National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." At the time, it was the most recent film in the registry and the only one chosen from the 1970s. In 2004, its soundtrack was added to the U.S. National Recording Registry. Today, it is regarded as one of the most important films in the history of motion pictures.
The film has been reissued multiple times at Lucas's behest—most significantly with its 20th-anniversary theatrical "Special Edition"—incorporating many changes including modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, re-edited shots, remixed soundtracks and added scenes. It launched an industry of tie-in products, including novels, comics, video games, amusement park attractions, and merchandise including toys, games, clothing and many other spin-off works. The film's success led to two critically and commercially successful sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), and later to a prequel trilogy, a sequel trilogy, two anthology films and various spin-off TV series.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Soundtrack
- 5 Cinematic and literary allusions
- 6 Marketing
- 7 Release
- 8 Reception
- 9 Legacy
- 10 Merchandising
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
The galaxy is in the midst of a civil war. Rebel spies have stolen plans to the Galactic Empire's Death Star, a colossal, moon-sized, space station capable of destroying entire planets. Imperial Senator Princess Leia, secretly one of the Rebellion's leaders, has obtained the plans, but her starship is captured by an Imperial Star Destroyer under the command of the ruthless Darth Vader. Before she is captured, Leia hides the plans in the memory of astromech droid R2-D2, who, along with protocol droid C-3PO, flees in an escape pod to the desert planet below, Tatooine.
The droids are captured by Jawa traders, who sell them to moisture farmers Owen and Beru Lars and their nephew Luke Skywalker. While cleaning R2-D2, Luke accidentally triggers part of a holographic recording of Leia, in which she requests help from Obi-Wan Kenobi. The next morning, Luke finds R2-D2 missing, and while searching for him, encounters "Old Ben" Kenobi, an elderly hermit being a friend of Luke's who reveals himself as Obi-Wan. He tells Luke of his days as one of the Jedi Knights, former peacekeepers of the Galactic Republic who derived their power from an energy field called the Force until being all but wiped out by the Empire. Contrary to what his uncle has told him, Luke learns that his father fought alongside Obi-Wan as a Jedi Knight until Vader, a former pupil of Obi-Wan's, turned to the dark side of the Force and murdered him. Obi-Wan presents Luke with his father's old weapon: a Jedi lightsaber.
R2-D2 plays Leia's message for Obi-Wan, in which she begs him to take the Death Star plans to her home planet of Alderaan and give them to her father for analysis. Obi-Wan invites Luke to accompany him to Alderaan and learn the ways of the Force. Luke declines, but changes his mind after discovering that Imperial stormtroopers have killed his aunt and uncle and destroyed their farm. Obi-Wan and Luke visit a cantina in Mos Eisley, where, after a brief confrontation, they meet smuggler Han Solo, who owes money to local mobster Jabba the Hutt, and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca. After negotiating a price, Obi-Wan, Luke, R2-D2 and C-3PO join forces aboard Han's ship, the Millennium Falcon.
Death Star commander Grand Moff Tarkin orders the destruction of Alderaan via the Death Star's turbolaser as a show of force. The Falcon crew discovers the planet's remains and is captured by the Death Star's tractor beam, which Obi-Wan goes to disable. Luke discovers that Leia is imprisoned on the Death Star, and rescues her with the help of Han and Chewbacca in a swashbuckling series of escapes. After Obi-Wan sacrifices himself in a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader to enable the heroes to escape, the Falcon escapes amid a fierce dogfight with Imperial TIE starfighters. Using a tracking beacon placed aboard the Falcon, the Imperials follow the rebels to the hidden base on Yavin 4.
The Death Star plans reveal that it can be destroyed by triggering a chain reaction from an external exhaust port. Luke joins the Rebel fighter squadron in a siege against the approaching Death Star, while Han collects his payment, intending to leave and repay Jabba. In the ensuing battle, the Rebels suffer heavy losses after several unsuccessful runs. Vader leads a squadron of TIE fighters and prepares to attack Luke's X-wing, but Han returns and fires at the Imperial fighters, sending Vader spiraling away. Guided by Obi-Wan's spirit, Luke turns off his targeting computer and uses the Force to destroy the Death Star just before it can fire on the Rebel base, killing numerous Imperials, including Tarkin. On Yavin 4, Leia awards Luke and Han medals for their heroism.
- Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker: A young man raised by his aunt and uncle on Tatooine, who dreams of something more than his current life and learns the way of a Jedi. Lucas favored casting young actors who lacked long experience. To play Luke (then known as Luke Starkiller), Lucas sought actors who could project intelligence and integrity. While reading for the character, Hamill found the dialogue to be extremely odd because of its universe-embedded concepts. He chose to simply read it sincerely, and he was selected instead of William Katt, who was subsequently cast in the Brian De Palma-directed Carrie (Lucas shared a joint casting session with De Palma, a longtime friend).
- Harrison Ford as Han Solo: A cynical smuggler hired by Obi-Wan and Luke to take them to Alderaan in his ship, the Millennium Falcon, co-piloted with Chewbacca. Lucas initially rejected casting Ford for the role, as he "wanted new faces"; Ford had previously worked with the director on American Graffiti. Instead, Lucas asked the actor to assist in the auditions by reading lines with the other actors and explaining the concepts and history behind the scenes that they were reading. Lucas was eventually won over by Ford's portrayal and cast him instead of Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte, Sylvester Stallone, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Burt Reynolds, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Billy Dee Williams (who later played Lando Calrissian in the sequels), or Perry King (who later played Han Solo in the radio plays).
- Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia: A member of the Imperial Senate and a leader of the Rebel Alliance. Many young actresses in Hollywood auditioned for the role of Princess Leia, including Amy Irving, Terri Nunn (also a singer), Cindy Williams, Karen Allen, and Jodie Foster. Foster, for one, turned down the role because she was already under contract with Disney and working on two films at the time. Carrie Fisher was cast under the condition that she lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) for the role.
- Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin: Commander of the Death Star. Lucas originally had Cushing in mind for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but Lucas believed that "his lean features" would be better employed in the role of Grand Moff Tarkin instead. Lucas commended Cushing's performance, saying "[He] is a very good actor. Adored and idolized by young people and by people who go to see a certain kind of movie. I feel he will be fondly remembered for the next 350 years at least." Cushing, commenting on his role, joked: "I've often wondered what a 'Grand Moff' was. It sounds like something that flew out of a cupboard."
- Alec Guinness as Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi: An aging Jedi Master and former mentor of Darth Vader who introduces Luke to the Force. Lucas's decision to cast "unknowns" was not taken favorably by his friend Francis Ford Coppola and the studio. Lucas needed an established actor to play the important Obi-Wan Kenobi character. Producer Gary Kurtz said, "The Alec Guinness role required a certain stability and gravitas as a character... which meant we needed a very, very strong character actor to play that part." Before Guinness was cast, Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune (who starred in Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress) was considered for the role. According to Mifune's daughter, Mika Kitagawa, her father turned down Lucas's offers for Kenobi and Darth Vader because "he was concerned about how the film would look and that it would cheapen the image of samurai... At the time, sci-fi movies still looked quite cheap as the effects were not advanced and he had a lot of samurai pride." Guinness was one of the few cast members who believed that the film would be successful; he negotiated a deal for 2.25% of the one-fifth gross royalties paid to George Lucas, which made him quite wealthy in later life. He agreed to take the part of Kenobi on the condition that he would not have to do any publicity to promote the film. Lucas credited him with inspiring the cast and crew to work harder, saying that Guinness contributed significantly to the completion of the filming. Harrison Ford said, "It was, for me, fascinating to watch Alec Guinness. He was always prepared, always professional, always very kind to the other actors. He had a very clear head about how to serve the story."
- Anthony Daniels as C-3PO: A protocol droid who is fluent in over six million forms of communication. Daniels auditioned for and was cast as C-3PO; he has said that he wanted the role after he saw a Ralph McQuarrie drawing of the character and was struck by the vulnerability in the robot's face. Initially, Lucas did not intend to use Daniels's voice for C-3PO. Thirty well-established voice actors read for the voice of the droid. According to Daniels, one of the major voice actors, believed by some sources to be Stan Freberg, recommended Daniels's voice for the role.
- Kenny Baker as R2-D2: An astromech droid who is carrying the Death Star plans and a secret message for Obi-Wan from Princess Leia. While Lucas was filming in London, where additional casting took place, Baker, performing a musical comedy act with his acting partner Jack Purvis, learned that the film crew was looking for a small person to fit inside a robot suit and maneuver it; Baker, who was 3 feet 8 inches (1.12 m) tall, was cast immediately after meeting George Lucas. He said, "He saw me come in and said 'He'll do' because I was the smallest guy they'd seen up until then." He initially turned down the role three times, hesitant to appear in a film where his face would not be shown and hoping to continue the success of his comedy act, which had recently started to be televised. R2-D2's recognizable beeps and squeaks were made by sound designer Ben Burtt and Lucas imitating "baby noises", recording these voices as they were heard on an intercom, and creating the final mix using a synthesizer.
- Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca: A 200-year-old Wookiee, Han Solo's sidekick, and first mate of the Millennium Falcon. Mayhew learned of a casting call for Star Wars, which was filming in London, and decided to audition. The 7-foot-3-inch (2.21 m) tall actor was immediately cast as Chewbacca after he stood up to greet Lucas. He said, "I sat down on one of the sofas, waiting for George. Door opened, and George walked in with Gary behind him. So, naturally, what did I do? I'm raised in England. Soon as someone comes in through the door, I stand up. George goes 'Hmm [looked up].' Virtually turned to Gary, and said 'I think we've found him.'" He was eligible for either of the two roles: Chewbacca or Darth Vader. He chose the former because he wanted to play a hero; British actor David Prowse took the other. Mayhew modeled his performance of Chewbacca after the mannerisms of animals he saw at public zoos.
- David Prowse as Darth Vader: A Sith lord, of the Galactic Empire, who hopes to destroy the Rebel Alliance
- James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader. Lucas originally intended for Orson Welles to voice Vader (after dismissing using Prowse's own voice due to his English West Country accent, leading to the rest of the cast nicknaming him "Darth Farmer"). After deciding that Welles's voice would be too recognizable, he cast the lesser-known James Earl Jones.
Other actors include Phil Brown and Shelagh Fraser, as Owen and Beru, Luke's uncle and aunt respectively. Jack Purvis, Kenny Baker's partner in his London comedy act, as the Chief Jawa in the film, Eddie Byrne as Vanden Willard, a Rebel general. Denis Lawson and Garrick Hagon played rebel pilots Wedge Antilles and Biggs Darklighter (Luke's childhood friend), respectively. Don Henderson and Leslie Schofield appear as Imperial Generals Cassio Tagge and Moradmin Bast, respectively, and Richard LeParmentier plays Admiral Motti. Alex McCrindle portrays General Jan Dodonna, Alfie Curtis portrays Dr. Evazan and Peter Geddis portrays Captain Raymus Antilles. Michael Leader plays a minor role as a Stormtrooper known for accidentally hitting his helmet against a door.
Lucas said he had the idea for a space-fantasy film in 1971, after he completed directing his first full-length feature, THX 1138; however, he has also said he had the idea long before then. Lucas believed that the bleak tone of THX 1138 led to its poor reception, and therefore chose to make Star Wars more optimistic. This is what led to the fun and adventurous tone of the space opera. Originally, Lucas wanted to adapt the Flash Gordon space adventure comics and serials into his own films, having been fascinated by them since he was young. In 1979, he said, "I especially loved the Flash Gordon serials .... Of course I realize now how crude and badly done they were ... loving them that much when they were so awful, I began to wonder what would happen if they were done really well."
At the Cannes Film Festival following the completion of THX 1138, Lucas was granted a two-film development deal with United Artists; the two films were American Graffiti, and an untitled space opera inspired by Flash Gordon. He pushed towards buying the Flash Gordon rights, later recounting:
I wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, with all the trimmings, but I couldn't obtain the rights to the characters. So I began researching and went right back and found where Alex Raymond (who had done the original Flash Gordon comic strips in newspapers) had got his idea from. I discovered that he'd got his inspiration from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs (author of Tarzan) and especially from his John Carter of Mars series books. I read through that series, then found that what had sparked Burroughs off was a science-fantasy called Gulliver on Mars, written by Edwin Arnold and published in 1905. That was the first story in this genre that I have been able to trace. Jules Verne had got pretty close, I suppose, but he never had a hero battling against space creatures or having adventures on another planet. A whole new genre developed from that idea.
Director Francis Ford Coppola, who accompanied Lucas in trying to buy the Flash Gordon rights, recounted in 1999: "[George] was very depressed because he had just come back and they wouldn't sell him Flash Gordon. And he says, 'Well, I'll just invent my own.'" Lucas went to United Artists and showed them the script for American Graffiti, but they passed on the film, which was then picked up by Universal Pictures. United Artists also passed on Lucas' space opera concept, which he shelved for the time being. After spending the next two years completing American Graffiti, Lucas turned his attention to his space opera. He drew inspiration from politics of the era, later saying, “It was really about the Vietnam War, and that was the period where Nixon was trying to run for a [second] term, which got me to thinking historically about how do democracies get turned into dictatorships?”
Lucas began writing in January 1973, "eight hours a day, five days a week", by taking small notes, inventing odd names and assigning them possible characterizations. Lucas would discard many of these by the time the final script was written, but he included several names and places in the final script or its sequels. He used these initial names and ideas to compile a two-page synopsis titled Journal of the Whills, which told the tale of the training of apprentice CJ Thorpe as a "Jedi-Bendu" space commando by the legendary Mace Windy. Frustrated that his story was too difficult to understand, Lucas then began writing a 13-page treatment called The Star Wars on April 17, 1973, which had thematic parallels with Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film The Hidden Fortress.
After United Artists declined to budget the film, Lucas and producer Gary Kurtz presented the film treatment to Universal Pictures, the studio that financed American Graffiti; however, it rejected its options for the film because the concept was "a little strange", and it said that Lucas should follow American Graffiti with more consequential themes. Disney also turned down the film.
Lucas said, "I've always been an outsider to Hollywood types. They think I do weirdo films." According to Kurtz, Lew Wasserman, the studio's head, "just didn't think much of science fiction at that time, didn't think it had much of a future then, with that particular audience." He said that "science fiction wasn't popular in the mid-'70s ... what seems to be the case generally is that the studio executives are looking for what was popular last year, rather than trying to look forward to what might be popular next year." Lucas explained in 1977 that the film is not "about the future" and that it "is a fantasy much closer to the Brothers Grimm than it is to 2001." He added: "My main reason for making it was to give young people an honest, wholesome fantasy life, the kind my generation had. We had Westerns, pirate movies, all kinds of great things. Now they have The Six Million Dollar Man and Kojak. Where are the romance, the adventure, and the fun that used to be in practically every movie made?" Kurtz said, "Although Star Wars wasn't like [then-current science fiction] at all, it was just sort of lumped into that same kind of category."
There were also concerns regarding the project's potentially high budget. Lucas and Kurtz, in pitching the film, said that it would be "low-budget, Roger Corman style, and the budget was never going to be more than—well, originally we had proposed about 8 million, it ended up being about 10. Both of those figures are very low budget by Hollywood standards at the time." After Walt Disney Productions rejected the project, Lucas and Kurtz persisted in securing a studio to support the film because "other people had read it and said, 'Yeah, it could be a good idea ....'" Lucas pursued Alan Ladd Jr., the head of 20th Century Fox, and in June 1973 completed a deal to write and direct the film. Although Ladd did not grasp the technical side of the project, he believed that Lucas was talented. Lucas later stated that Ladd "invested in me, he did not invest in the movie." The deal gave Lucas $150,000 to write and direct the film. American Graffiti's positive reception afforded Lucas the leverage necessary to renegotiate his deal with Ladd and request the sequel rights to the film in August 1973. For Lucas, this deal protected Star Wars's unwritten segments and most of the merchandising profits.:19
—George Lucas, 1977
Since commencing his writing process in January 1973, Lucas had done "various rewrites in the evenings after the day's work." He would write four different screenplays for Star Wars, "searching for just the right ingredients, characters and storyline. It's always been what you might call a good idea in search of a story." By May 1974, he had expanded the film treatment into a rough draft screenplay,:14 adding elements such as the Sith, the Death Star, and a general by the name of Annikin [sic] Starkiller. He changed Starkiller to an adolescent boy, and he shifted the general into a supporting role as a member of a family of dwarfs. Lucas envisioned the Corellian smuggler, Han Solo, as a large, green-skinned monster with gills. He based Chewbacca on his Alaskan Malamute dog, Indiana (whom he would later use as namesake for his character Indiana Jones), who often acted as the director's "co-pilot" by sitting in the passenger seat of his car.
Lucas began researching the science-fiction genre by watching films and reading books and comics. The script would introduce the concept of a Jedi Master and his son, who trains to be a Jedi under his father's friend; this would ultimately form the basis for the film and, later, the trilogy. However, in this draft, the father is a hero who is still alive at the start of the film. Between drafts, Lucas read Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and was surprised to find that his first draft "was following classical motifs."
Lucas completed a second draft of The Star Wars in January 1975, making heavy simplifications and introducing the young hero on a farm as Luke Starkiller. Annikin became Luke's father, a wise Jedi knight. "The Force" was also introduced as a mystical energy field. This draft still had some differences from the final version in the characters and relationships. For example, Luke had several brothers, as well as his father, who appears in a minor role at the end of the film. The script became more of a fairy tale quest as opposed to the action/adventure of the previous versions. This version ended with another text crawl, previewing the next story in the series. This draft was also the first to introduce the concept of a Jedi turning to the dark side: the draft included a historical Jedi who was the first to ever fall to the dark side, and then trained the Sith to use it. Lucas hired conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie to create paintings of certain scenes, several of which Lucas included with his screenplay when he delivered it to 20th Century Fox. On February 27, the studio granted a budget of $5 million; this was later increased to $8.25 million.:17:30
A third draft, dated August 1, 1975, was titled The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. This third draft had most of the elements of the final plot, with only some differences in the characters and settings. The draft characterized Luke as an only child, with his father already dead, replacing him with a substitute named Ben Kenobi. This script would be re-written for the fourth and final draft, dated January 1, 1976, as The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars. Lucas worked with his friends Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck to revise the fourth draft into the final pre-production script.
Lucas finished writing his script in March 1976, when the crew started filming. He said, "What finally emerged through the many drafts of the script has obviously been influenced by science-fiction and action-adventure I've read and seen. And I've seen a lot of it. I'm trying to make a classic sort of genre picture, a classic space fantasy in which all the influences are working together. There are certain traditional aspects of the genre I wanted to keep and help perpetuate in Star Wars." During production, he changed Luke's name from Starkiller to Skywalker and altered the title to The Star Wars and later Star Wars. He would also continue to tweak the script during filming, including adding the death of Obi-Wan after realizing he served no purpose in the ending of the film.
For the film's opening crawl, Lucas originally wrote a composition consisting of six paragraphs with four sentences each. He said, "The crawl is such a hard thing because you have to be careful that you're not using too many words that people don't understand. It's like a poem." Lucas showed his draft to his friends. Director Brian De Palma, who was there, described it: "The crawl at the beginning looks like it was written on a driveway. It goes on forever. It's gibberish." Lucas recounted what De Palma said the first time he saw it: "George, you're out of your mind! Let me sit down and write this for you." De Palma helped edit the text into the form used in the film.
George Lucas recruited many conceptual designers, including Colin Cantwell, who worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), to conceptualize the initial spacecraft models; Alex Tavoularis to create the preliminary conceptual storyboard sketches of early scripts; and Ralph McQuarrie to visualize the characters, costumes, props and scenery. McQuarrie's pre-production paintings of certain scenes from Lucas's early screenplay drafts helped 20th Century Fox visualize the film, which positively influenced their decision to fund the project. After McQuarrie's drawings for Lucas's colleagues Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins (who were collaborating for a film) caught his interest, Lucas met with McQuarrie to discuss his plans for the untitled space fantasy film he wanted to make. Two years later, after completing American Graffiti, Lucas approached McQuarrie and asked him if he would be interested "in doing something for Star Wars." McQuarrie produced a series of artworks from simple sketches; these set a visual tone for the film, and for the rest of the original trilogy.
—Lucas on his "used future" backdrop
The film was ambitious as Lucas wanted to create fresh prop prototypes and sets (based on McQuarrie's paintings) that had never been realized before in science fiction films. He commissioned production designers John Barry and Roger Christian, who were working on the sets of the film Lucky Lady (1975) when Lucas first approached them, to work on the production sets. Christian recounted in 2014: "George came to the set I was doing, it was an old salt factory design and he helped me shovel salt, just like two students in plaid shirts and sneakers. And we spoke and he looked at the set and couldn't believe it wasn't real." They had a conversation with Lucas on what he would like the film to appear like, with them creating the desired sets. Christian said that Lucas "didn't want anything [in Star Wars] to stand out, he wanted it [to look] all real and used. And I said, 'Finally somebody's doing it the right way.'"
Lucas described a "used future" concept to the production designers in which all devices, ships, and buildings looked aged and dirty. Instead of following the traditional sleekness and futuristic architecture of science fiction films that came before, the Star Wars sets were designed to look inhabited and used. Barry said that the director "wants to make it look like it's shot on location on your average everyday Death Star or Mos Eisley Spaceport or local cantina." Lucas believed that "what is required for true credibility is a used future", opposing the interpretation of "future in most futurist movies" that "always looks new and clean and shiny." Christian supported Lucas's vision, saying "All science fiction before was very plastic and stupid uniforms and Flash Gordon stuff. Nothing was new. George was going right against that."
The designers started working with the director before Star Wars was approved by 20th Century Fox. For four to five months, in a studio in Kensal Rise, England, they attempted to plan the creation of the props and sets with "no money." Although Lucas initially provided funds using his earnings from American Graffiti, it was inadequate. As they could not afford to dress the sets, Christian was forced to use unconventional methods and materials to achieve the desired look. He suggested that Lucas use scrap in making the dressings, and the director agreed. Christian said, "I've always had this idea. I used to do it with models when I was a kid. I'd stick things on them and we'd make things look old." Barry, Christian, and their team began designing the props and sets at Elstree Studios.
According to Christian, the Millennium Falcon set was the most difficult to build. Christian wanted the interior of the Falcon to look like that of a submarine. He found scrap airplane metal "that no one wanted in those days and bought them." He began his creation process by breaking down jet engines into scrap pieces, giving him the chance to "stick it in the sets in specific ways." It took him several weeks to finish the chess set (which he described as "the most encrusted set") in the hold of the Falcon. The garbage compactor set "was also pretty hard, because I knew I had actors in there and the walls had to come in, and they had to be in dirty water and I had to get stuff that would be light enough so it wouldn't hurt them but also not bobbing around." A total of 30 sets consisting of planets, starships, caves, control rooms, cantinas, and the Death Star corridors were created; all of the nine sound stages at Elstree were used to accommodate them. The massive rebel hangar set was housed at a second sound stage at Shepperton Studios; the stage was the largest in Europe at the time.
In 1975, Lucas formed his own visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) after discovering that 20th Century Fox's visual effects department had been disbanded. ILM began its work on Star Wars in a warehouse in Van Nuys, California. Most of the visual effects used pioneering digital motion control photography developed by John Dykstra and his team, which created the illusion of size by employing small models and slowly moving cameras.
George Lucas tried "to get a cohesive reality" for his feature. However, since the film is a fairy tale, as he had described, "I still wanted it to have an ethereal quality, yet be well composed and, also, have an alien look." He designed the film to have an "extremely bizarre, Gregg Toland-like surreal look with strange over-exposed colors, a lot of shadows, a lot of hot areas." Lucas wanted Star Wars to embrace the combination of "strange graphics of fantasy" and "the feel of a documentary" to impress a distinct look. To achieve this, he hired the British cinematographer Gilbert Taylor. Originally, Lucas's first choice for the position was Geoffrey Unsworth, who also provided the cinematography for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Unsworth was interested in working with the director, and initially accepted the job when it was offered to him by Lucas and Kurtz. However, he eventually withdrew to work on the Vincente Minnelli-directed A Matter of Time (1976) instead, which "really annoy[ed]" Kurtz. Lucas called up for other cinematographers, and eventually chose Taylor, basing his choice on Taylor's cinematography for Dr. Strangelove and A Hard Day's Night (both 1964). On his decision, Lucas said: "I thought they were good, eccentrically photographed pictures with a strong documentary flavor."
Taylor said that Lucas, who was consumed by the details of the complicated production, "avoided all meetings and contact with me from day one, so I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture." He also "took it upon myself to experiment with photographing the lightsabers and other things onstage before we moved on to our two weeks of location work in Tunisia." Taylor was aware of the "enormous amount of process work" to follow principal photography and believed "a crisp result would help."
During production, Lucas and Taylor—whom Kurtz called "old-school" and "crotchety"—had disputes over filming. With a background in independent filmmaking, Lucas was accustomed to creating most of the elements of the film himself. His lighting suggestions were rejected by Taylor, who believed that Lucas was overstepping his boundaries by giving specific instructions, sometimes even moving lights and cameras himself. Taylor refused to use the soft-focus lenses and gauze Lucas wanted after Fox executives complained about the look. Kurtz stated that "In a couple of scenes ... rather than saying, 'It looks a bit over lit, can you fix that?', [Lucas would] say, 'turn off this light, and turn off that light.' And Gil would say, 'No, I won't do that, I've lit it the way I think it should be—tell me what's the effect that you want, and I'll make a judgment about what to do with my lights.'"
Originally, Lucas envisioned the planet of Tatooine, where much of the film would take place, as a jungle planet. Gary Kurtz traveled to the Philippines to scout locations; however, because of the idea of spending months filming in the jungle would make Lucas "itchy", the director refined his vision and made Tatooine a desert planet instead. Kurtz then researched all American, North African, and Middle Eastern deserts, and found Tunisia, near the Sahara desert, as the ideal location. Lucas later stated that he had wanted to make it look like outer space.
When principal photography began on March 22, 1976, in the Tunisian desert for the scenes on Tatooine, the project faced several problems. Lucas fell behind schedule in the first week of shooting due to malfunctioning props and electronic breakdowns. Moreover, a rare Tunisian rainstorm struck the country, which further disrupted filming. Taylor said, "you couldn't really see where the land ended and the sky began. It was all a gray mess, and the robots were just a blur." Given this situation, Lucas requested for heavy filtration, which Taylor rejected, who said: "I thought the look of the film should be absolutely clean ... But George saw it differently, so we tried using nets and other diffusion. He asked to set up one shot on the robots with a 300mm, and the sand and sky just mushed together. I told him it wouldn't work, but he said that was the way he wanted to do the entire film, all diffused." This difference was later settled by 20th Century Fox executives, who backed Taylor's suggestion.
Filming began in Chott el Djerid, while a construction crew in Tozeur took eight weeks to transform the desert into the desired setting. Other locations included the sand dunes of the Tunisian desert near Nafta, where a scene featuring a giant skeleton of a creature lying in the background as R2-D2 and C-3PO make their way across the sands was filmed. When actor Anthony Daniels wore the C-3PO outfit for the first time in Tunisia, the left leg piece shattered down through the plastic covering his left foot, stabbing him. He also could not see through his costume's eyes, which was covered with gold to prevent corrosion. Abnormal radio signals caused by the Tunisian sands made the radio-controlled R2-D2 models run out of control. Kenny Baker, who portrayed R2-D2, said: "I was incredibly grateful each time an [R2] would actually work right." After several scenes were filmed against the volcanic canyons outside Tozeur, production moved to Matmata to film Luke's home on Tatooine. Lucas chose Hotel Sidi Driss, which is larger than the typical underground dwellings, to shoot the interior of Luke's homestead. Additional scenes for Tatooine were filmed at Death Valley in North America.
After two and a half weeks of filming in Tunisia, production moved to Elstree Studios, near London. This was a more controlled environment but, because of strict British working conditions, filming had to finish by 5:30 pm, unless Lucas was in the middle of a scene. Elstree was chosen due to its proximity to North Africa and the availability of top technical crews. It was also the only studio of its kind in Britain or America that could cater for nine large stages at the same time and allow the company complete freedom to use its own personnel. Despite Lucas's efforts, his crew had little interest in the film. Most of the crew considered the project a "children's film", rarely took their work seriously, and often found it unintentionally humorous. Actor Baker later confessed that he thought the film would be a failure. Harrison Ford found it strange that "there's a princess with weird buns in her hair", and called Chewbacca a "giant in a monkey suit."
The Elstree sets designed by John Barry, according to Gilbert Taylor, "were like a coal mine." He said that "they were all black and gray, with really no opportunities for lighting at all." To resolve the problem, he worked the lighting into the sets by chopping in its walls, ceiling and floors. This would result in "a 'cut-out' system of panel lighting", with quartz lamps that could be placed in the holes in the walls, ceiling and floors. His idea was supported by the Fox studio, which agreed that "we couldn't have this 'black hole of Calcutta.'" The lighting approach Taylor devised "allowed George to shoot in almost any direction without extensive relighting, which gave him more freedom." In total, the filming in Britain took 14 and a half weeks.
Lucas commissioned computer programmer Larry Cuba to create the animated Death Star plans shown at the rebel base on Yavin 4. This was written with the GRASS programming language, exported to a Vector General monitor and filmed on 35 mm to be rear-projected on the set. It is the only computer animation in the original version of the film. The Yavin scenes were filmed in the Mayan temples at Tikal, Guatemala. Lucas selected the location as a potential filming site after seeing a poster of it hanging at a travel agency while he was filming in Britain. This inspired him to send a film crew to Guatemala in March 1977 to shoot scenes. While filming in Tikal, the crew paid locals with a six pack of beer to watch over the camera equipment for several days.
While shooting, Lucas rarely spoke to the actors, who believed that he expected too much of them while providing little direction. His directions to the actors usually consisted of the words "faster" and "more intense". Kurtz stated that "it happened a lot where he would just say, 'Let's try it again a little bit faster.' That was about the only instruction he'd give anybody. A lot of actors don't mind—they don't care, they just get on with it. But some actors really need a lot of pampering and a lot of feedback, and if they don't get it, they get paranoid that they might not be doing a good job." Kurtz has said that Lucas "wasn't gregarious, he's very much a loner and very shy, so he didn't like large groups of people, he didn't like working with a large crew, he didn't like working with a lot of actors."
Ladd offered Lucas some of the only support from the studio; he dealt with scrutiny from board members over the rising budget and complex screenplay drafts. Initially, Fox approved $8 million for the project; Gary Kurtz said: "we proceeded to pick a production plan and do a more final budget with a British art department and look for locations in North Africa, and kind of pulled together some things. Then, it was obvious that 8 million wasn't going to do it—they had approved 8 million." After requests from the team that "it had to be more," the executives "got a bit scared." For two weeks, Lucas and his crew "didn't really do anything except kind of pull together new budget figures." At the same time, after production fell behind schedule, Ladd told Lucas he had to finish production within a week or he would be forced to shut down production. Kurtz said that "it came out to be like 9.8 or .9 or something like that, and in the end they just said, 'Yes, that's okay, we'll go ahead.'" The crew split into three units, with those units led by Lucas, Kurtz, and production supervisor Robert Watts. Under the new system, the project met the studio's deadline.
During production, the cast attempted to make Lucas laugh or smile, as he often appeared depressed. At one point, the project became so demanding that Lucas was diagnosed with hypertension and exhaustion and was warned to reduce his stress level. Post-production was equally stressful due to increasing pressure from 20th Century Fox. Moreover, Mark Hamill's car accident left his face visibly scarred, which restricted re-shoots.
Star Wars was originally slated for release on Christmas 1976; however, its production delays pushed the film's release to mid-1977. Already anxious about meeting his deadline, Lucas was shocked when editor John Jympson's first cut of the film was a "complete disaster." After attempting to persuade Jympson to cut the film his way, Lucas replaced him with Paul Hirsch and Richard Chew. He also allowed his then-wife, Marcia Lucas, to aid the editing process while she was cutting the film New York, New York (1977) with Lucas's friend Martin Scorsese. Richard Chew found the film to have a lethargic pace and to have been cut in a by-the-book manner: scenes were played out in master shots that flowed into close-up coverage. He found that the pace was dictated by the actors instead of the cuts. Hirsch and Chew worked on two reels simultaneously.
Jympson's original assembly contained a large amount of footage which differed from the final cut of the film, including several alternate takes and a number of scenes which were subsequently deleted to improve the narrative pace. The most significant material cut was a series of scenes from the first part of the film which introduced Luke Skywalker. These early scenes, set in Anchorhead on the planet Tatooine, presented the audience with Luke's everyday life among his friends as it is affected by the space battle above the planet; they also introduced the character of Biggs Darklighter, Luke's closest friend who departs to join the rebellion. Chew explained the rationale behind removing these scenes as a narrative decision: "In the first five minutes, we were hitting everybody with more information than they could handle. There were too many story lines to keep straight: the robots and the Princess, Vader, Luke. So we simplified it by taking out Luke and Biggs." In an examination of this early cut, which has come to be called the "Lost Cut", David West Reynolds noted the film adopted a "documentary-like" approach that emphasized "clarity, especially in geographic and spatial relationships" over "dramatic or artistic concerns". As a result, the film was more "leisurely paced". Reynolds estimated this early cut contained "30-40%" different footage from the final cut, with most of the differences coming from extended cuts or alternate takes rather than deleted scenes.
After viewing a rough cut, Alan Ladd likened the early Anchorhead scenes to "American Graffiti in outer space." Lucas was looking for a way of accelerating the storytelling, and removing Luke's early scenes would distinguish Star Wars from his earlier teenage drama and "get that American Graffiti feel out of it." Lucas also stated that he wanted to move the narrative focus to C-3PO and R2-D2: "At the time, to have the first half-hour of the film be mainly about robots was a bold idea."
Meanwhile, Industrial Light & Magic was struggling to achieve unprecedented special effects. The company had spent half of its budget on four shots that Lucas deemed unacceptable. With hundreds of uncompleted shots remaining, ILM was forced to finish a year's work in six months. Lucas inspired ILM by editing together aerial dogfights from old war films, which enhanced the pacing of the scenes.
During the chaos of production and post-production, the team made decisions about character voicing and sound effects. Sound designer Ben Burtt had created a library of sounds that Lucas referred to as an "organic soundtrack." Blaster sounds were a modified recording of a steel cable, under tension, being struck. The lightsaber sound effect was developed by Burtt as a combination of the hum of idling interlock motors in aged movie projectors and interference caused by a television set on a shieldless microphone. Burtt discovered the latter accidentally as he was looking for a buzzing, sparking sound to add to the projector-motor hum. For Chewbacca's growls, Burtt recorded and combined sounds made by dogs, bears, lions, tigers, and walruses to create phrases and sentences. Lucas and Burtt created the robotic voice of R2-D2 by filtering their voices through an electronic synthesizer. Darth Vader's breathing was achieved by Burtt breathing through the mask of a scuba regulator implanted with a microphone.
In February 1977, Lucas screened an early cut of the film for Fox executives, several director friends, along with Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin of Marvel Comics who were preparing a Star Wars comic book. The cut had a different crawl from the finished version and used Prowse's voice for Darth Vader. It also lacked most special effects; hand-drawn arrows took the place of blaster beams, and when the Millennium Falcon fought TIE fighters, the film cut to footage of World War II dogfights. The reactions of the directors present, such as Brian De Palma, John Milius, and Steven Spielberg, disappointed Lucas. Spielberg, who said he was the only person in the audience to have enjoyed the film, believed that the lack of enthusiasm was due to the absence of finished special effects. Lucas later said that the group was honest and seemed bemused by the film. In contrast, Ladd and the other studio executives loved the film; Gareth Wigan told Lucas: "This is the greatest film I've ever seen" and cried during the screening. Lucas found the experience shocking and rewarding, having never gained any approval from studio executives before. The delays increased the budget from $8 million to $11 million.
With the project $2 million over budget, Lucas was forced to make numerous artistic compromises to complete Star Wars. Ladd reluctantly agreed to release an extra $20,000 funding and in early 1977 second unit filming completed a number of sequences including exterior desert shots for Tatooine in Death Valley and China Lake Acres in California, and exterior Yavin jungle shots in Guatemala, along with additional studio footage to complete the Mos Eisley Cantina sequence. Lucas had planned to rework a confrontation scene between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt in Mos Eisley Spaceport by compositing a stop-motion animated model of Jabba to replace the actor Declan Mulholland, but with time and money running out, Lucas reluctantly decided to cut the scene entirely. The sequence was later re-instated in the 1997 Special Edition with a computer-generated version of Jabba.
On the recommendation of his friend Steven Spielberg, Lucas hired composer John Williams. Williams had worked with Spielberg on the film Jaws, for which he won an Academy Award. Lucas believed that the film would portray visually foreign worlds, but that the musical score would give the audience an emotional familiarity; he wanted a grand musical sound for Star Wars, with leitmotifs to provide distinction. Therefore, he assembled his favorite orchestral pieces for the soundtrack, until Williams convinced him that an original score would be unique and more unified. However, a few of Williams's pieces were influenced by the tracks given to him by Lucas: the "Main Title Theme" was inspired by the theme from the 1942 film Kings Row, scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold; and the track "Dune Sea of Tatooine" drew from the soundtrack of Bicycle Thieves, scored by Alessandro Cicognini.
In March 1977, Williams conducted the London Symphony Orchestra to record the Star Wars soundtrack in 12 days. The original soundtrack was released as a double LP in 1977 by 20th Century Records. 20th Century Records also released The Story of Star Wars that same year, a narrated audio drama adaptation of the film utilizing some of its original music, dialogue, and sound effects. The American Film Institute's list of best film scores ranks the Star Wars soundtrack at number one.
Cinematic and literary allusions
According to Lucas, different concepts of the film were inspired by numerous sources, such as Beowulf and King Arthur for the origins of myth and religion. Lucas had originally intended to remake the 1930s Flash Gordon film serials, but was unable to obtain the rights; thus, he resorted to drawing from Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film The Hidden Fortress and Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Star Wars features many elements derived from Flash Gordon, such as the conflict between rebels and Imperial Forces, the wipes between scenes, the fusion of futuristic technology and traditional mythology, and the famous opening crawl that begins each film. The film has also been compared to The Wizard of Oz.
The influence of The Hidden Fortress can be seen in the relationship between C-3PO and R2-D2, which evolved from the two bickering peasants, Tahei and Matashichi, and a Japanese family crest seen in the earlier film is similar to the Imperial Crest. Star Wars also borrows heavily from another Kurosawa film, Yojimbo (1961). In both films, several men threaten the hero, bragging about how wanted they are by the authorities, and have an arm being cut off by a blade; Kuwabatake Sanjuro (portrayed by Toshiro Mifune) is offered "... twenty-five ryo now, twenty-five when you complete the mission ...", whereas Han Solo is offered "Two thousand now, plus fifteen when we reach Alderaan." Its sequel Sanjuro (1962) also inspired the hiding-under-the-floor trick featured in the film. Another source of influence was Lawrence of Arabia (1962), which inspired the film's visual approach, including long-lens desert shots. There are also thematic parallels, including the freedom fight by a rebel army against an empire, and politicians who meddle behind the scenes.
Tatooine is similar to the desert planet of Arrakis from Frank Herbert's Dune series. Arrakis is the only known source of a longevity spice; Star Wars makes references to spice in "the spice mines of Kessel", and a spice freighter. Other similarities include those between Princess Leia and Princess Alia, and Jedi mind tricks and "The Voice", a controlling ability used by the Bene Gesserit. In passing, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are "moisture farmers"; in Dune, dew collectors are used by Fremen to "provide a small but reliable source of water." Frank Herbert reported that "David Lynch, [director of the 1984 film Dune] had trouble with the fact that Star Wars used up so much of Dune." The pair found "sixteen points of identity" and they calculated that "the odds against coincidence produced a number larger than the number of stars in the universe."
The Death Star assault scene was modeled after the World War II film The Dam Busters (1955), in which Royal Air Force Lancaster bombers fly along heavily defended reservoirs and aim bouncing bombs at dams, in order to cripple the heavy industry of Germany's Ruhr region. Some of the dialogue in The Dam Busters is repeated in the Star Wars climax; Gilbert Taylor also filmed the special effects sequences in The Dam Busters. In addition, the sequence was partially inspired by the climax of the film 633 Squadron (1964), directed by Walter Grauman, in which RAF de Havilland Mosquitos attack a German heavy water plant by flying down a narrow fjord to drop special bombs at a precise point, while avoiding anti-aircraft guns and German fighters. Clips from both films were included in Lucas's temporary dogfight footage version of the sequence. There are also similarities in the Death Star trench sequence to the bridge attack scene in The Bridges at Toko-Ri.
The opening shot of Star Wars, in which a detailed spaceship fills the screen overhead, is a reference to the scene introducing the interplanetary spacecraft Discovery One in Stanley Kubrick's seminal 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The earlier big-budget science fiction film influenced the look of Star Wars in many other ways, including the use of EVA pods and hexagonal corridors. The Death Star has a docking bay reminiscent of the one on the orbiting space station in 2001. Although golden and male, C-3PO was inspired by the silver female robot Maria, the Maschinenmensch from Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis.
While the film was in production, a logo was commissioned from Dan Perri, a title sequence designer who had worked on the titles for films such as The Exorcist (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976). Perri devised a foreshortened STAR WARS logotype consisting of block-capital letters filled with stars and skewed towards a vanishing point. This logo design was originally conceived to follow the same perspective as the film's opening crawl. In the end, Perri's logo was not used for the film's opening title sequence, although it was used widely on pre-release print advertising and on cinema marquees.
The logotype eventually selected for on-screen use originated in a promotional brochure that was distributed by Fox to cinema owners in 1976. This brochure was designed by Suzy Rice, a young art director at the Los Angeles advertising agency Seiniger Advertising. On a visit to ILM in Van Nuys, Rice was instructed by Lucas to produce a logo that would intimidate the viewer, and he reportedly asked for the logo to appear "very fascist" in style. Rice's response to her brief was to use an outlined, modified Helvetica Black. After some feedback from Lucas, Rice decided to join the S and T of STAR and the R and S of WARS. Lucas signed off on the brochure in between takes while filming inserts for the Mos Eisley Cantina scene. Gary Kurtz was impressed with Rice's logo and selected it over Perri's design for the film's opening titles, after modifying the letter W to flatten the pointed tips originally designed by Rice. This finalized the design of one of the most recognisable logos in cinema design, although Rice's contribution was not credited in the film.
For the US release in 1977, 20th Century Fox commissioned a promotional film poster from the advertising agency Smolen, Smith and Connolly. They used the freelance artist Tom Jung who was given the brief of "good over evil." His poster, known as Style ‘A’, depicted Luke Skywalker standing in a heroic pose, brandishing a shining lightsaber above his head, with Princess Leia below him, and a large, ghostly image of Darth Vader's helmet looming behind them. Some Fox executives considered this poster "too dark" and commissioned the Brothers Hildebrandt, a pair of well-known fantasy artists, to rework the poster for the UK release. When the film opened in British theaters, the Hildebrandts' Style ‘B’ poster was used in cinema billboards. Fox and Lucasfilm subsequently decided that they wanted to promote the new film with a less stylised and more realistic depiction of the lead characters. Producer Gary Kurtz turned to the film poster artist Tom Chantrell, who was already well known for his prolific work for Hammer horror films, and commissioned a new version. Two months after Star Wars opened, the Hildebrandts' poster was replaced by Chantrell's Style ‘C’ poster in UK cinemas.
Charles Lippincott was the marketing director for Star Wars. As 20th Century Fox gave little support for marketing beyond licensing T-shirts and posters, Lippincott was forced to look elsewhere. He secured deals with Marvel Comics for a comic book adaptation, and with Del Rey Books for a novelization. A fan of science fiction, he used his contacts to promote the film at the San Diego Comic-Con and elsewhere within science-fiction fandom.
While initially only being released in a limited theatrical run, Star Wars was an unprecedented success for 20th Century Fox, soon becoming a blockbuster hit and expanding to a much wider release. It would eventually see many theatrical and home video re-releases.
Premiere and initial release
Worried that Star Wars would be beaten out by other summer films, such as Smokey and the Bandit, 20th Century Fox moved the release date to May 25, the Wednesday before Memorial Day. However, fewer than 40 theaters ordered the film to be shown. In response, the studio demanded that theaters order Star Wars if they wanted the eagerly anticipated The Other Side of Midnight based on the novel by the same name.
Star Wars debuted on Wednesday, May 25, 1977, in fewer than 32 theaters, and eight more on Thursday and Friday. Kurtz said in 2002, "That would be laughable today." It immediately broke box office records, effectively becoming one of the first blockbuster films, and Fox accelerated plans to broaden its release. Lucas himself was not able to predict how successful Star Wars would be. After visiting the set of the Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Lucas was sure Close Encounters would outperform the yet-to-be-released Star Wars at the box office. Spielberg disagreed, and believed Star Wars would be the bigger hit. Lucas proposed they trade 2.5% of the profit on each other's films; Spielberg took the trade, and still receives 2.5% of the profits from Star Wars.
Fox initially had doubts if Star Wars would emerge successful. The Other Side of Midnight was supposed to be the studio's big summer hit, while Lucas's movie was considered the "B track" for theater owners nationwide. While Fox requested Mann's Chinese Theatre, the studio promised that the film only needed two weeks. Fearing that the film would fail, Lucas had made plans to be in Hawaii with his wife Marcia. Having forgotten that the film would open that day, he spent most of Wednesday in a sound studio in Los Angeles. When Lucas went out for lunch with Marcia, they encountered a long line of people along the sidewalks leading to Mann's Chinese Theatre, waiting to see Star Wars. He was still skeptical of the film's success, even with enthusiastic reports from Ladd and the studio. While in Hawaii, it was not until he watched Walter Cronkite discuss the gigantic crowds for Star Wars on the CBS Evening News that Lucas realized he had become very wealthy; Francis Ford Coppola, who needed money to finish Apocalypse Now, sent a telegram to Lucas's hotel asking for funding. Even technical crew members, such as model makers, were asked for autographs, and cast members became instant household names; when Ford visited a record store to buy an album, enthusiastic fans tore half his shirt off.
The film was a huge success for 20th Century Fox, and was credited for reinvigorating the company. Within three weeks of the film's release, the studio's stock price had doubled to a record high. Prior to 1977, 20th Century Fox's greatest annual profits were $37 million, while in 1977, the company broke that record by posting a profit of $79 million. Although the film's cultural neutrality helped it to gain international success, Ladd became anxious during the premiere in Japan. After the screening, the audience was silent, leading him to fear that the film would be unsuccessful. Ladd was reassured by his local contacts that this was a positive reaction considering that in Japan, silence was the greatest honor to a film, and the subsequent strong box office returns confirmed its popularity.
After two weeks William Friedkin's Sorcerer replaced Star Wars at Mann's Chinese Theatre because of contractual obligations; Mann Theatres moved the film to a less-prestigious location after quickly renovating it. When Star Wars made an unprecedented second opening at Mann's Chinese Theatre on August 3, 1977, after Sorcerer failed, thousands of people attended a ceremony in which C-3PO, R2-D2 and Darth Vader placed their footprints in the theater's forecourt. At that time Star Wars was playing in 1,096 theaters in the United States. Approximately 60 theaters played the film continuously for over a year; in 1978, Lucasfilm distributed "Birthday Cake" posters to those theaters for special events on May 25, the one-year anniversary of the film's release. Star Wars premiered in the UK on December 27, 1977. News reports of the film's popularity in America caused long lines to form at the two London theaters that first offered the film; it became available in 12 large cities in January 1978, and other London theaters in February.
Star Wars was re-released theatrically in 1978, 1979, 1981 and 1982, with the subtitle Episode IV – A New Hope being added in 1981. The film was digitally remastered with some altered scenes in 1997 for a theatrical rerelease, dubbed the "Special Edition." Since its original release, the film has also been dubbed and subtitled into numerous languages. In 2013, Star Wars was dubbed into Navajo, making it the first major motion picture translated into a Native American language. In 2010, Lucas announced that all six previously released Star Wars films would be scanned and transferred to 3D for a theatrical release, but only 3D versions of the prequel trilogy were completed before the franchise was sold to Disney in 2012.
Addition of subtitles
The subtitle Episode IV – A New Hope was first introduced in the 1979 book The Art of Star Wars,[a] and added to the opening crawl in re-releases. Official sources state that the change was made at the theatrical re-release of April 10, 1981.[b]
The retroactive addition of these subtitles was intended to bring the film into line with the introduction to its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, which was released in 1980 bearing the designation "Episode V". Lucas has claimed to have had Episode IV's subtitle in mind before its release, but removed it to avoid confusing audiences. Kurtz has corroborated that they had originally considered using a higher episode number to emulate the chapter numbering used in the Flash Gordon serial.[c]
After ILM used computer-generated effects for Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Jurassic Park, Lucas decided that digital technology had caught up to his "original vision" for Star Wars. For the film's 20th anniversary in 1997, Star Wars was digitally remastered with some altered scenes and re-released to theaters, along with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, under the campaign title Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. This version of the film runs 124 minutes.
The Special Edition contains visual shots and scenes that were unachievable in the original release due to financial, technological, and time constraints; one such scene involves a meeting between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt. The process of creating the new visual effects for Star Wars was featured in the documentary film, Special Effects: Anything Can Happen, directed by Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt. Although most changes are minor or cosmetic in nature, many fans and critics believe that Lucas degraded the film with the additions. A particularly controversial change in which a bounty hunter named Greedo shoots first when confronting Han Solo has inspired T-shirts brandishing the phrase "Han Shot First."
Star Wars required extensive recovery of misplaced footage and restoration of the whole film before Lucas's Special Edition modifications could be attempted. It was discovered that in addition to the negative motion picture stocks commonly used on feature films, Lucas had also used Color Reversal Internegative (CRI) film, a reversal stock subsequently discontinued by Kodak. CRI proved to deteriorate faster than negative stocks did, although it theoretically was of higher quality, as it saved two generations (an interpositive followed by an internegative), where employed. Because of this, the entire composited negative had to be disassembled, and the CRI portions cleaned separately from the negative portions. Once the cleaning was complete, the film was scanned into the computer for restoration. In many cases, entire scenes had to be reconstructed from their individual elements. Digital compositing technology allowed the restorers to correct for problems such as misalignment of mattes and "blue-spill."
In 1989, the 1977 theatrical version of Star Wars was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress. 35mm reels of the 1997 Special Edition were initially presented for preservation because of the difficulty of transferring from the original prints, but it was later revealed that the Library possessed a copyright deposit print of the original theatrical release. By 2015, this copy had been transferred to a 2K scan, now available to be viewed by appointment.
In the United States, France, West Germany, Italy and Japan, parts of or the whole film were released on Super 8. The whole film was released for all these countries (including silent editions and an American Spanish-language edition), except for Italy, where it was released by IE International as seven brief scenes: Battaglia spaziale ("Space battle", the Battle of Yavin), Duello col laser ("Duel with the laser",[d] Obi-Wan and Darth Vader's duel), La liberazione di Leia ("Leia's liberation", the adventure on the Death Star), Messaggio dallo spazio ("Message from space", Leia giving R2-D2 the plans), SOS nella galassia ("SOS in the galaxy") and Trappola mortale ("Deadly trap", the Falcon being captured by the Death Star).
Star Wars debuted on Betamax, CED, LaserDisc, Video 2000, and VHS between the 1980s and 1990s by CBS/Fox Video. The final issue of the original theatrical release (pre-Special Edition) to VHS format occurred in 1995, as part of "Last Chance to Own the Original" campaign, available as part of a trilogy set and as a standalone purchase. The film was released for the first time on DVD on September 21, 2004, in a box set with The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and a bonus disc of supplementary material. The films were digitally restored and remastered, and more changes were made by Lucas. The DVD features a commentary track from Lucas, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher. The bonus disc contains the documentary Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy, three featurettes, teasers, theatrical trailers, TV spots, still galleries, an exclusive preview of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, a playable Xbox demo of the LucasArts game Star Wars: Battlefront, and a making-of documentary on the Episode III video game. The set was reissued in December 2005 as part of a three-disc limited edition boxed set without the bonus disc.
The trilogy was re-released on separate two-disc limited edition DVD sets from September 12 to December 31, 2006, and again in a limited edition tin box set on November 4, 2008; the original versions of the films were added as bonus material. The release was met with criticism as the unaltered versions were from the 1993 non-anamorphic LaserDisc masters and were not re-transferred using modern video standards. The transfer led to problems with colors and digital image jarring.
All six Star Wars films were released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on Blu-ray Disc on September 16, 2011 in three different editions, with A New Hope available in both a box set of the original trilogy and with all six films on Star Wars: The Complete Saga, which includes nine discs and over 40 hours of special features. The original theatrical versions of the films were not included in the box set; however, the new 2011 revisions of the trilogy were leaked a month prior to release, inciting controversy the new changes made to these movies and causing an online uproar against Lucas.
On April 7, 2015, Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, and Lucasfilm jointly announced the digital releases of the six released Star Wars films. Fox released A New Hope for digital download on April 10, 2015.[e] All six films will be available for streaming on Disney+ within the first year of the service's launch.
In December 2016, an interview done by Rogue One director Gareth Edwards revealed that Lucasfilm had recently completed a 4K restoration of the film, but did not elaborate on whether the restored version was based on the 1977 original or a subsequent re-release.
Star Wars remains one of the most financially successful films of all time. The film opened on a Wednesday in 32 theaters expanding to 43 screens on the Friday and earning $2,556,418 in its first six days to the end of the Memorial Day weekend ($10.6 million in 2018 dollars). It gradually added screens, building up to $7 million weekends as it entered wide release ($28.9 million in 2018 dollars). It replaced Jaws as the highest-earning film in North America just six months into release, eventually earning over $220 million during its initial theatrical run ($910 million in 2018 dollars). Star Wars entered international release towards the end of the year, and in 1978 added the worldwide record to its domestic one, earning $410 million in total ($1.699 billion in 2018 dollars).
On July 21, 1978 while still in current release in 38 theatres in the U.S., the film expanded into a 1,744 theatre national saturation windup of release and set a new U.S. weekend record of $10,202,726. The gross prior to the expansion was $221,280,994. The expansion added a further $43,774,911 to take its gross to $265,055,905. Reissues in 1979 ($22,455,262), 1981 ($17,247,363), and 1982 ($17,981,612) brought its cumulative gross in the U.S and Canada to $323 million, and extended its global earnings to $530 million. The film remained the highest-grossing film of all time until E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial broke that record in 1983.
Following the release of the Special Edition in 1997, Star Wars briefly reclaimed the North American record before losing it again the following year to Titanic. In total, the film has earned $775,398,007 worldwide (including $460,998,007 in North America alone). Adjusted for inflation, it has earned over $2.5 billion worldwide at 2011 prices, making it the most successful franchise film of all time. According to Guinness World Records, the film ranks as the third-highest-grossing film when adjusting for inflation; at the North American box office, it ranks second behind Gone with the Wind on the inflation-adjusted list.
The film was met with critical acclaim upon its release. In his 1977 review, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "an out-of-body experience", compared its special effects to those of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and opined that the true strength of the film was its "pure narrative." Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "the movie that's going to entertain a lot of contemporary folk who have a soft spot for the virtually ritualized manners of comic-book adventure" and "the most elaborate, most expensive, most beautiful movie serial ever made." A.D. Murphy of Variety described the film as "magnificent" and said George Lucas had succeeded in his attempt to create the "biggest possible adventure fantasy" based on the serials and older action epics from his childhood. Writing for The Washington Post, Gary Arnold gave the film a positive review, writing that the film "is a new classic in a rousing movie tradition: a space swashbuckler." However, the film was not without its detractors: Pauline Kael of The New Yorker criticized Star Wars, stating that "there's no breather in the picture, no lyricism", and that it had no "emotional grip." John Simon of New York magazine also panned the film and wrote, "Strip Star Wars of its often striking images and its highfalutin scientific jargon, and you get a story, characters, and dialogue of overwhelming banality." Stanley Kauffmann, reviewing the film in The New Republic, opined that it "was made for those (particularly males) who carry a portable shrine within them of their adolescence, a chalice of a Self that was Better Then, before the world's affairs or—in any complex way—sex intruded."
When Star Wars opened in the UK, stating that Lucas's earlier films were better, Derek Malcolm of The Guardian concluded that it "plays enough games to satisfy the most sophisticated." The Daily Telegraph's science correspondent Adrian Berry said that Star Wars "is the best such film since 2001 and in certain respects it is one of the most exciting ever made." He described the plot as "unpretentious and pleasantly devoid of any 'message.'"
The film continues to receive critical acclaim from modern critics. The film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes indicates a 93% approval rating based on 117 reviews with an overall rating of 8.73/10. Its consensus states in summary, "A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster filmmaking and things have never been the same." Metacritic reports an aggregate score of 90 out of 100 (based on 24 reviews), indicating "universal acclaim." In his 1997 review of the film's 20th anniversary release, Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune gave the film four out of four stars, saying, "A grandiose and violent epic with a simple and whimsical heart." A San Francisco Chronicle staff member described the film as "a thrilling experience." In 2001 Matt Ford of the BBC awarded the film five out of five stars and wrote, "Star Wars isn't the best film ever made, but it is universally loved." CinemaScore reported that audiences for Star Wars's 1999 re-release gave the film a "A+" grade.
Gene Siskel, writing for the Chicago Tribune in 1999, said, "What places it a sizable cut above the routine is its spectacular visual effects, the best since Stanley Kubrick's 2001." Andrew Collins of Empire magazine awarded the film five out of five and said, "Star Wars' timeless appeal lies in its easily identified, universal archetypes—goodies to root for, baddies to boo, a princess to be rescued and so on—and if it is most obviously dated to the 70s by the special effects, so be it." In his 2009 review, Robert Hatch of The Nation called the film "an outrageously successful, what will be called a 'classic,' compilation of nonsense, largely derived but thoroughly reconditioned. I doubt that anyone will ever match it, though the imitations must already be on the drawing boards." In a more critical review, Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader stated, "None of these characters has any depth, and they're all treated like the fanciful props and settings." Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix said, "Star Wars is a junkyard of cinematic gimcracks not unlike the Jawas' heap of purloined, discarded, barely functioning droids."
The film garnered numerous accolades after its release. Star Wars won six competitive Academy Awards at the 50th Academy Awards: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects. A Special Achievement for Sound Effects Editing went to sound designer Ben Burtt and a Scientific and Engineering Award went to John Dykstra for the development of the Dykstraflex Camera (shared with Alvah J. Miller and Jerry Jeffress, who were both granted for the engineering of the Electronic Motion Control System). Additional nominations included Alec Guinness for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, which went to Jason Robards for Julia and George Lucas for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture, which were instead awarded to Woody Allen's Annie Hall.
At the 35th Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Alec Guinness), and it won the award for Best Score. It received six British Academy Film Awards nominations: Best Film, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Production/Art Design, Best Sound, and Best Score; the film won in the latter two categories. John Williams's soundtrack album won the Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Score for a Motion Picture or Television Program, and the film attained the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
The film also received twelve nominations at the Saturn Awards, winning nine: Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction and Best Writing for George Lucas, Best Supporting Actor for Alec Guinness, Best Music for John Williams, Best Costume for John Mollo, Best Make-up for Rick Baker and Stuart Freeborn, Best Special Effects for John Dykstra and John Stears, and Outstanding Editing for Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew.
The original Star Wars trilogy is considered one of the best film trilogies in history. Lucas has often stated that the entire trilogy was intended to be considered one film. However, he said that his story material for Star Wars was too long for a single film, prompting Lucas to split the story into multiple films. Lucas also stated that the story evolved over time and that "There was never a script completed that had the entire story as it exists now [in 1983] ... As the stories unfolded, I would take certain ideas and save them ... I kept taking out all the good parts, and I just kept telling myself I would make other movies someday." In early interviews, it was suggested the series might comprise nine or twelve films.
Star Wars launched the careers of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher. Ford, who subsequently starred in the Indiana Jones series (1981–1989, 2008), Blade Runner (1982), and Witness (1985) after working on the film, told the Daily Mirror that Star Wars "boosted my career", and said, "I think the great luck of my career is that I've made these family movies which are introduced to succeeding generations of kids by their families at the time it seems appropriate."
The film has spawned a series of films consisting of three trilogies (including the original film), anthology films and an extensive media franchise called the Star Wars expanded universe including books, television series, computer and video games, and comic books. All of the main films have been box office successes, with the overall box office revenue generated by the Star Wars films (including the animated The Clone Wars) totaling over $6.5 billion, making it the second highest-grossing film series as of 2019.
The film also spawned the Star Wars Holiday Special, which debuted on CBS on November 17, 1978 and is often considered a failure; Lucas himself disowned it. The special has never been aired after its original broadcast, and it has never been officially released on home video. However, many bootleg copies exist, and the special has consequently become something of an underground legend.
A radio drama adaptation of the film was broadcast on the American National Public Radio network in 1981. The adaptation was written by Brian Daley and directed by John Madden, and was produced with cooperation from George Lucas, who donated the rights to NPR. John Williams's music and Ben Burtt's sound design were retained for the show, and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) reprised their roles. The radio drama narrative began with a version of the backstory to the film which relates Princess Leia's acquisition of the secret Death Star plans. It also featured scenes not seen in the final cut of the film, such as Luke Skywalker's observation of the space battle above Tatooine through binoculars, a skyhopper race, and Darth Vader's interrogation of Princess Leia. The radio version was originally considered to be part of the official Star Wars canon, but has since been supplanted by revised canonical narratives.
In popular culture
Star Wars and its ensuing film installments have been explicitly referenced and satirized across a wide range of media. Hardware Wars, released in 1978, was one of the first fan films to parody Star Wars. It received positive critical reaction, went to earn over $1 million, and is one of Lucas's favorite Star Wars spoofs. Writing for The New York Times, Frank DeCaro said, "Star Wars littered pop culture of the late 1970s with a galaxy of space junk." He cited Quark (a short-lived 1977 sitcom that parodies the science fiction genre) and Donny & Marie (a 1970s variety show that produced a 10-minute musical adaptation of Star Wars guest starring Daniels and Mayhew) as "television's two most infamous examples." Mel Brooks's Spaceballs, a satirical comic science fiction parody, was released in 1987 to mixed reviews. Lucas permitted Brooks to make a spoof of the film under "one incredibly big restriction: no action figures."
Contemporary animated comedy TV series Family Guy, Robot Chicken, and The Simpsons have produced episodes satirizing the film series. Star Wars, together with Lucas, is the subject of the 2010 documentary film The People vs. George Lucas that details the issues of filmmaking and fanaticism pertaining to the film franchise and its creator. Many elements of the film have also endured presence in popular culture. The iconic weapon of choice of the Jedi, the lightsaber, was voted as the most popular weapon in film history in a survey of approximately 2,000 film fans. Characters such as Darth Vader, Han Solo, and Yoda have become iconic, and all three were named in the top twenty of the British Film Institute's "Best Sci-Fi Characters of All-Time" list. The expressions "Evil empire" and "May the Force be with you" have become part of the popular lexicon. A pun on the latter phrase has led to May 4 being regarded by many fans of the franchise as an unofficial Star Wars Day. To commemorate the film's 30th anniversary in May 2007, the United States Postal Service issued a set of 15 stamps depicting the characters of the franchise. Approximately 400 mailboxes across the country were also designed to look like R2-D2.
Film critic Roger Ebert wrote in his book The Great Movies, "Like The Birth of a Nation and Citizen Kane, Star Wars was a technical watershed that influenced many of the movies that came after." It began a new generation of special effects and high-energy motion pictures. The film was one of the first films to link genres together to invent a new, high-concept genre for filmmakers to build upon. Finally, along with Steven Spielberg's Jaws, it shifted the film industry's focus away from personal filmmaking of the 1970s and towards fast-paced, big-budget blockbusters for younger audiences.
Filmmakers who have said to have been influenced by Star Wars include James Cameron, J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Dean Devlin, Gareth Edwards, Roland Emmerich, John Lasseter, David Fincher, Peter Jackson, Joss Whedon, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, John Singleton, and Kevin Smith. Scott, Cameron, and Jackson were influenced by Lucas's concept of the "used future" (where vehicles and culture are obviously dated) and extended the concept for their films, such as Scott's science fiction films Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982), Cameron's acclaimed sequel Aliens (1986) and his earlier breakthrough film The Terminator (1984). Jackson used the concept for his production of The Lord of the Rings trilogy to add a sense of realism and believability. Christopher Nolan cited Star Wars as an influence when making the 2010 blockbuster film, Inception.
Some critics have blamed Star Wars, as well as Jaws, for ruining Hollywood by shifting its focus from "sophisticated" films such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Annie Hall to films about spectacle and juvenile fantasy. One such critic, Peter Biskind, complained, "When all was said and done, Lucas and Spielberg returned the 1970s audience, grown sophisticated on a diet of European and New Hollywood films, to the simplicities of the pre-1960s Golden Age of movies... They marched backward through the looking-glass." In an opposing view, Tom Shone wrote that through Star Wars and Jaws, Lucas and Spielberg "didn't betray cinema at all: they plugged it back into the grid, returning the medium to its roots as a carnival sideshow, a magic act, one big special effect", which was "a kind of rebirth."
In its May 30, 1977 issue, the film's year of release, Time magazine named Star Wars the "Movie of the Year." The publication said it was a "big early supporter" of the vision which would become Star Wars. In an article intended for the cover of the issue, Time's Gerald Clarke wrote that Star Wars is "a grand and glorious film that may well be the smash hit of 1977, and certainly is the best movie of the year so far. The result is a remarkable confection: a subliminal history of the movies, wrapped in a riveting tale of suspense and adventure, ornamented with some of the most ingenious special effects ever contrived for film." Each of the subsequent films of the Star Wars saga has appeared on the magazine's cover.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills (2001) – #27
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains (2003):
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes (2004):
- AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores (2005) – #1
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers (2006) – #39
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) (2007) – #13
- AFI's 10 Top 10 (2008) – #2 Sci-Fi Film
American Film Institute
Star Wars was voted the second most popular film by Americans in a 2008 nationwide poll conducted by the market research firm, Harris Interactive. Star Wars has also been featured in several high-profile audience polls: in 1997, it ranked as the 10th Greatest American Film on the Los Angeles Daily News Readers' Poll; in 2002, the film and its sequel The Empire Strikes Back were voted as the greatest films ever made in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Films poll; in 2011, it ranked as Best Sci-Fi Film on Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time, a primetime special aired by ABC that counted down the best films as chosen by fans, based on results of a poll conducted by ABC and People magazine; in 2014 the film placed 11th in a poll undertaken by The Hollywood Reporter, which balloted every studio, agency, publicity firm, and production house in the Hollywood region.
Reputable publications also have included Star Wars in their best films lists: in 2008, Empire magazine ranked Star Wars at No. 22 on its list of the "500 Greatest Movies of All Time"; in 2010, the film ranked among the "All-Time 100" list of the greatest films as chosen by Time magazine film critic Richard Schickel; the film was also placed on a similar list created by The New York Times, "The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made"; in 2012, the film was included in Sight & Sound's prestigious decennial critics poll "Critics' Top 250 Films", ranking at 171st on the list, and in their directors poll at 224th.
Lucas's original screenplay was selected by the Writers Guild of America as the 68th greatest of all time. In 1989, the United States Library of Congress named Star Wars among its first selections to the National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"; at the time, it was the most recent film to be selected and it was the only film from the 1970s to be chosen. Although Lucas declined to provide the Library with a workable copy of the original film upon request (instead offering the Special Edition), a viewable scan was made of the original copyright deposit print. The soundtrack was added to the United States National Recording Registry 15 years later (in 2004). The lack of a commercially available version of the 1977 original theatrical edit of the film since early '80s VHS releases has spawned numerous restorations by disgruntled fans over the years, such as Harmy's Despecialized Edition.
In addition to the film's multiple awards and nominations, Star Wars has also been recognized by the American Film Institute on several of its lists. The film ranks first on 100 Years of Film Scores, second on Top 10 Sci-Fi Films, 15th on 100 Years...100 Movies (ranked 13th on the updated 10th anniversary edition), 27th on 100 Years...100 Thrills, and 39th on 100 Years...100 Cheers. In addition, the quote "May the Force be with you" is ranked eighth on 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes, and Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi are ranked as the 14th and 37th greatest heroes respectively on 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains.
Little Star Wars merchandise was available for several months after the film's debut, as only Kenner Products had accepted marketing director Charles Lippincott's licensing offers. Kenner responded to the sudden demand for toys by selling boxed vouchers in its "empty box" Christmas campaign. Television commercials told children and parents that vouchers within a "Star Wars Early Bird Certificate Package" could be redeemed for four action figures between February and June 1978. Jay West of the Los Angeles Times said that the boxes in the campaign "became the most coveted empty box[es] in the history of retail." In 2012, the Star Wars action figures were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.
The novelization of the film was published as Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker in December 1976, six months before the film was released. The credited author was George Lucas, but the book was revealed to have been ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster. Marketing director Charles Lippincott secured the deal with Del Rey Books to publish the novelization in November 1976. By February 1977, a half million copies had been sold. Foster also wrote the sequel novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye (1978) to be adapted as a low-budget film if Star Wars was not a financial success.
Marvel Comics also adapted the film as the first six issues of its licensed Star Wars comic book, with the first issue sold in April 1977. Roy Thomas was the writer and Howard Chaykin was the artist of the adaptation. Like the novelization, it contained certain elements, such as the scene with Luke and Biggs, that appeared in the screenplay but not in the finished film. The series was so successful that, according to Jim Shooter, it "single-handedly saved Marvel." In 2013, Dark Horse Comics published a comic adaption of the original screenplay's plot.
Lucasfilm adapted the story for a children's book-and-record set. Released in 1979, the 24-page Star Wars read-along book was accompanied by a 33⅓ rpm 7-inch phonograph record. Each page of the book contained a cropped frame from the movie with an abridged and condensed version of the story. The record was produced by Buena Vista Records, and its content was copyrighted by Black Falcon, Ltd., a subsidiary of Lucasfilm "formed to handle the merchandising for Star Wars." The Story of Star Wars was a 1977 record album presenting an abridged version of the events depicted in Star Wars, using dialogue and sound effects from the original film. The recording was produced by George Lucas and Alan Livingston, and was narrated by Roscoe Lee Browne. The script was adapted by E. Jack Kaplan and Cheryl Gard.
An audio CD boxed set of the Star Wars radio series was released in 1993, containing the original 1981 radio drama along with the radio adaptations of the sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
- List of films considered the best
- List of films featuring extraterrestrials
- List of films featuring space stations
- The revised fourth draft of the script, dated January 1975, was subtitled "Episode IV: A New Hope – from the Journal of the Whills", referencing Lucas's original two-page outline.
- One account places the title change at the film's re-release in July 1978. (Hearn 2005, p. 124)
- Some of Lucas's early script drafts bear titles such as "The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): The Star Wars" (1975) or "The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as Taken from the Journal of the Whills: Saga One: Star Wars" (1976).
- In Italian, the lightsabers are known as "spade laser" ("laser swords", which was their original name).
- Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the other five films.
- "Star Wars". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
- "Star Wars (1977)". Archived from the original on July 9, 2017.
- "Star Wars (1977)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- Cyriaque Lamar (January 13, 2012). "Behold, the 1977 budget breakdown for Star Wars". io9. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- Anderson, Kevin J. (1995). The Illustrated Star Wars Universe. New York: Bantam Books. pp. 204–5. ISBN 0-553-09302-9.
- Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy. Star Wars Trilogy Box Set DVD documentary. 
- Russo, Tom. "The Force Wasn't With Them". Premiere. Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. Archived from the original on May 8, 2006. Retrieved October 3, 2006.
- Alison, Nastasi (August 5, 2010). "Imagine That: Sly Stallone Auditioned for Han Solo". cinematical.com. Moviefone. Archived from the original on August 6, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
- Evans, Bradford (February 17, 2011). "The Lost Roles of Bill Murray". Archived from the original on May 20, 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
- Farr, John (September 19, 2014). "Bill Murray and the Roles That Got Away". Retrieved May 25, 2015.
- "Is it true about Burt Reynolds and Han Solo?". About.com. Archived from the original on December 25, 2005. Retrieved October 3, 2006.
- Weller, Scott. "Princess Jodie and the Haunting of Carrie Fisher". Star Wars Aficionado Magazine. Archived from the original on February 26, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
- "Carrie Fisher Told To Lose Weight For 'Star Wars' Role". The Huffington Post. AOL. November 8, 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
- Sietz, Dan (April 18, 2013). "'Peter Cushing: A Life In Film' Is A Genre Geek's Dream". Uproxx. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- Brian Ashcraft. "How Star Wars Might've Had a Different Darth Vader". Kotaku. Gawker Media.
- Lee, Benjamin (December 4, 2015). "Toshiro Mifune turned down Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader roles". The Guardian. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
- "30 pieces of trivia about Star Wars". bbc.co.uk. BBC. May 23, 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- Guinness 1986, p. 214.
- "Biography: Anthony Daniels". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on November 11, 2006. Retrieved October 3, 2006.
- The Characters of Star Wars. Star Wars Trilogy DVD Box Set: Bonus Materials. 
- Williams, Andrew (October 27, 2009). "Kenny Baker". Metro. DMG Media. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- Lucas, George (writer/director). (2004). DVD commentary for Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. [DVD]. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
- "Peter Mayhew – Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on May 9, 2006. Retrieved October 3, 2006.
- Sansweet, Stephen J.; Hidalgo, Pablo; Vitas, Bob; Wallace, Daniel; Cassidy, Chris; Franklin, Mary; Kushins, Josh (April 26, 2008). The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia. III. Ballantine Books. p. 330. ISBN 9780345477637.
- Westbrook, Caroline (April 17, 2013). "Star Wars actor Richard LeParmentier – aka Admiral Motti – dies aged 66". Metro. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
- Cooper, Gael Fashingbauer (August 26, 2016). "Stormtrooper who bonked head in original Star Wars movie has died". CNET. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
- McGrath, Rachel (August 24, 2016). "Michael Leader Dead: 'EastEnders' Team Pay Tribute Pay Tribute As Actor Who Played Milkman Dies". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
- Clarke, Gerald (May 30, 1977). "Star Wars: The Year's Best Movie". Time. New York City, NY: Time Inc. 109 (22): 57. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- Staff. "A young, enthusiastic crew employs far-out technology to put a rollicking intergalactic fantasy onto the screen". American Cinematographer. American Society of Cinematographers. p. 1. Archived from the original on October 1, 2016. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
- Rinzler 2007, p. 2.
- Windham, Ryder; Wallace, Daniel; Hidalgo, Pablo (2016). Star Wars: Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle (Updated and expanded ed.). New York: DK Publishing, Inc. p. 32. ISBN 9781465452580. OCLC 1003722820.
- Mark Hamill #23 – Rare Interview (20 July 1977) – The 'Good Guys'. June 25, 2014 – via YouTube.
- Macek, J.C., III (February 21, 2013). "Abandoned 'Star Wars' Plot Points Episode II: The Force Behind the Scenes". PopMatters. Archived from the original on September 13, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
- Rinzler, J.W. (2008). The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Reprinted ed.). London: Ebury. p. 5. ISBN 9780091924997.
- Vallely, Jean (June 12, 1980). "The Empire Strikes Back and So Does Filmmaker George Lucas With His Sequel to Star Wars". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC.
- Hearn 2005, pp. 54–55.
- reporter, Mark Caro, Tribune entertainment. "'Star Wars' inadvertently hits too close to U.S.'s role". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
- Beckwith, Ryan Teague. "George Lucas Wrote 'Star Wars' as a Liberal Warning. Then Conservatives Struck Back". Time. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
- Rinzler 2007, p. 8.
- Baxter 1999, p. 142.
- Kaminski 2008, p. 50.
- Smith, Kyle (September 21, 2014). "How 'Star Wars' was secretly George Lucas' Vietnam protest". The New York Post. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
- Kurtz, Gary (November 11, 2002). "An Interview with Gary Kurtz". IGN. p. 3. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
- Kurtz, Gary (November 11, 2002). "An Interview with Gary Kurtz". IGN. p. 1. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
- Pollock 1999, pp. 141–142.
- "The development of Star Wars as Seen Through the Scripts of George Lucas". March 1997. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved May 26, 2008.
- Stephen and Robin Larsen, Joseph Campbell: A Fire in the Mind. 2002, p. 541.
- "Starkiller". starwarz.com. Jedi Bendu. Archived from the original on June 28, 2006. Retrieved March 27, 2008.
- "Star Wars Biography: Ralph McQuarrie". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on August 22, 2006. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
- Bouzereau 1997, p. 7.
- Scanlon, Paul (May 25, 1977). "The Force Behind Star Wars". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Archived from the original on June 19, 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2008.
- Star Wars Definitive Edition laserdisc interview, 1993. "In the process of re-writing [Star Wars], and thinking of it as only a film and not a whole trilogy, I decided that Ben Kenobi really didn't serve any useful function after the point he fights with Darth Vader... I said, 'you know, he just stands around for the last twenty-five percent of the film, watching this air battle go on.'"
- Pearlman, Cindy (May 15, 2005). "The force behind 'The Force'". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group. Archived from the original on May 23, 2005. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
- Metz, Cade. "The 35th Birthday of Star Wars? It Died 15 Years Ago". Wired.com. Condé Nast Publishing. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- Magid, Ron (June–July 2004). "Ralph McQuarrie on designing Star Wars". Star Wars Insider. RalphMcQuarrie.com. Archived from the original on May 10, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
- Staff. "A young, enthusiastic crew employs far-out technology to put a rollicking intergalactic fantasy onto the screen". American Cinematographer. American Society of Cinematographers. p. 2. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
- Singer, Jeremy (May 4, 2014). "The Man Who Literally Build Star Wars". Esquire. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
- The Force Is With Them: The Legacy of Star Wars. Star Wars Original Trilogy DVD Box Set: Bonus Materials, 
- "Star Wars Biography: Industrial Light & Magic". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on August 22, 2006. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
- Brew, Simon (October 22, 2008). "The Den Of Geek interview: Roger Christian". DenOfGeek.com. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
- Williams, David E. (February 2006). "Gilbert Taylor, BSC is given the spotlight with the ASC's International Achievement Award". American Society of Cinematographers. p. 3. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Newbold, Mark (July 24, 2005). "Gil Taylor Interview". Jedi News. Archived from the original on April 11, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
- Pollock 1999, pp. 161–162.
- Clarke, Gerald (May 30, 1977). "Star Wars: The Year's Best Movie". Time. New York City: Time Inc. 109 (22): 58.
- In Director's commentary of the 2004 DVD edition of A New Hope
- Hearn 2005, p. 102.
- Staff (May 25, 2006). "How Star Wars Surprised the World". American Heritage. American Heritage Publishing Company. Retrieved October 2, 2006.
- Williams, David E. (February 2006). "Gilbert Taylor, BSC is given the spotlight with the ASC's International Achievement Award". American Society of Cinematographers. p. 4. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Staff. "A young, enthusiastic crew employs far-out technology to put a rollicking intergalactic fantasy onto the screen". American Cinematographer. American Society of Cinematographers. p. 3. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
- Staff. "A young, enthusiastic crew employs far-out technology to put a rollicking intergalactic fantasy onto the screen". American Cinematographer. American Society of Cinematographers. p. 4. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
- "Star Wars – The Legacy Revealed". The History Channel. May 2007. Archived from the original on May 27, 2007.
- Plesset, Ross (December 11, 2014). "The Death Star Plans ARE in the Main Computer". StarWars.com. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
- McDonald, Mike (December 18, 2012). "Maya apocalypse and Star Wars collide in Guatemalan temple". Reuters. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
- Taylor 2015, p. 116.
- Taraldsvik, Morten Schive. "Star Wars IV: A New Hope: Lost Scenes". A Sci-Fi Movie Lexicon III. Lulu. ISBN 9781445264653. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- Rinzler 2007, p. 255.
- Reynolds, David West (December 1998). "The Evolution of Star Wars: Exploring the Lost Cut". Star Wars Insider (41): 69–75.
- Hearn 2005, p. 106.
- Brooker 2009, p. 18.
- Burtt, Ben (1993), Star Wars Trilogy: The Definitive Collection (Laserdisc), Lucasfilm,
...the microphone passed right behind the picture tube and as it did, this particular microphone produced an unusual hum. It picked up a transmission from the television set and a signal was induced into its sound reproducing mechanism, and that was a great buzz, actually. So I took that buzz and recorded it with the projector motor sound and that fifty-fifty kind of combination of those two sounds became the basic Lightsaber tone.
- "Interview with Benn Burtt". Silicon Valley Radio. Archived from the original on August 11, 2018. Retrieved October 3, 2006.
- Thomas, Roy (June 1, 2007). "Star Wars: The Comic Book That Saved Marvel!". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on March 26, 2010. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "Star Wars – Box Office History". The Numbers. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- Hearn 2005, p. 109.
- Rinzler 2007, p. 256.
- "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Film Scores". afi.com. American Film Institute. 2005. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
- Robey, Tim (May 8, 2014). "10 films that influenced Star Wars". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Campbell, Christopher (March 23, 2010). "'Star Wars,' 'Speed' And Other Movies Inspired By Akira Kurosawa On His 100th Birthday". MTV. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- "Star Wars (1977)". Cineman Syndicate. February 14, 1997.
- Scanlon, Paul. "George Lucas: The Wizard of 'Star Wars'". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
- "Star Wars is Dune". D. A. Houdek. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
- Herbert, Frank (1985). Eye. Byron Preiss Publications. p. 13
- "The Cinema Behind Star Wars: The Dam Busters". starwars.com. December 9, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
- "Summer 2005 Film Music CD Reviews". Film, Music on the Web. Retrieved September 2, 2006.
- Zito, Stephen (April 1977). "George Lucas Goes Far Out". American Film.
- Martin Belam (February 18, 2009). "How accurate was Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" about the future?". Retrieved December 10, 2011.
- Young, Bryan. "The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Metropolis". Star Wars. Lucasfilm. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
- Taylor 2015, Chapter 11.
- "Star Wars (1977)". Art of the Title. Archived from the original on April 2, 2016. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- Sansweet, Stephen J.; Vilmur, Peter (2005). The Star Wars poster book. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 9780811848831.
- "Evolution of the Star Wars Poster". PhotoSecrets.com. Archived from the original on July 28, 2017. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
- Dass, William (December 14, 2016). "The History of Star Wars Posters". Film School Rejects. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
- "A short history of the first British Star Wars posters". www.sci-fimovieposters.co.uk. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
- Boucher, Geoff (August 12, 2010). "Did Star Wars become a toy story? Producer Gary Kurtz looks back". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
- Coate, Michael (September 21, 2004). "May 25, 1977: A Day Long Remembered". The Screening Room. Retrieved May 11, 2007.
- "How Steven Spielberg Made Millions Off 'Star Wars' After A 1977 Bet With George Lucas". Business Insider. Archived from the original on January 31, 2018. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
- Pamela McClintock (December 9, 2015). "'Star Wars' Flashback: When No Theater Wanted to Show the Movie in 1977". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
- Biskind, Peter (1998). "Star Bucks". Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 336–337, 343. ISBN 0-684-80996-6.
- "Star Wars (1977) – Weekly Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
- Zoldessy, Michael (May 25, 2012). "Celebrating the Original STAR WARS on its 35th Anniversary". CinemaTreasures.org. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- Staff. "MoviePosterCollectors.com Authentication Star Wars Birthday Cake/First Anniversary One Sheet Movie Poster". MoviePosterCollectors.com. Archived from the original on May 12, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Newbold, Mark. "Star Wars in the UK: 1977, the First Star Wars Christmas". StarWars.com. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
- "Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope – Box Office Data, DVD and Blu-ray Sales, Movie News, Cast and Crew Information". The Numbers. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
- "Translated Into Navajo, 'Star Wars' Will Be". NPR.org.
- "Alumna, four others dub Star Wars film into Navajo language - ASU News - The State Press - Arizona State University". October 4, 2013. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013.
- Fernandez, Jay; Masters, Kim (September 28, 2010). "'Star Wars' saga set for 3D release starting 2012". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
- Hidalgo, Pablo [@pablohidalgo] (February 15, 2019). "(And just to preemptively 'well, actually' myself, 'Episode IV: A New Hope' was made public by publishing it in the screenplay in 1979's Art of Star Wars book. But it wasn't added to the crawl until 1981)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Titelman, Carol; Hoffman, Valerie, eds. (1979). The Art of Star wars (1st ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 9780345282736.
- "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope". Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on February 15, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- "Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope - Opening Crawl - Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope". Archived from the original on August 24, 2018. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
- Saporito, Jeff (November 11, 2015). "Why was "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" originally released under another title". ScreenPrism. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
- Clark, Mark (2015). Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9781495046087. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
- Britt, Ryan (April 11, 2018). "When Did 'Star Wars' Become 'A New Hope?' 37 Years Ago, Everything Changed". Inverse. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
- Craig Miller, ed. (1980). "Interview: George Lucas" (PDF). Bantha Tracks. Universal City, CA: Lucasfilm, Ltd. (8).
- Taylor, Chris (September 27, 2014). "'Star Wars' Producer Blasts 'Star Wars' Myths". Mashable.com. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
- Taylor 2015, Chapter 11.
- Rinzler, J.W. (2008). The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (Reprinted ed.). London: Ebury. p. 400. ISBN 9780091924997.
- Bouzereau, Laurent (1997). Star Wars: the Annotated Screenplays (1st ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 3. ISBN 9780345409812.
- Kwinn, Ann (July 4, 1996). "Special Effects: Anything Can Happen". Boxoffice. Boxoffice Media. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "Star Wars: The Changes". DVDActive.com. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
- Sagers, Aaron, "An unbelievable day in the life of Jack Bauer", The Morning Call, February 15, 2006
- "Restoring Star Wars". ABC News. December 13, 2015. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
- Eveleth, Rose (August 27, 2014). "The Star Wars George Lucas Doesn't Want You To See". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
- "Exclusive T-shirts to Commemorate DVD Release". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on September 2, 2006. Retrieved August 14, 2006.
- "More Changes to STAR WARS Include Blinking Ewoks and Different Cut of Greedo Shooting First". collider.com. September 1, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
- "Han Shoots First". Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- "Saving the Star Wars Saga – page 1". American Society of Cinematographers. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
- "Complete National Film Registry Listing - Film Registry - National Film Preservation Board - Programs at the Library of Congress". loc.gov. Library of Congress. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
- Andrews, Mallory (July 21, 2014). "A 'New' New Hope: Film Preservation and the Problem with 'Star Wars'". soundonsight.org. Sound on Sight. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
the NFR does not possess workable copies of the original versions…Government-mandated agencies such as the National Film Registry are unable to preserve (or even possess) working copies of the films on their list without the consent of the author and/or copyright holder.
- Ulanoff, Lance (December 17, 2015). "The search for the 'Star Wars' George Lucas doesn't want you to see". Mashable. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
- "Video and Film - Super 8". Star Wars Collectors Archive. 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
- Star wars. WorldCat. OCLC 13842348.
- Doug Smith (May 9, 2011). "Yesterday's technology can be a collectible". Quad-City Times. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
- Star wars. / Episode IV, A new hope. WorldCat. OCLC 8896917.
- "Star Wars Trilogy, VHS, CBS/Fox Video, USA 1990". SWOnVideo.com. Star Wars on Video. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
- "Star Wars Trilogy, Widescreen, VHS, 20th Century Fox Video USA, 1992". SWOnVideo.com. Star Wars on Video. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
- Jedi1 (April 4, 2013). "The Original Star Wars Trilogy – One Last Time". TheStarWarsTrilogy.com. The Star Wars Trilogy: A Digital Star Wars Scrapbook. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
- "Star Wars Trilogy". IGN. September 9, 2004. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
- "Star Wars Due Again on DVD". IGN. September 28, 2005. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
- "Star Wars Saga Repacked in Trilogy Sets on DVD". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. August 8, 2008. Archived from the original on October 26, 2008. Retrieved November 8, 2008.
- Dawe, Ian. "Anamorphic Star Wars and Other Musings". Mindjack Film. Retrieved May 26, 2006.
- "Pre-order Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray Now!". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. January 6, 2011. Archived from the original on February 28, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
- Utichi, Joe (September 15, 2011). "Star Wars on Blu-ray: what surprises does LucasFilm have in store?". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved July 22, 2012.
- "Bring the Complete Collection Home: Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-Ray". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. May 4, 2011. Archived from the original on May 7, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- Phillips, Casey (September 16, 2011). "Star Wars fans react with mixed feelings to changes in new Blu-ray release". Chattanooga Times Free Press. WEHCO Media. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "The Walt Disney Company FY 2013 SEC Form 10-K Filing" (PDF). The Walt Disney Company. November 20, 2013. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 11, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
Prior to the Company’s acquisition, Lucasfilm produced six Star Wars films (Episodes 1 through 6). Lucasfilm retained the rights to consumer products related to all of the films and the rights related to television and electronic distribution formats for all of the films, with the exception of the rights for Episode 4, which are owned by a third-party studio. All of the films are distributed by a third-party studio in the theatrical and home video markets. The theatrical and home video distribution rights for these films revert to Lucasfilm in May 2020 with the exception of Episode 4, for which these distribution rights are retained in perpetuity by the third-party studio.
- Vlessing, Etan (April 6, 2015). "'Star Wars' Movie Franchise Headed to Digital HD". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
- Hayes, Dade (April 11, 2019). "Entire 'Star Wars' Franchise Will Be On Disney+ Within Its First Year". Deadline. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- Jenkins, David. "Gareth Edwards: The Last Detail". Little White Lies. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
- "Star Wars' B.O. Hits Wow $2.5 Mil". Variety. June 1, 1977. p. 1.
- Los Angeles (AP) (December 1, 1972). "'Star Wars' the new box office champ". The Modesto Bee. The McClatchy Company. p. C-12.
- Hollywood (AP) (September 7, 1978). "Grease lead summer films as top box-office draw". The StarPhoenix. Postmedia Network Inc. p. 10.
- New York (AP) (May 26, 1978). "Scariness of Jaws 2 unknown quantity". The StarPhoenix. Postmedia Network Inc. p. 21.
- Harmetz, Aljean (May 18, 1980). "The Saga Beyond 'Star Wars'". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
- Murphy, A.D. (July 21, 1978). "'Star Wars' Proves There's Plenty of Life in Deluxers". Daily Variety. p. 1
- "'Wars' Domestic Weekend B.O. Hits $10.2 Mil For New Record". Daily Variety. July 26, 1978.
- "Weekend Records Through the Years". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
- "'Star Wars' B.O. History". Variety. May 17, 1999. p. 30.
- Los Angeles (AP) (February 15, 1997). "'Star Wars' takes box office lead over 'E.T.'". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Morris Communications. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- Wuntch, Philip (July 19, 1985). "Return of E.T." The Dallas Morning News. A. H. Belo Corporation. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- Dirks, Tim. "Top Films of All-Time: Part 1 – Box-Office Blockbusters". Filmsite.org. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Dirks, Tim. "Greatest Movie Series Franchises of All Time: The Star Wars Trilogy – Part IV". Filmsite.org. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Lasalle, Mick (March 16, 1998). "Titanic Makes Movie History – It's now the biggest moneymaker ever". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Staff (July 11, 2011). "Pottering on, and on – Highest-grossing film in franchise". The Economist. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
- Glenday, Craig, ed. (2011). Гиннесс. Мировые рекорды 2012 [Guinness World Records 2012] (in Russian). Translated by Andrianov, P.I.; Palova, I.V. Moscow: Astrel. p. 211. ISBN 978-5-271-36423-5.
- "All Time Box Office: Domestic Grosses – Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 18, 2007.
- Ebert, Roger (1977). "Star Wars". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved September 6, 2006.
- Canby, Vincent (May 26, 1977). "Star Wars – A Trip to a Far Galaxy That's Fun and Funny..." The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved October 4, 2006.
- Murphy, A.D. (May 24, 1977). "Star Wars". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
- Arnold, Gary (May 25, 1977). "'Star Wars': A Spectacular Intergalactic Joyride". The Washington Post. Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Kael, Pauline (September 26, 1977). "Contrasts". The New Yorker. Advance Publications. Archived from the original on December 17, 2006. Retrieved September 7, 2006.
- Simon, John (June 20, 1977). "Looking Back at New York's Critical 1977 Review of Star Wars". New York. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
- Kauffmann, Stanley (June 18, 1977). "Innocences". The New Republic. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
- Malcolm, Derek (December 27, 1977). "Lucas in the sky with diamonds". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
- Berry, Adrian (December 16, 1977). "Star Wars: the Telegraph's original 1977 review". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)". Metacritic. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
- Wilmington, Michael (January 31, 1997). "Back In Force". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Staff (January 31, 1997). "Star Wars returns". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Ford, Matt. "Star Wars (1977)". BBC. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Pamela McClintock (August 19, 2011). "Why CinemaScore Matters for Box Office". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
- Siskel, Gene (October 15, 1999). "The Movie Reviews". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Collins, Andrew. "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)". Empire. Bauer Media Group. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Hatch, Robert (January 25, 2009). "Star Wars". The Nation. The Nation Company. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1997). "Excessive Use of the Force". Chicago Reader. Wrapports. Archived from the original on July 4, 2006. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
- Keough, Peter (1997). "Star Wars remerchandises its own myth". Boston Phoenix. Phoenix Media/Communications Group. Archived from the original on November 7, 2006. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
- "The 50th Academy Awards (1978) Nominees and Winners". Academy Awards. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
- "John Dykstra".
- "35th Golden Globes Awards (1978) – Movies from 1977". FilmAffinity. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- "Film in 1979". British Academy Film Awards. British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- "Past Winner Search". Grammy Award. National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- "1978 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. Archived from the original on May 7, 2011. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
- "Past Awards". Saturn Award. Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Archived from the original on April 9, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- For a sampling of the reviews, read the following:
- "The 33 Greatest Movie Trilogies | 2. The Original Star Wars Trilogy". Empire. Bauer Media Group. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Gibron, Bill (September 21, 2011). "The 10 Greatest Motion Picture Trilogies of All Time". PopMatters. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Griffin, Michael (September 11, 2013). "Good Things Come In Threes: Great Movie Trilogies". Hollywood.com. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Ellwood, Gregory; Eggersten, Chris; Fienberg, Dan; McWeeny, Drew; Lewis, Dave (April 25, 2013). "10 of the best movie trilogies of all-time | 1. Star Wars Episodes IV – VI". HitFix. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "George Lucas: Mapping the mythology". CNN. May 8, 2002. Archived from the original on September 9, 2009. Retrieved May 26, 2008.
- "Thank the Maker: George Lucas". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. April 19, 2005. Archived from the original on November 12, 2006. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
- Worrell, Denise. Icons: Intimate Portraits. p. 185.
- "George Lucas' Galactic Empire – Get ready for Star Wars II, III, IV, V ..." Time. Time Inc. March 6, 1978. Retrieved September 25, 2010.
- "Ford: Star Wars boosted my career". Daily Mirror. Trinity Mirror. May 20, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "Star Wars – Box Office History". The Numbers. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
- "Movie Franchises". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
- "Star Wars on TV". TV Party. Retrieved September 2, 2006.
- DiGiacomo, Frank. "The Han Solo Comedy Hour!". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
- John, Derek. "That Time NPR Turned 'Star Wars' Into A Radio Drama – And It Actually Worked". NPR.org. All Things Considered, National Public Radio. Archived from the original on June 20, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- "Star Wars Canon". Canon Wars. Retrieved February 22, 2007.
- Eberl, Jason T.; Decker, Kevin S. (2015). The Ultimate Star Wars and Philosophy: You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned. John Wiley & Sons. p. 298. ISBN 9781119038061. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
- McMillan, Graeme (April 7, 2016). "'Rogue One' and the Death Star Plans: Revisiting the 1981 Origin Story". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
- "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)". Filmsite.org. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
- Wineke, Andrew (May 20, 2005). "Beloved sci-fi fairy tale has spawned a slew of Star Wars parodies, spinoffs". The Gazette. Clarity Media Group. Archived from the original on June 29, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014. – via HighBeam (subscription required)
- Brinn, David (December 20, 2013). "The right place at the right time". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on June 29, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014. – via HighBeam (subscription required)
- Vaughan, John; Lucas, George (July 16, 1999). "July 16, 1999 Episode". The Big Breakfast. Channel 4.
- DeCaro, Frank (December 24, 2008). "A Space Garbage Man and His Eclectic Crew". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Hall, Phil (August 26, 2005). "The Bootleg Files: The Donny & Marie Show – The Star Wars Episode". Film Threat. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "Spaceballs". Metacritic. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
- Carone, Patrick (February 6, 2013). "Interview: Icon Mel Brooks". Maxim. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
- Collins, Scott (December 27, 2009). "Q & A with Seth MacFarlane". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Snider, Mike (June 13, 2007). "Robot Chicken digs its satirical talons into Star Wars". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Chernoff, Scott (July 24, 2007). "I Bent My Wookiee! Celebrating the Star Wars/Simpsons Connection". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- "Star Wars – When the fans hit the Sith". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. July 9, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Borland, Sophie (January 21, 2008). "Lightsabre wins the battle of movie weapons". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "The Best Sci-Fi Characters of All Time: the verdict". British Film Institute.
- Caro, Mark (May 8, 2005). "The power of the dark side". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "May the 4th". Starwars.com. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
- "Two Legendary Forces Unite to Honor 30th Anniversary of Star Wars". usps.com. United States Postal Service. March 2007. Archived from the original on March 29, 2007. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Ebert, Roger (June 28, 1999). "Great Movies: Star Wars". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
- Shone, Tom (2004). Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer. London: Simon & Schuster. p. 64. ISBN 0-7432-6838-5.
- Hopkins, Jessica (February 27, 2011). "The film that changed my life: Gareth Edwards". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Pond, Steve (February 21, 2014). "Why Disney Fired John Lasseter – And How He Came Back to Heal the Studio". TheWrap. The Wrap News Inc. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- "Christopher Nolan's Star Wars Inspiration". ContactMusic.com. July 16, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
- Greydanus, Steven D. "An American Mythology: Why Star Wars Still Matters". Decent Films Guide. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
- Corliss, Richard (May 25, 2012). "Star Wars Turns 35: How TIME Covered the Film Phenomenon". Time. Time Inc. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies". afi.com. American Film Institute. 1998. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
- "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills". afi.com. American Film Institute. 2001. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
- "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes & Villains". afi.com. American Film Institute. 2003. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
- "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes". afi.com. American Film Institute. 2004. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
- "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers". afi.com. American Film Institute. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
- "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)". afi.com. American Film Institute. 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2010.
- "AFI's 10 Top 10: Top 10 Sci-Fi". afi.com. American Film Institute. 2008. Retrieved October 23, 2010.
- "AFI's 100 Years...The Complete Lists". afi.com. American Film Institute. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Staff (February 21, 2008). "Frankly My Dear, The Force is With Them as Gone With the Wind and Star Wars are the Top Two All Time Favorite Movies" (PDF). harrisinteractive.com. Rochester, NY: Harris Interactive. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 14, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- "Greatest American Films – Daily News". Filmsite.org. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- "100 Greatest Films". Channel 4. Archived from the original on April 17, 2006. Retrieved September 1, 2006.
- THR Staff (June 25, 2014). "Hollywood's 100 Favorite Films". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- "Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of all Time | 100 – 1". Empire. Bauer Media Group. 2008. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Schickel, Richard. "ALL-TIME 100 Movies: Star Wars". Time. Time Inc. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- M. Nichols, Peter (February 21, 2004). The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made (revised ed.). St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0312326111.
- "The Greatest Film Poll: Star Wars". British Film Institute. 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- "101 Greatest Screenplays: The List". Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on September 1, 2006. Retrieved September 2, 2006.
- "The National Recording Registry 2004". loc.gov. Library of Congress. 2004. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- Hosie, Ewen (November 17, 2015). "'Star Wars: Despecialized Edition' Restores the Original, Unedited Trilogy". Vice. New York City. ISSN 1077-6788. OCLC 30856250. Archived from the original on November 18, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
- West, Jay (January 10, 2012). "Star Wars flashback: Christmas '77 left fans with empty feeling". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- Staff (November 15, 2012). "Star Wars action figures, dominoes enter Toy Hall of Fame". cbsnews.com. CBS. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- Wenz, John (January 1, 2018). "The First Star Wars sequel: Inside the writing of Splinter of the Mind's Eye". Syfy. SyFy Channel. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
- Thomas, Michael (October 6, 2000). "Jim Shooter Interview: Part 1". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "The Star Wars #1 (Nick Runge Cover)". Dark Horse Comics. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- Vilmur, Pete (September 11, 2008). "The Flight and Fall of Black Falcon". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. Archived from the original on September 12, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- Wells, Stuart W. (January 2002). A Universe of Star Wars Collectibles: Identification and Price Guide. Krause Publications. p. 239. ISBN 0873494156. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
- Baxter, John (1999). Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas (1st ed.). New York: William Morrow. ISBN 978-0-380-97833-5.
- Bouzereau, Laurent (1997). Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays. New York: Del Rey. ISBN 0-345-40981-7.
- Brooker, Will (2009). BFI Film Classics: Star Wars. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1844575541.
- Guinness, Alec (1986). Blessings in Disguise. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0394552377.
- Hearn, Marcus (2005). The Cinema of George Lucas. New York: Abrahams Books. ISBN 0-8109-4968-7.
- Kaminski, Michael (2008) . The Secret History of Star Wars: The Art of Storytelling and the Making of a Modern Epic. Kingston, Ont.: Legacy Books Press. ISBN 978-0-9784652-3-0.
- Pollock, Dale (1999). Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80904-4.
- Rinzler, J. W. (2007). The Making of Star Wars. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-49476-4.
- Taylor, Chris (2015) . How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise. Basic Books. ISBN 978-046509751-7.
- Westfahl, Gary (January 30, 2000). Space and Beyond: The Frontier Theme in Science Fiction. California: Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313308468.
- J. W. Rinzler (2007). The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film, Quarto Publishing, ISBN 978-1781311905
- Bailey, T. J. (2005). Devising a Dream: A Book of Star Wars Facts and Production Timeline. Louisville, KY: Wasteland Press. ISBN 1-933265-55-8.
- Blackman, W. Haden (2004). The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology, Revised Edition (Star Wars). New York: Del Rey. ISBN 0-345-44903-7.
- Steven A. Galipeau (2001). The Journey of Luke Skywalker: An Analysis of Modern Myth and Symbol, Open Court, ISBN 978-0812694321
- Sansweet, Stephen (1992). Star Wars: From Concept to Screen to Collectible. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-0101-2.
|Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Star Wars|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Star Wars|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Star Wars (film)|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to:|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.|
- Star[permanent dead link] Wars at StarWars.com
- Star[permanent dead link] Wars at Lucasfilm.com
- Star Wars at AllMovie
- Star Wars at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Star Wars at Box Office Mojo
- Star Wars at Filmsite.org
- Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope on IMDb
- Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope at Metacritic
- Star Wars at The Numbers
- Star Wars at Rotten Tomatoes
- Star Wars at the TCM Movie Database