Star Wars is a space opera franchise launched in 1977 with the Star Wars film, later known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. While set “long, long ago, in a galaxy far away”, many of the exteriors are real-world places, to some extent open to visitors.
Star Wars is an American epic space-opera media franchise created by George Lucas. The franchise began with the eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide pop-culture phenomenon.
The film series expanded into other media, including television series, video games, novels, comic books, theme park attractions and themed areas, as well as other kinds of media, resulting in an all encompassing fictional universe, which, in 2014, required an almost total reboot, resulting in the formation of the distinct Star Wars Legends continuity of (fictional) events, now obsolete, which includes media preceding the reboot and a few later releases. Star Wars holds a Guinness World Records title for the “Most successful film merchandising franchise”. In 2018, the total value of the Star Wars franchise was estimated at US$65 billion, and it is currently the fifth-highest-grossing media franchise of all-time.
The core of the Star Wars franchise is the triple film trilogy; The original trilogy (episodes IV-VI, released 1977-1983), the prequel trilogy (I-III, released 1999-2005), and the sequel trilogy (VII-IX, released 2015-19).
The prequels depict Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker’s forbidden love story with Queen Padmé, and his transformation to evil Sith lord Darth Vader, parallel to the Galactic Republic’s corruption and transformation to the Galactic Empire.
An intermediate film, Rogue One, tells the story of how the rebels stole the plans for the Empire’s deadly new weapon, the Death Star.
The original trilogy depicts young Luke Skywalker’s journey to become a Jedi knight, leading the Rebel Alliance’s struggle against the Galactic Empire.
The sequel trilogy is showing the continuing struggle between the Rebels and the successor of the defeated Empire, the First Order.
Within the fan community, the films are usually referred to by their Roman number; e.g. “I” for Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Spin-off works have their own notation, such as R1 for Star Wars: Rogue One.
The franchise also includes several spin-off films, novels, video games, action figures and other material.
The Star Wars saga has had a significant impact on popular culture, with references to its fictional universe deeply embedded in everyday life. Phrases like “evil empire” and “May the Force be with you” have become part of the popular lexicon. The first Star Wars film in 1977 was a cultural unifier, enjoyed by a wide spectrum of people. The film can be said to have helped launch the science fiction boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s, making science fiction films a blockbuster genre and mainstream. The widespread impact made it a prime target for parody works and homages, with popular examples including Hardware Wars, Spaceballs, The Family Guy Trilogy, Robot Chicken: Star Wars, and its sequels Star Wars – Episode II and Episode III.
Many efforts produced in the science fiction genre (particularly in film) can now be seen to draw heavy influence and inspiration from the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as the magnitude of sequels, spin-offs, series, games, and texts that it spawned. Sounds, visuals, and even the iconic score of the films have become integral components in American society. The film helped launch the science fiction boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s, making science fiction films a blockbuster genre. This impact also made it a prime target for parody works and homages, with popular examples including Spaceballs, Family Guy’s “Blue Harvest” special, Seth Green’s “Robot Chicken: Star Wars”, and Lucas’s self-proclaimed favorite parody, Hardware Wars by Ernie Fosselius.
In 1989, the Library of Congress selected the original Star Wars film for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry, as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The Empire Strikes Back, was selected in 2010. 35mm reels of the 1997 Specialions were the versions 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 releases.
Financial impact on Fox
20th Century Fox optioned Star Wars. When it unexpectedly became the decade’s blockbuster, grossing $100 million in three months, Fox’s stock soared from $6 to $25 per share and generated revenues of $1.2 million a day for the studio. Fox purchased the Aspen skiing and Pebble Beach golf corporations with the increased cash flow and still declared excess profits in 1977. Income from Star Wars re-releases, sequels, and merchandising enriched the studio in the following decades. Star Wars helped Fox to change from an almost bankrupt production company to a thriving media conglomerate.
Impact on filmmaking
Star Wars fundamentally changed the aesthetics and narratives of Hollywood films, switching the focus of Hollywood-made films from deep, meaningful stories based on dramatic conflict, themes and irony to sprawling special-effects-laden blockbusters, as well as changing the Hollywood film industry in fundamental ways. Before Star Wars, special effects in films had not appreciably advanced since the 1950s. Star Wars was also important in the movement towards the use of computer-generated imagery in films. The commercial success of Star Wars created a boom in state-of-the-art special effects in the late 1970s. There was increased investment in special effects. Companies like Industrial Light & Magic and Digital Productions were created to provide them. The 1977 Star Wars pioneered the genre pastiche, where several classic film genres are combined in one film. In Star Wars, the genres were science fiction, the Western, the war film, and the quasi-mystical epic. Along with Jaws, Star Wars started the tradition of the summer blockbuster film in the entertainment industry, where films open on many screens at the same time and profitable franchises are important. It created the model for the major film trilogy and showed that merchandising rights on a film could generate more money than the film itself.
The holographic video effect associated with Star Wars served as a technological tool for CNN during its 2008 Election Night coverage. CNN reporter Jessica Yellin and musician will.i.am looked as though they were in the network’s New York City studios talking face-to-face with hosts Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer, when in reality, they were in Chicago at Barack Obama’s rally. The process involved Yellin and will.i.am standing in front of a blue screen in a special tent, while being shot by 35 HD cameras.
Another impact Star Wars made on film making was its use of the “Monomyth” or “The Heroes Journey” found in Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. While George Lucas wrote through 4 drafts of the film, between the first and second drafts, he read Joseph Campbell’s book titled The Hero with a Thousand Faces. He was surprised to find that his first draft followed many of its principles. This epic structure at the deepest roots of the films was a major factor in its success. Many future films successfully adopted the monomyth, such as The Matrix trilogy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Hobbit trilogy to name a few.
Impact on aeronautics
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum had an exhibition called “Star Wars: The Magic of Myth”. It was an exhibition of original production models, props, costumes, and characters from the first three Star Wars films. In October 2007, NASA launched a Space Shuttle carrying an original lightsaber into orbit. The prop handle had been used as Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber in Return of the Jedi. After spending two weeks in orbit, it was brought back to Earth on November 7, 2007, to be returned to its owner, George Lucas.
The first successfully launched space-rocket, to be sent by the private spaceflight company SpaceX, was named the Falcon 1. Elon Musk used the word “falcon” within the name of the space-rocket, as a reference to the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. The Falcon 1’s success led to the fabrication of updated versions of the space rocket, in what became known as the Falcon family of space-rockets. The Falcon 1 has since been retired, in favor of the Falcon 9.
Between 2002 and 2004, museums in Japan, Singapore, Scotland and England showcased the Art of Star Wars, an exhibit describing the process of making the original Star Wars trilogy.
In 2013, Star Wars became the first major motion picture translated into the Navajo language.
Several organizations worldwide now teach lightsaber combat as a competitive sport, instructing on techniques interpreted from the films, and using life-size replica weapons composed of highly durable plastic that emit lights and sounds.
Star Wars has been the subject of several parodies in the humorous magazine Mad, a publication that frequently publishes cartoon spoofs of Hollywood films. A parody called Star Roars was published in January 1978, featuring the magazine’s mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, wearing a Darth Vader helmet.
In December 1978, an onstage Star Wars parody appeared in the form of a Broadway musical, The Force and I—the Mad Star Wars Musical.
The Star Wars prequels have generated a notably large interest in memes on Reddit.
In the 2004 Honorverse novel The Shadow of Saganami, Talbot Sector Governor Estelle Matsuko, Baroness Medusa, states that she does not want the Manticoran Marines to start looking like Imperial stormtroopers to the local systems.
Darth Vader appears in the 2016 game Clash Royale as the Dark Prince troop.
The plot of a second-season episode of the CW television series Legends of Tomorrow (2017), entitled “Raiders of the Lost Art”, centered on the impact of George Lucas’s films on the titular heroes.
Caserta (Italy). A stand-in for the Naboo Palace in I and II.
Villa del Balbianello, Via Comoedia 5, Lenno (Tremezzo, Italy). The wedding scene in II takes place here.
Canary Wharf (London, England). The tube station was used in Rogue One as the Imperial security complex on Scarif.
Laamu Atoll (Maldives). The tropical setting of the Scarif planet in Rogue One.
Episode IV – A New Hope
Matmata (Tunisia). Scenes of the desert planet Tatooine in a number of Star Wars films were filmed here. Also see the nearby town of Tataouine, where a little filming was also done.
Death Valley National Park (California, United States). Some Tatooine scenes in IV.
Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Hardangerjøkulen (Hardanger Glacier), Finse/Hardangervidda (Norway). 24 h. One the large glaciers in Norway. Hiking the glacier is only for experts; do not attempt a hike on your own. The Battle of Hoth (V) was filmed here. Free.
Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi
Redwood National Park. The Battle of Endor (VI) was filmed here.
Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Skellig Michael (Ireland). Luke Skywalker’s exile home in VII and VIII.