May the Force be With You: Celebrating Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary

As the world eagerly anticipates the release of The Last Jedi, A New Hope approaches its 40th anniversary.


40 years ago, on May 25, 1977, George Lucas released “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”, the first installment of what was to be a legendary saga.  Although it did not initially gain a widespread release, opening to a mere 32 theaters nationwide, it earned more than a million dollars on its opening weekend, which led to sci-fi becoming mainstream.

 Not only did it help bring a niche genre to prominence, but it also invented many special effects, including “extremely detailed miniatures, animation and a pioneering system of computer-controlled motion photography to create special effects (SFX) that still look fresh today,” according to The New Economy.  Later, with the release of the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition, computer-generated images (CGI), shown in several new and altered segments, were added to each of the three films.  Among these new scenes was a meeting between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt in A New Hope.  The CGI innovations continued with the release of the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars.  These movies assisted in starting an era of CGI in motion pictures.

In addition, it helped introduce the concept of a merchandise-driven film, which led to billions of dollars in toy sales and other merchandise all over the world. Furthermore, Star Wars (along with Star Trek) helped establish the idea of an “expanded universe”, a body of work which develops concepts not seen in a franchise’s main media before.  Books, comics and video games have introduced new characters such as the blue-skinned Grand Admiral Thrawn and Luke Skywalker’s wife, Mara Jade.  These characters, depicted in several action figures, have sent avid collectors to spend large amounts of time and money just to add them to their collection.

The Star Wars series has helped bring fame to many actors.  Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Natalie Portman and Mark Hamill are all household names.  The sheer popularity of the franchise has also led to thousands of fans to pay tribute to it in offbeat and unconventional ways.  These include the R2 Builders club, the 501st Legion, and the founding of the Jedi Church.  

With the upcoming release of Episode VIII, the franchise looks to be in good health as it continues its quest for world domination.   A long, long time ago, nobody thought the ideas of Star Wars would even work, but Lucasfilm has proven them wrong time and time again.  As eager fans anticipate the release of each new installment, the franchise continues to grow in prominence and will do so for the generations to come.  May the Force be with you.

Street Talk

“My earliest Star Wars memory was in 2005 when Episode III came out and originally I wasn’t allowed to watch it, but then my parents saw it when it first came out so I watched it in theaters the day after it came out, got it on DVD and memorized the movie. I got one of those Jedi interceptors (I think it was the t-63) and it was rad!” – Senior Jake Henderson

“My Dad also got me into Star Wars.  I got Episode IV on VHS when I was 7 years old.  It was an older version.  From the first time I saw it, I was completely in love.  I had so many questions when I first saw it.  I asked my Dad tons of questions.”-Julia Desper, Instructional Assistant

“My Dad was a fan and that’s how I started.  I asked him questions.”-Aaron Ortiz, Sophomore