The Beginning of a Movie Empire-It’s Finally Here- Dec 18th
Coming to a theater near you on December 18th is the latest Star Wars movie, Episode VII- The Force Awakens. There has been a lot of excitement building for the release of this movie, as it’s been awhile since the last Star Wars movie, Episode III- Revenge of the Sith, was released ten years ago in 2005.
Before George Lucas even began writing about Star Wars, the idea of it had been percolating for years. After the success of his movie, American Graffiti, he began writing the story for Star Wars and completed filming it in 1977. Lucas had no idea if anyone was going to like it. In fact, it was only after he watched Walter Kronkite feature a huge story about the movie, and saw the lines around the block from fans waiting to watch the movie, that he finally “understood that it was a big hit.”
Star Wars Financial Success
To get an idea of how financially successful the Star Wars movies have been, we’ve listed the worldwide gross amounts earned for all the released Star Wars movies (adjusted for inflation and rounded up). We’ve also ranked the movies based on their episode numbers, starting with the most recent movie, the soon to be released Episode VII The Force Awakens. If you’re interested in a more thorough explanation about out how to watch the movies in the “right” order, check out this link.
Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens (2015)- TBD
Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi (1983)- $1 Billion
Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (1980)- $1 Billion
Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (1977)- $3 Billion
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005)- $1 Billion
Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002) $900 Million
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menance (1999)- $1 Billion
Kids Love Star Wars
For Star Wars fans who want to show their love for the series, there are some pretty cool things out there, especially for kids. One item that is getting a lot of attention is the Star Wars Fleece Blanket. This warm, fleece blanket with images of Darth Vader, R2-D2, Yoda and a Storm Trooper is popular for sleepovers as well as good for Star Wars tent building.If you know a Star Wars fan that you enjoys being creative, then check out this Star Wars Art Studio Set. It has everything a young budding artist could use and enough new things to keep other kids interested as well.
We even found some Star Wars coloring pages here that you can use with the Star Wars Art Studio Set above.
Star Wars Popularity has Endured Through the Years
How has the popularity of Star Wars continued to grow steadily for nearly four decades? It’s a phenomenon that is hard to explain. Sure you’ll see plenty of kids playing with light sabers and mimicking the epic battles between characters like Princess Leah, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker, but the fascination with Star Wars is not limited to kids and perhaps that is the secret to its longevity. There are quite a few (actually, a lot) of adults that are as immersed into the Star Wars fandom and culture as they were when they were kids. As a result, there are plenty of mothers and fathers who have passed on their love of the movie down to their own children and grandparents ready to share the series with grandchildren.
You have probably seen other movies with sequels that didn’t have the staying power of Star Wars. A part Star Wars’ popularity is due to its ability to withstand the ups and downs of a fan’s interest over the years.
The Star Wars franchise has been fortunate enough to have a portion of their fan base that started when they were children.
As they grew into adults, whether they continued to stay a fan of the movie or they moved on to other interests, they could always come back to being a fan again and be part of the ongoing Star Wars culture.
It has also maintained its popularity because of the profound experience that people felt when they saw their first Star Wars movie. Many fans, can still remember what they did when waiting in line to see the movie or what their first memories were when they first watched the movie.
Sam Rockwell, actor, recalled sleeping on his dad’s foot in line, waiting for the movie to open as there was a line of people around the block. When he I saw it, “it blew the top of my head off. I wanted to be Han Solo.” Ridley Scott, director of many blockbuster movies, remembered “I’ve never known audience participation like it, absolutely rocking.”
The span of the Star Wars movies has reached people from around the world. In fact, it has been translated into 50 languages. Listen to a clip here of the line, “Luke I am your father” in 20 different languages, which interestingly enough, is not the actual line in the movie (it is, “No, I am your father”). A good example of a movie that is considered part of pop culture is when people who have never seen a movie before, can quote lines from a movie. For instance, who doesn’t know what movie this famous line is from, ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.’
Infographic: The Influence of Star Wars on Film & TV
You don’t have to be a diehard fan to appreciate how successful Star Wars has been. When the first movie came out, it tackled a lot of firsts, such as being one of the first movies to use visual effects in a way in which they had never been done before. As late night host, Stephen Colbert recalled from viewing the first Star Wars movie, “As soon as [the trumpet kick] came on and Star Wars appeared, we knew everything was different.”
16 Other Fun Facts about Star Wars
- Less than 40 theaters agreed to show Episode IV Star Wars: The New Hope when it was initially released. That’s hard to believe a billion dollar movie franchise would have had such humble beginnings, but it did.
- Did you know that Chewbacca’s voice is a combination of a bear, lion, walrus and badger sounds and Darth Vader’s breathing was recorded from a microphone inside a regulator on a scuba tank?
- George Lucas put up his own money to fund the second Star Wars Movie, The Empire Strikes Back, which was unheard of at the time. This gave him complete creative control, while still having the benefit of a movie studio distributing the movie.
- Yoda originally had a first name (who knew)? In the first drafts of the screenplay, Yoda was named “Buffy.” It was then changed to “Minch Yoda” and then shortened to just Yoda.
- The asteroids in the asteroid belt that the Millenium Falcon flew through were potatoes spray painted brown. The special effects animators filmed them in front of a bluescreen so it could be added later in post-production.
- Alec Guinness who played Obi-Wan, did not want to be a part of the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. The producers convinced him to appear as a ghostly version of his character, but he insisted on the following conditions: he would only work for one day between 8:30am- 1pm. He was able to negotiate two percent of gross box office receipts, earning him over $95 million dollars.
- One of the biggest surprises in the movie is when we find out that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. To keep it a secret from everyone, only three people knew about it while filming. They were George Lucas, the director Irvin Kershner and producer Gary Kurtz.
- When Mark Hamill was shooting the trash compactor scene, he held his breath for so long that he burst a blood vessel on the side of his face. They had to shoot the rest of the scene in a way to avoid showing the blemish.
- There are two stars related by blood that have been in the Star Wars movies. Dennis Lawson who played Wedge Antilles (one of the pilots that was Luke Skywalker’s friend and fellow pilot) is Ewan McGregor’s uncle in real life (Ewan McGregor portrayed the young Obi-Wan Kanobi in three of the Star Wars films).
Actor Dennis Lawson portraying Wedge Antilles; then and now
- Yoda’s character was almost played by a monkey carrying a cane and wearing a mask.
- The actor that played Darth Vader, David Prowse, was banned from attending all official Star Wars events because George Lucas found him annoying. According to David Prowse’s website, the only reason given was that he had “burnt too many bridges between Lucas Film and myself.”
- You can use the Star Wars collectible coins as real money on the tiny South Pacific Island of Niue. This references an article written in 2011, so if you’re planning on visiting the Island of Niue, please check beforehand if they are still accepting Star Wars collectible coins.
- The communication tool that Qui-Gon Jinn (played by Liam Neeson) used was based on the Gillette Ladies Sensor Razor.
- The phrase “I have a bad feeling about this” (or a similar sounding phrase) is said in every Star Wars movie. Do you know how many times this phrase is used throughout all the Star Wars movies? (the answer is at the bottom).
- Stunt doubles were not used for the scene in which Luke and Leia swing to safety. Carrie Fisherand Mark Hamill performed that stunt themselves, shooting it in just one take.
- According to Mark Hamill, studio executives were unhappy that Chewbacca had no clothes and attempted to have the costume redesigned with shorts.
We hope you have enjoyed some of the back story and trivia for Star Wars. Check back with us at the end of December for additional Star Wars merchandise.
Let us know which movie is your favorite and if you’ll be seeing the new movie, Episode VII when it opens on Dec. 18th.
May the force be with you!
(Answer is 8)