A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away … those words opened not only “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” but began a cultural phenomenon that is still going strong 35 years after the film opened. There aren’t many artistic properties that can say that. Know someone who’s never seen “Star Wars?” You’re shocked when you meet someone who hasn’t. Who doesn’t know what a lightsaber is? Darth Vader? Luke Skywalker? Princess Leia?
It’s almost beyond belief to hear that when the film opened, it did so to mostly empty theaters. The film opened on May 25, 1977 and only in 32 venues. They didn’t even have a premiere. The Daily News reports, “Theaters didn’t want the movie. We were lucky to get thirty theaters to
open it,” according to Charles Lippincott, former Lucasfilm promotions chief.”
The reviews, however, were good. Fans who saw it once were so enthralled that they went back and saw it again and again. By August, it was in 1,000 theaters. Two sequels, three prequels, a cartoon, a Christmas special, video games, comic books, toys, a clothing line, Halloween costumes and a brilliant animated TV show “The Clone Wars” later, the film is one of the most iconic of all time.
May the force be with you.