The original 1977 “Star Wars” – now known as “Episode IV: A New Hope” – was expected to be a critical and box office failure. Director George Lucas even skipped the premiere because he was so sure it would flop.
Then the movie came out.
“Star Wars” became the highest grossing movie in history until “ET” in 1983. It made $775 million at the worldwide box office, and that number shoots up to above a billion after inflation. So it’s safe to say “Star Wars” is the biggest underdog movie of all time. But why did it become so successful? Why did “Star Wars” become the most iconic franchise of all time, when everyone was so sure it would fail?
“Star Wars” is unique and hopeful. When it was released in 1977, America was just coming off of the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Americans wanted something hopeful. Something unique. Everything became boring in the 70’s. The world was really just at a standstill.
“Star Wars” was an escape. It was something people could go watch and not have to think about their boring everyday lives. People could journey to a galaxy far, far away instead of thinking about the worries of the world, and people still do. “Star Wars” isn’t just a movie, it’s a cultural phenomenon. There’s no feeling quite like the one you get when “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” appears on the screen.
In 1966, “Star Trek” first aired. “Star Trek” became widely popular, and the Sci-Fi genre grew even more popular when Stanley Kubrick’s acclaimed “2001: A Space Odyssey” hit theaters. “Star Trek” was then cancelled in 1969, and the Sci-Fi genre kind of fizzled out, even though there was a high demand for it. Then George Lucas finally made the movie that would revive the Sci-Fi genre, “Star Wars”. The demand for Sci-Fi after the cancellation of “Star Trek” was then met. All of these things factored into “Star Wars’s” success.
It was everything everyone wanted in a movie, and that’s why “Star Wars” is what it is today. It came at a boring time, where audiences were looking for something new and refreshing. If the original “Star Wars” came out today, it wouldn’t be what it was in the 70’s because it was so unique for its time.
“Star Wars” is proof you don’t need to make a $250 million comic book movie to be successful. That’s what Hollywood doesn’t understand. We don’t want or need every other movie to be a sequel, prequel, rebooquel – yes that’s a thing – , or remake! All you need is one unique idea.
It’s crazy to think what the world would be like without “Star Wars”. Without “Star Wars” there is no “Battlestar Galactica,” no “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” and no revival of “Star Trek” as a series of successful feature films that continues today.
Thank you, George Lucas.