May 25, 1977: ‘Star Wars’ opens to the public
The ’70s were packed with great films at every turn. Taxi Driver, Jaws, and Rocky delivered amazing stories that many can see becoming reality. George Lucas wanted to bring his idea of a rocking space adventure to life. It wasn’t easy getting it off the ground, though.
In a galaxy far, far away
Following a slew of short films, director George Lucas unveiled his dystopian sci-fi film THX 1138 in 1971. While it was a huge flop, it led to Lucas dreaming up another sci-fi project. This time around, it wouldn’t be so pessimistic for viewers. Opting for lighter tones, Lucas spent the first half of 1973 writing this brand new tale. With the success of American Graffiti, Lucas figured it would be easy to sell this story to studios. Unfortunately, a vast majority of people scoffed at the idea. “I’ve always been an outsider to the Hollywood types. They think I do weirdo films,” he told Time. Fortunately, 20th Century Fox head Alan Ladd Jr. saw something unique and gave him a shot with the studio.
The force is strong with this one
With a major studio backing him, Lucas thought it was smooth sailing from there. When it came to filming, disaster struck on a consistent rate. From falling behind schedule to location problems, there was some new issue every day. The rising budget didn’t help the relationship between Lucas and Fox, either. Many of the top executives at Fox simply wrote the film off as a box office bomb. Lucas’ personal health took a toll when he was diagnosed with hypertension and exhaustion. He vowed to walk away from the movie industry following Star Wars‘ release.
I find your lack of faith disturbing
After months of stress and uncertainty, Star Wars was officially released on May 25, 1977. Since Fox gave up on the film, it only opened in 32 theaters nationwide. In Hollywood, the only theater that chose to air it was Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Due to word of mouth, fans packed the area to see this new space opera. Because of the growing interest, Fox was forced to ship it off to 1,096 theaters in the country. Some theaters kept airing the film for a year straight. When it was all said and done, the film earned $220 million in its initial theatrical run. For Lucas, this “weirdo film” set him up for the rest of his life.