May 25, 1977: Star Wars Released
Yes fans, it was on this day in 1977 that the film opened to become the world-wide pop culture phenomena that it was and still is. Star Wars earned $461 million in the U.S and $314 overseas totaling $775 million, surpassing Jaws (1975), being the highest-grossing movie until E.T came along in 1983. Now if we adjust for inflation, it becomes the third highest-grossing film in the world. [click images to enlarge]
Star Wars won six Academy Awards at the 50th Academy Awards:
- Best Art Direction
- Best Costume Design
- Best Film Editing
- Best Original Score
- Best Sound
- Best Visual Effects.
A Special Achievement for Sound Effects Editing went to sound designer Ben Burtt. Additional nominations included Alec Guinness for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and George Lucas for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture, which were instead awarded to Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.
“What makes the Star War experience unique, though, is that it happens on such an innocent and often funny level. It’s usually violence that draws me so deeply into a movie — violence ranging from the psychological torment of a Bergman character to the mindless crunch of a shark’s jaws. Maybe movies that scare us find the most direct route to our imaginations. But there’s hardly any violence at all in Star Wars (and even then it’s presented as essentially bloodless swashbuckling). Instead, there’s entertainment so direct and simple that all of the complications of the modern movie seem to vaporize.”
—Roger Ebert, his review for the Chicago Sun-Times
Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion and announced three new Star Wars films, with the first film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, planned for release in 2015.
Little known Star Wars facts:
Yoda’s face was based on Albert Einstein, and initially his first name was Minch. Yoda’s original voice was done by Frank Oz who also did the voices for Miss Piggy and Cookie Monster.
Skywalker’s original character’s name was Starkiller but Lucas wanted to soften that up some reflecting a more peaceful character.
The iconic poster for Return of the Jedi featured Lucas’ hands. He didn’t trust Mark Hamill to do it correctly so those are his hands holding the light saber.
In The Phantom Menace, the communicator used by Qui-Gon Jinn is a women’s electric shaver.
Darth Vader’s physical presence was played by English actor and body builder David Prowse. He was a bit pissed that Lucas used James Earl Jones’ classic voice for the role and not his. Good call.
Film makers were originally going to use a real monkey for the Jedi Master, Yoda. Thankfully they called on “Muppets” creator, Jim Henson, to help bring the puppet to life.
While filming the first movie few people in the crew knew that Vader was Luke’s father. Lucas had James Earl Jones record “I killed your father” for the big scene so the crew thought that would be the big surprise revelation.
Jen Burtt created the sound of the light sabers by recording the sound of television feedback emitted when he carried a microphone past the TV’s speakers. He combined this with the hum of an old projector which is heard whenever a light saber is active.
Going one step further, he achieved the Doppler effect when characters were swinging the weapons around by swinging a microphone cord back and forth in from of a speaker while playing the hum of the saber.
The Wookiee Chewbacca language was again created by Ben Burtt. He recorded the screams, squeals and moans of camels, walruses, bears, badgers and sick animals. He collected sounds that he felt had emotion behind them.
There is one line featured in all six Star Wars movies, sometimes slightly altered – “I have a very bad feeling about this”