May 25, 2014
'Star Wars' Opens In Theaters On This Day In 1977 And The Rest Is History

May 25 is Star Wars day and today marks the 37th anniversary of the original A New Hope, directed by George Lucas starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Alec Guiness.

Even though none of those involved with the production were household names at the time -- except for Guiness -- and Lucas had his doubts that Star Wars would even become successful, it went on to be the greatest grossing movie that year.

To Lucas' surprise, both the public and critics seemed to like his film -- originally released in only 32-movie theaters across the US -- a sci-fi story that followed young Jedi apprentice Luke Skywalker (Hamill), who finds himself in the midst of a life and death fight between The Force and the Dark Side in a galaxy far, far away.

Reaction to the original Star Wars trilogy -- released at three years' intervals -- was mostly positive and all six of the episodes have been nominated and won Academy Awards.

The Star Wars franchise has earned $4.38 billion since opening on May 25, 1977 and is the fifth-highest grossing movie series in history.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

The original film was titled Star Wars, however, following the release of the sequels -- which had the titles Return Of The Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back -- Lucas decided to add A New Hope to the original title to remain consistent with the sequels and insert a relevant name for the release of the prequels.

In 1971, Universal Studios agreed to produce American Graffiti and Star Wars, but later rejected the space saga during its early conceptual phase.

After completing American Graffiti in 1973, Lucas started his first draft of The Journal of the Whills, which would become Star Wars.

At times Lucas was frustrated with his inability to properly explain the concept of what he had in mind for Star Wars and did several revisions to his script in the next few years.

Luke Skywalker, was originally named Luke Starkiller and he also had a main character called Annikin Starkiller, who was Luke's father.

The fourth draft Lucas wrote in 1976 was titled Adventures of Luke Starkiller, as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars, which was later changed to The Star Wars and finally only Star Wars. During production he also changed Starkiller to Skywalker.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope poster

At this point Lucas had also introduced the Death Star concept and Ben Kenobi and wasn't expecting Star Wars to become part of a trilogy.

Several Star Wars re-releases have taken place since May 25, 1977, most notably the one for the 20th anniversary in 1997 and as we get ready to welcome the latest installment, Episode VII we look back at how this mega successful franchise came to be. Happy Star Wars Day.

[Image via Lucasfilm]