Star Wars is regarded as one of the most popular franchises in the film industry, and because of its popularity, the franchise has also appeared not only in films but also on television screens, video games, novels, comic books, and even in theme parks. It is estimated that Star Wars has a total value of $70 billion, making it one of the biggest franchises in terms of value.
Besides having a high value, the Star War franchise is also the fifth-highest-grossing media franchise of all time as of 2022. The franchise started with the very first film called Star Wars, which was released in 1977 and would later be subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope. From there, several more films would be added, and there would be a total of three movie trilogies that will be made until 2019, namely the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy, and the sequel trilogy. To know more about the franchise and its popularity, here are details about the creation of Star Wars and its impact on pop culture.
The Creation of Star Wars
George Lucas, the mastermind behind the Star Wars franchise, initially wanted to create a film adaptation of Flash Gordon, a science fiction serial that was first published in 1936. However, when he could not obtain the rights for the serial in 1971, he decided to just make his own sci-fi space opera.
After he finished directing American Graffiti, a comedy-drama film released in 1973, Lucas wrote a two-page synopsis for his space opera and showed it to the executives of 20th Century Fox, who agreed to invest in it. After the synopsis was approved, Lucas would then start working on the screenplay for the film in 1974.
The first Star Wars film would be released in 1977 and would become a massive success for George Lucas and 20th Century Fox. The success of the film is evident in its box office, as it was able to get $775.8 million against an $11 million budget, making it one of the highest-grossing films of all time. When adjusted for inflation, the movie is actually the second-highest-grossing film in North America next to Gone with the Wind, which premiered in theaters in 1939.
A year before the release of the first Star Wars movie, George Lucas and his company Lucasfilm contacted numerous toy companies to know if they are interested in licensing Star Wars for action figures. The license was first offered to Mego Corporation, which was one of the biggest manufacturers of action figures during the 70s. However, Mego Corporation refused the offer, so Kenner (a relatively small company compared to Mego) grabbed the license for the Star Wars action figures. Kenner would go on to produce some of the most memorable and highly sought-after action figures for Star Wars. To know more about Kenner as a company, check out our article titled “Learn About Kenner, the Company Behind the Classic Star Wars Figures.”
The success of the first film allowed George Lucas to expand on the film’s story and make it a basis for an elaborate film serial. He eventually decided to make Star Wars into a trilogy of trilogies, which means that there would be three trilogies that will be released over the years.
George Lucas’s idea would eventually come to fruition, as the original trilogy (1977 to 1983), the prequel trilogy (1999 to 2005), and the sequel trilogy (2015 to 2019) were released in theaters. These three trilogies would be combined to form the “Skywalker Saga,” and the universe of the franchise would further be expanded through various forms of media and art.
The Impact of Star Wars on the Film Industry
The first Star Wars film already made a huge impact within the film industry, as its box office shattered most records in Hollywood and in the industry as a whole. In just three weeks after the release of the film, the stock price of 20th Century Fox doubled, as their annual profits in 1977 were $79 million, while before the film was released, the profits were only $37 million.
Star Wars also impacted the trend in films during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Before Star Wars, films were often about deep stories that had dramatic conflicts, like Gone with the Wind in 1939. However, after the first Star Wars film, many directors and studios thrived by copying the success of Star Wars and making their own special-effects-focused blockbusters. Because of Star Wars, many studios also started to focus on making the best special effects, which was not really advanced during the 1950s to 1960s.
However, there are some people that criticize Star Wars for ruining or dumbing down the film industry, as many films that have come out after Star Wars were made for younger audiences and thus have little to no emphasis on the story and development of the characters. Before Star Wars, the popular movies were stand-alone and dramatic films that focused more on character development rather than special effects, and these movies include Taxi Driver and The Godfather. But, there are also some critics that defended Star Wars, as they believed that the film actually revived the industry and brought what it truly brings to audiences, which are happiness and excitement.
Despite criticisms of the franchises’ story, there are plenty of film critics that actually analyze the story and the characters, which are believed to have deep motivations and emotions for their actions. While the franchise is primarily made for a younger audience, there are mature themes that are found within some of the films of the Skywalker Saga and the line of spinoffs. Some film schools even use Star Wars films as a learning resource for students to understand basic skills in storytelling.
Besides the film industry, Star Wars also had an impact in the toy industry, as the Star Wars toy line that was produced by Kenner in the 1970s and early 1980s are considered to have the best and most popular action figures of that era. If you want to know more, you can read about the Top Pop Culture Toys of the 70s.
The Weapons of the Star Wars Franchise
Besides the story and the characters, the weapons of the Star Wars franchise are so iconic that they are even referenced in several unrelated films. The most popular weapons in the franchise are the blaster and the lightsaber, although the latter is much more known because of its amazing blade that is supposed to be made of laser or plasma that can cut through almost all types of materials.
Because of the popularity of the lightsaber, many film studios, science labs, and independent garages have tried to make a real-life lightsaber that actually works as a weapon. Unfortunately, creating a real lightsaber is still quite a challenge for many people as of 2022, as creating so much energy in such a compact body or chassis is impossible. So, a working lightsaber would probably remain far-fetched for us in the 21st century.
Those are some of the best details that we can provide about the Star Wars franchise and its impact on pop culture and the film industry. As of 2022, the Star Wars franchise is still going strong, as there are a couple of TV series, films, and video games that have been released in the previous years or are planned to release soon. It is safe to say that the sci-fi franchise will remain relevant today and in the future.