Generations of Fans Fuel Star Wars Success

Generations of Fans Fuel Star Wars Success

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Almost 40 years after its cinematic debut, the Star Wars saga continues to take the world by storm. The seventh film in the iconic American science fiction franchise recently was released to record-breaking crowds in 45 international markets. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened domestically December 18, 2015, and according to news reports, is estimated to have raked in more than $50 million on the first night, exceeding the $43.5 million mark set by the previous top earner, Warner Brothers’ 2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. In fact, the new Star Wars film sold more than $100 million worth of U.S. advance tickets and was projected to rake in a whopping $200 million over its first full weekend – effectively covering all of its production costs.

The latest chapter in the Star Wars saga harkens back to the original George Lucas story line where brave and beautiful Princess Leia, Jedi trainee Luke Skywalker and the errant hot-shot pilot Han Solo join the rebels in their fight against the evil Galactic Empire. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, these aging warriors are replaced with a new generation of ragtag, but indefatigable heroes who pledge their allegiance to the Resistance (new name for rebels) and its valiant attempts to defeat the even-more-evil (if that’s possible) First Order. Although the faces of the heroes have changed, much about the formulaic good versus evil plot sequence remains the same. Like its predecessors, the latest Star Wars film conjures up images of a fictional galaxy filled with alien creatures, robotic droids, X-wings, Stormtroopers, lightsabers, Star Destroyers, and most importantly – The Force. As any diehard fan knows, this mythical, omnipresent energy field can be used for both good and bad and endows its wielders with superhuman speed, reflexes, and mind controlling abilities. If you fall to sleep each night secretly dreaming of honing your own Jedi-like powers, you’re not alone. According to the New York Times review, J.J. Abrams (director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) was only 11-years-old when he saw the original movie in 1977. Since then, he has become one of literally hundreds of thousands who have watched the story unfold over the years, glued to the edge of their seats as they laughed, cried, and waved plastic lightsabers in symbolic unison with their fictional heroes.

The first film, simply titled Star Wars, was released May 25, 1977, by 20th Century Fox. The next two films in the original trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi followed soon after in 1980 and 1983 respectively. A prequel trilogy was later released between 1999 and 2005. All six films were considered cinematic and commercial successes, widely reported to have brought in combined box office revenues of $4.38 billion.

The series quickly became an iconic name in the halls of cinematography, developing a cult-like following and leaving an indelible mark on modern American pop culture. The story line was parodied in numerous TV shows and films, one of the most notable being the Mel Brooks’ comedy Spaceballs. A vast media, toys, and accessories franchise was launched that includes books, television shows, computer and video games, theme park attractions, comics, apparel, and trading cards. Even the Reagan-era proposed Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) system of lasers and ICBM intercepting missiles was nicknamed Star Wars. And so, an empire was born, not as malevolent as the Galactic Empire, but every bit as wide ranging and enduring. When Disney acquired Lucas Film for roughly $4 billion in 2012, it knew it was buying a sure thing.


Through their choice of accessories, Star Wars fans find subtle and not-so-subtle ways of expressing their allegiance to the mega franchise. Photos from

In anticipation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans have been planning Star Wars themed weddings, participating in community organized lightsaber battles, plundering costume shops for Star Wars related garb and paraphernalia and waiting patiently in gargantuan lines – some camping out for weeks in advance of opening night. Disney’s gamble, if you could call it that, is certain to pay off. With rave reviews flooding the internet and a score of 95%, analysts are predicting Disney will earn back its $4 billion investment even before the latest Star Wars film ends its run – largely on the basis of repeat viewership. And Star Wars: The Force Awakens is just the first film in yet another trilogy. The next title, Star Wars Episode VIII debuts May 26, 2017. Only 524 days to go!
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