Star Wars at 40: This Will Be a Day Long Remembered
May the Fourth be with you!
A long time ago, in a theater far, far away, a great adventure took place. It was Wednesday, May 25, 1977, and a small $9 million movie with limited expectations made its way into 32 theaters across the country. Its distributor, 20th Century Fox, had little faith in the film, and had been unable to book the movie into more theaters. (By comparison, The Deep, which also opened that summer, played on more than 800 screens.) But by the end of that weekend, the film’s distributors, its makers, and the moviegoing public knew one thing: The world of cinema had changed forever. Star Wars had taken over the country’s (and soon the world’s) imagination and broke records left and right. It played in theaters for more than a year, typically in the same single-screen venue (think about that for a minute), and was re-released multiple times. It is the movie that rewrote all the rules and inspired not just a generation, but also those that have followed.
As experts in community, social media, and fan forums, we here at ModSquad appreciate not only the strength and longevity of the Star Wars community but also count ourselves amongst its extensive fan base. So it would stand to reason that we’re a wee bit excited about this month’s Star Wars day (May the Fourth be with you!) and the impending anniversary. The online Star Wars community, both on social media, fan forums, and in real-world applications, is one of the strongest assemblages of enthusiasts across pop culture, and has spawned numerous charity organizations and events, always the epitome of fandom at its finest.
We surveyed a few of the fans among the ModSquad team to share their recollections of their first exposure to Wookiees, droids, light sabers, and X-Wing fighters. Enjoy this trip down memory lane and remember: The Force will be with you, always.
I was in my early high school years when the first movie was released. There was a lot of pre-release chatter about it — I remember that much of it was because George Lucas was so young at the time, 33 years old. When I saw it, I thought that Han Solo was far more dashing than Luke Skywalker, and thought they’d cast the wrong character as the hero.
I was ten years old, living in Southern California. My mom bought special tickets to the premiere of Star Wars in Los Angeles, California at the Chinese Theater. Back then, 70mm Dolby Stereo was the elite format! I remember walking into this huge theater where the screen was behind these super tall red velvet drapes. I still remember the musical score starting and the curtains parting. It was amazing, a favorite childhood memory.
So, this isn’t so much a Star Wars memory as a family memory. It was 1977, we were living in Cupertino, California, and my dad announced that we were going to the movies as a family. I was like, “What?” That has never ever happened, before or since. Some movie called Star Wars, which sounded awful to me, but my brother started bouncing off the walls with happiness. My mom got us all dressed up (dress, gloves, tights, and my best shoes) and we headed to the Century 22 Theater in San Jose. It was a party-like atmosphere outside the theater, and I was still amazed that we were actually there taking part in the festivities. What I remember most was the incredible line of stalls in the most ornate bathroom I had ever seen. I think I made 12 different excuses to keep using the facilities, so I could gaze at its gold-gilded splendor. I actually don’t remember much about the movie itself — I was too caught up in the sheer excitement of the day, and that I will never forget.
I was introduced to Star Wars when my dad brought home the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition on VHS. My brother and I proceeded to watch Episode IV one day, Episode V the next day, Episode VI the day after that, and then we’d start again at Episode IV. I was ten at the time and thought Mark Hamill was sooo dreamy. I thought, “Well, I’m young, but he looks young, too. When I’m older, the age difference won’t be that big a deal, so there’s a chance.” I was so disappointed when I realized the movie had come out 20 years earlier.
I’ve been a Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember. I would probably still have Star Wars sheets on my bed, if my wife would allow it. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to go to garage sales and flea markets in search of old Star Wars toys. More recently, I’ve had fun watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars series and Star Wars Rebels with my son. He’s still young, but he’ll hopefully grow into as big of a Star Wars fan as his dad. I took him to a recent Star Wars Day event where he did battle with Darth Maul.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… I was a little girl who loved Star Wars. While I wish I could say that it was Leia who influenced my Jedi girl power, I was actually obsessed with the magic of the Jedi and the creatures from the Henson Creature Shop. Jabba, the Rancor, Yoda… they were so real, it blew my mind! I’ve been to three Star Wars Celebrations events thus far, and I am incredibly sad to have missed the 40th anniversary celebration in Orlando this past April. Needless to say, I’m incredibly excited for this December. If The Last Jedi is even half as good as I found Rogue One to be, we have a very bright future ahead of us, Star Wars fans.
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