It’s time to celebrate the Star Wars franchise’s four-decades of dominance over pop culture. Ever since the original film, Star Wars: A New Hope, popped into cinemas in 1977, the epic space-opera franchise has changed the entertainment industry in many ways.
The birth of film sequels
When Star Wars: A New Hope burst into theaters back in 1977, the creation of multiple sequels was not a thing in Hollywood. Then Darth Vader’s escape from the Death Star happened, opening doors for the storyline to continue.
The trend continued, from Rambo through to the Marvel Cinematic Universe sequels. Filmmakers and producers seem unstoppable and immune to franchise fatigue. Why would they get tired when their sequels keep reaping box-office success?
Before the Star Wars franchise became an overpowering force in pop culture, movie merchandising wasn’t happening on the grand scale we see today.
According to Rob Owen, the TV and pop culture writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Star Wars kicked it into a whole new gear, in a new way.”
At the peak of Star Wars mania, parents bought action figures and toys so their children could recreate scenes from the movie franchise, said Steve Sansweet, chairman and chief executive of Rancho Obi-Wan, the largest private Star Wars collection in California.
Books, comics, and spin-offs
The empty years between movies of the Star Wars franchise left their huge fan base room to get creative and resourceful. To fill the gap, their followers created thousands of Star Wars titles. In fact, “there seem to be publishing programs for almost every major Hollywood tentpole,” said Mike Siglain, creative director of Lucasfilm Publishing, which oversees Star Wars books and comics.
Star Wars books were made to keep the magic alive. They are available for every age, including early readers, middle-school students, young-adult, and adult readers.