Why do fans love Star Wars? | Fin24

Why do fans love Star Wars?

Jan 02 2016 07:30
Stefanie Muller and Lameez Omarjee

The droid duo R2-D2 (L) and C-3PO (R) are central to the Star Wars saga and the only characters to have appeared in all seven films.

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When Star Wars made its debut in American cinemas on 25 May 1977, after many delays, no one − including its creator and director, George Lucas − expected it to be a box office hit. 

But his little film, made on what was considered a shoe-string budget for a Hollywood production even then ($11m) became the world’s first blockbuster, grossing $775.4m worldwide.

At the time, a hallmark of science-fiction films and TV shows − such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Star Trek (1966-69) − was the ‘futuristic’ look, characterised by sleek lines and clean design.

The worlds did not look ‘lived in’. Lucas bucked this trend, setting his story “long ago, in a galaxy far, far away” and making his locations look gritty, the characters rugged and many of the props and vehicles cobbled-together and inelegant. (Some of this would change with the second trilogy.) 

The saga continues 

The success of the first Star Wars film (later renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) meant that Lucas could continue telling his story, resulting in the release of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and the conclusion of what would become known as the Original Trilogy − The Return of the Jedi − three years later.

The trilogy grossed $1.8bn worldwide and launched the careers of Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo). Ford went on to star in the Indiana Jones film series, produced by Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

Lucas would go on to make another Star Wars trilogy, set before the events of the Original Trilogy, which was released between 1999 and 2005.

While these films were commercially successful, a number of fans were less than enamoured with their storylines, citing an over-reliance on special effects and weak characterisation as negatives.

Collectively, the six films produced by Lucas grossed over $4.4bn worldwide.  

Besides box office and film sales, the franchise generates revenue from merchandise, video games and books.

So far 358 titles by 76 different authors have been published.

Sales of toys or collectibles for the Original Trilogy between 1978 and 1985 earned over $3.8bn.

This is for over 300m unit sales for 90 figures. Between 1995 and 2011, 15 collections were sold for over $5bn. 

The Disney deal

In 2012, the rights to the franchise were transferred to The Walt Disney Company for over $4bn.

Self-confessed Star Wars fan JJ Abrams was hired to direct the first film of a new trilogy, set a few decades after the Original Trilogy.

Previously Abrams directed the reboot of Star Trek and its sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness. He is also known for his work on science-fiction series such as Lost and Fringe, which he co-created.  

This is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in the 31 December 2015 edition of finweek. Buy and download the magazine here


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