By Robert Lisiecki
May the fourth be with you. Wait, I thought it was, “may the force be with you.” You know a film made a monumental impact on society when people assign a date in the calendar year to geek out. Let’s get geeky, Star Wars friends.
I’m admittedly not a self-proclaimed Star Wars nerd, but I’ve had a few light saber fights in my day, and I was Jar Jar Binks one year for Halloween; so, that counts for something… right?
It’s fascinating to think about the impactful nature of Star Wars, and how it still remains a force today (they just released the cast for the new movie!). Not only was it a monumental cinematic success, but it also impacted Hollywood, pop culture, and merchandising.
It’s hard to imagine a world without Star Wars. A world with only Trekkies? I’ll pass.
As hard as it is to imagine, Star Wars almost never made it to the big screen. Seriously! Despite his success with American Graffiti, George Lucas had difficulties finding a major studio to sign his future blockbuster.
According to Innovation Masters: History’s Best Examples of Business Transformation, “Universal studios passed on Star Wars, as did most of the other major studio executives in Hollywood, California. The sole exception was Alan Ladd, Jr., who had recently taken over as the head of financially troubled 20th Century Fox Film Corporation (Fox).”
I think that relationship turned out to be a pretty great one for both sides. It cost $11 million to make Star Wars in 1977 while it grossed more than $500 million globally in its first theatrical run that year. WOW. Incredibly, that figure is only from its first theatrical run—it doesn’t include the other movies, the re-releases, or the merchandising. Oh yeah, did you know that George Lucas traded his director’s fee for 40 percent of the box office grosses, the right to make the final cut, and all merchandising rights?
Fox thought they were getting a deal, but I think they might have gotten played. Lucas and Star Wars changed the merchandising game. His success increased Hollywood’s interest in merchandising as well as the Sci-Fi genre. Talk about a game-changer.
The best part about Star Wars, or the idea of Star Wars, to me, is that Lucas had a vision and stuck with it. He worked hard for it and didn’t let rejection stop him from realizing his dream. Lucas stated Star Wars was only 70 percent of what he had imagined; however, Lucas stuck with his vision and, luckily for you Star Wars geeks, released the special edition as a “director’s wish.”From the advanced graphics to the Science Fiction story line, Lucas took the industry by storm and will forever be ingrained in its history because of it.
Honestly, there is so much more to discuss regarding George Lucas and Star Wars. I found most of my information from searching “Star Wars” in GVRL and sifting Innovation Masters: History’s Best Examples of Business Transformation and St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. My search yielded many more titles and results though. I’d highly encourage anyone who is curious to search GVRL. Also, look out for DK Adventures: Star Wars: Jedi Battles and DK Adventures: Star Wars: Sith Wars, both titles to come later this year. How awesome is that?!
I could probably go on a about Star Wars because through my research and memory I find it really interesting. If you couldn’t tell, I like to geek out often. For today, though, I think it’s important we thinking about the impact and take away a key message: If you have a vision, see it through. After all, it could turn out to be the next best thing!
I hope you take a page from Star Wars this day and use the force to change the world. May force be with you, this May the fourth!
Robert is a left-handed person living in a right-handed world. He is showing English majors that it is possible to get a job in the “real world” with an English degree. He likes giant carrots.