Star Wars is an American epic space opera franchise that consists of a film series created by George Lucas. The film series has spawned a media franchise outside the film series called the Expanded Universe including books, television series, computer and video games, and comic books. These supplements to the film trilogies have resulted in significant development of the series’ fictional universe. These media kept the franchise active in the interim between the film trilogies. The franchise portrays a universe which is in a galaxy that is described as far, far away. It commonly portrays Jedi as a representation of good, in conflict with the Sith, their evil counterpart. Their weapon of choice, the lightsaber, is commonly recognized in popular culture. The fictional universe also contains many themes, especially influences of philosophy and religion.
The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year intervals. Sixteen years after the release of the trilogy’s final film, the first in a new prequel trilogy of films was released. The three prequel films were also released at three-year intervals, with the final film of that particular series released on May 19, 2005. After a brief hiatus, the movie serial will resume in 2015 with Episode VII, the first film released under the management of The Walt Disney Company, which acquired the serial’s production company, Lucasfilm, in 2012.
Reactions to the original trilogy were mostly positive, with the last film being considered the weakest, while the prequel trilogy received a more mixed reaction, with most of the praise being for the final movie, according to most review aggregator websites. Some of the films in the series were also nominated for or won Academy Awards. A sequel trilogy was rumoured at one time but would not materialize until Disney’s 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm.
All of the main films have been a box office success, with the overall box office revenue generated by the Star Wars films (including the theatrical Star Wars: The Clone Wars) totalling $4.49 billion, making it the third-highest-grossing film series. The success has also led to re-releases in theaters for the series.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a 1999 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the fourth film to be released in the Star Wars saga, as the first of a three-part prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as the first film in the saga in terms of story chronology. The Phantom Menace was also Lucas’ first production as a film director after a 22-year hiatus following the original Star Wars film, and only his fourth overall.
The film follows the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, who escort and protect Queen Amidala in traveling from the planet Naboo to the planet Coruscant in the hope of finding a peaceful end to a large-scale interplanetary trade dispute. The film also features a young Anakin Skywalker before he became a Jedi, introduced as a young slave boy who seems to be unusually strong with nascent powers of The Force, and must contend with the mysterious return of the Sith.
Lucas began production of this motion picture after he had concluded that the science of movie special effects had advanced to the level of what he wanted for his fourth film in the saga. Its filming took place during 1997 (started on June 26, 1997) at various locations including Leavesden Film Studios and the Tunisian desert. Its special effects included extensive use of computer-generated imagery (CGI), with some of its characters and its settings being completely computerized and not existing at all in the real world.
The Phantom Menace premiered in theaters on May 19, 1999, sixteen years after the 1983 premiere of the previous Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi. The film’s premiere was accompanied by considerable hype, extensive media coverage and great anticipation, due to the large cultural following its predecessors had created. Despite mixed reviews by critics, who tended to praise the visuals and action sequences but criticize the writing, characterization and acting, it grossed $924.3 million worldwide during its initial run in theaters, making it the Star Wars film with the highest gross-income (unadjusted for inflation). A 3D reissue was released in February 2012, which has earned an additional $102.7 million at the box office, bringing the film’s overall worldwide total to over $1 billion, returning the film to the top ten highest grossing films of all time, however some months later it would bumped out of the top 10 by The Dark Knight Rises.
The film was followed by two additional sequels: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones in 2002, and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in 2005.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is a 2002 American epic space opera film directed by George Lucas and written by Lucas and Jonathan Hales. It is the fifth film to be released in the Star Wars saga and the second in terms of the series’s internal chronology. At 142 minutes, it is the longest film in the series.
The film is set 10 years after the events in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, when the galaxy is on the brink of civil war. Under the leadership of a renegade Jedi named Count Dooku, thousands of planetary systems threaten to secede from the Galactic Republic. When an assassination attempt is made on Senator Padmé Amidala, the former Queen of Naboo, Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker is assigned to protect her, while his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi is assigned to investigate the assassination attempt. Soon, Anakin, Padmé, and Obi-Wan are drawn into the heart of the Separatist territories and the beginning of a new threat to the galaxy, the Clone Wars.
Released on May 16, 2002, Attack of the Clones was one of the first motion pictures to be shot completely on a high definition digital 24-frame system. Like its predecessor, it garnered mixed reviews from critics and was a financial success; however, it also became the first Star Wars film to be internationally out-grossed in its year of release.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is a 2005 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the sixth and final film released in the Star Wars saga and the third in terms of the series’ internal chronology.
The film takes place three years after the onset of the Clone Wars. The Jedi Knights are spread out across the galaxy leading a massive clone army in the war against the Separatists. The Jedi Council dispatches Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi to eliminate the evil General Grievous, leader of the Separatist Army. Meanwhile, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, separated from Kenobi, his former master, grows close to Palpatine, the Chancellor of the Galactic Republic and, unbeknownst to the public, a Sith Lord. Their deepening friendship proves dangerous for the Jedi Order, The Republic, and Anakin himself who inevitably succumbs to the Dark Side of the Force and becomes Darth Vader, changing the fate of the galaxy forever.
Lucas began writing the script before production of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones began. Filming took place in Australia with additional locations in Thailand and Italy, and lasted over three months. The film was released in theatres on May 19, 2005, and received generally positive reviews from critics, especially in contrast to the previous two prequels.
It broke several box office records during its opening week and went on to earn over $848 million worldwide, making it the second-highest-grossing film in the Star Wars franchise (not adjusting for inflation). It was the highest grossing film of 2005 in the US, and the second highest-grossing film of 2005 worldwide behind Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars, subsequently also known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, is a 1977 American space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga: two subsequent films complete the original trilogy, while a prequel trilogy completes the six-film saga. It is the fourth film in terms of the series’ internal chronology. Groundbreaking in its use of special effects, unconventional editing, and science fiction/fantasy storytelling, the original Star Wars is one of the most successful and influential films of all time.
Set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, the film follows a group of freedom fighters known as the Rebel Alliance as they plot to destroy the powerful Death Star space station, a devastating weapon created by the evil Galactic Empire. This conflict disrupts the isolated life of farmboy Luke Skywalker when he inadvertently acquires the droids carrying the stolen plans of the Death Star. After the Empire begins a cruel and destructive search for the droids, Skywalker decides to accompany Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi on a daring mission to rescue the owner of the droids, rebel leader Princess Leia, and save the galaxy.
Produced with a budget of $11 million and released on May 25, 1977, the film earned $460 million in the United States and $314 million overseas, surpassing Jaws as the nominal highest-grossing film and remained that way until being surpassed by E.T. the Extra Terrestrial in 1983. When adjusted for inflation, it is the second highest grossing film in the US and Canada and is the third highest-grossing in the world as of 2012. Among the many awards the film received, it gained ten Academy Award nominations, winning six; the nominations included Best Supporting Actor for Alec Guinness and Best Picture. The film is often ranked among the best films of all time. Lucas has re-released the film on several occasions, sometimes with significant changes; the most notable versions are the 1997 Special Edition, the 2004 DVD release, and the 2011 Blu-ray release, which have modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, and added scenes.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (also known as The Empire Strikes Back) is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner and written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, with George Lucas writing the film’s story and serving as executive producer. Of the six main Star Wars films, it was the second to be released and the fifth in terms of internal chronology.
The film is set three years after the original Star Wars. The Galactic Empire, under the leadership of the villainous Darth Vader, is in pursuit of Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. While Vader chases a small band of Luke’s friends—Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and others—across the galaxy, Luke studies the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. But when Vader captures Luke’s friends, Luke must decide whether to complete his training and become a full Jedi Knight or to confront Vader and save his comrades.
Following a difficult production, The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980, and initially received mixed reviews from critics, although it has since grown in esteem, becoming one of the most popular chapters in the Star Wars saga and one of the most highly-rated films in history. It earned more than $538 million worldwide over the original run and several re-releases, making it the highest-grossing film of 1980. When adjusted for inflation, it is the 12th-highest-grossing film in the USA and Canada as of 2012.
In 2010, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (also known as Return of the Jedi) is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand and written by George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan, with Lucas as executive producer. It is chronologically the sixth film in the Star Wars franchise and the first film to use THX technology. The film is set approximately one year after The Empire Strikes Back. The evil Galactic Empire, under the direction of the ruthless Darth Vader, is building a second Death Star in order to crush the Rebel Alliance. Since Emperor Palpatine plans to personally oversee the final stages of its construction, the Rebel Fleet launches a full-scale attack on the Death Star in order to prevent its completion and kill Palpatine, effectively bringing an end to the Empire. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker, a Rebel leader and Jedi Knight, struggles to bring Vader, who is his father and himself a fallen Jedi, back from the Dark Side of the Force.
David Lynch and David Cronenberg were considered to direct the project before Marquand signed on as director. The production team relied on Lucas’ storyboards during pre-production. While writing the shooting script, Lucas, Kasdan, Marquand, and producer Howard Kazanjian spent two weeks in conference discussing ideas to construct it. Kazanjian’s schedule pushed shooting to a few weeks earlied to allow Industrial Light & Magic to work on the film’s effects in post-production. Filming took place in England, California and Arizona from January to March 1982, with Lucas handing second unit work. Heavy secrecy surrounded production and the film was given the title Blue Harvest to prevent price gouging.
The film was released in theaters on May 25, 1983, receiving mostly positive reviews. Observers have considered the film to be a slightly lesser achievement than the previous films. The film grossed over $475 million worldwide. Several home video and theatrical releases and revisions to the film followed over the next 20 years. Star Wars continued with Episode I: The Phantom Menace as part of the film series’ prequel trilogy. A 3-D version of the film is scheduled to be released in 2017 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Star Wars saga. A sequel, “Star Wars: Episode VII”, was announced on October 30, 2012 and is planned for a 2015 release.