Far, far away, back in 1977, George Lucas created the first film of the space epic Star Wars. Packed with out-of-this-world creatures and explosive intergalactic battles, the movie made its first appearance on the big screen on 25 May. It would go on to completely change the face of a genre as well as the children's toy industry.
Written and directed by its creator - who famously turned down his directors fee in exchange to rights to all future merchandising and sales. It was released by 20th Century Fox and became the Highest-grossing sci-fi series at the box office.
A New Hope, combined with its blockbusting sequels and prequels, pulled in more than £2.75 billion ($4.55 billion) in ticket sales around the globe. The six films which made up the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy were all nominated for (or won) Academy Awards and were serious box office successes.
Equally impressive is the revenue generated when the original movie returned to the big screen in 1997. Renamed Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, it grossed £21,903,063 ($35,906,661) in US cinemas on the weekend of 31 January to 2 February, making it the Most profitable opening weekend for a re-released film ever.
The series has also broken plenty of records outside the movie industry, with its numerous merchandise successes. It is the Most successful film merchandising franchise, with the total value of the Star Wars franchise estimated at £19.51 billion ($30.57 billion) as of 2012.
Lucas Licensing on behalf of Lucasfilm has noted over £12.76 billion ($20 billion) in sales of tie-in merchandise worldwide, along with over £1.9 billion ($3 billion) profit from Star Wars video games and $2.5 billion (£1.6 billion) in DVD sales. By way of comparison, the franchise’s nearest competitor, Disney/Pixar’s Cars, currently has a total estimated value of around £3.8 billion ($6 billion).
The Star Wars films have inspired collectors of memorabilia in a way that few other movie franchises have achieved. Steve Sansweet (USA) is the owner of the Largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia, having amassed an estimated 300,000 unique items. 92,240 of these items were accurately audited and catalogued by 4 May 2014 (appropriately, National Star Wars day), attaining him the Guinness World Records title.
The success of the Star Wars franchise shows no signs of abating. In 2012, Disney bought Lucasfilm and announced that they would be making a new trilogy of Star Wars films (with Lucas working as creative consultant), along with a number of spin-off movies.
The second trailer for the long-awaited Star Wars:The Force Awakens became the Most viewed movie trailer on YouTube in 24 hours earlier this year when an incredible 30.65 million people viewed the clip in the space of one day, exemplifying the franchise's continued ability to awaken universal excitement - even after 38 years. The next instalment of the saga will see Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill reprise their roles as Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker from the 1977 original, with many expecting the familiar faces will help the film set a host of new box office records for the franchise.