The original space opera created by George Lucas would blow movie audiences away when it came to theaters in 1977 and would go on to become one of the most beloved trilogies of all time comes in at number one in my Reggie’s Take Movie Franchise Countdown.
In 1973 after the success of American Graffiti George Lucas wanted to make a fun and adventurous space opera. Originally, Lucas wanted to adapt Flash Gordon serials into a film, realizing how badly done those serial films were began to wonder what would happen if they were done well.
Lucas then set out to buy the rights to Flash Gordon, but was unable to and decided to just write his own space opera. By 1975 Lucas had completed the second draft of The Star Wars script. The third draft of Lucas’s script, dated August of 1975 was titled “The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller” had a lot of elements of the movie.
United Artists and Universal Pictures turned down Lucas before 20th Century Fox agreed to let George do his space opera. Principal photography of the first film began on March 22, 1976. 20th Century Fox having disbanded there visual effects department forced George to form his own visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic.
Star Wars debuted on Wednesday, May 25, 1977 and immediately broke box office records. Originally released with the title of “Star Wars”, but later Episode IV A New Hope was added to the opening crawl to bring the film in line with the sequels that were being released.
After the huge success of Star Wars in 1977, George Lucas began working on the sequel. By late November of 1977 Lucas had written a treatment entitled “The Empire Strikes Back”. During the writing of Empire, Lucas came up with the idea to make Darth Vader the father of Luke Skywalker and introduce us to Yoda a Jedi Master who would train Luke.
Directed by Irvin Kershner written by Lawernce Kasdan and George Lucas, Empire would be set three years after the events of the first film. The Empire Strikes Back began filming in March of 1979. The original budget for Empire was $18 million, 50% more than what the first one and eventually became one the most expensive movies made at $33 million dollars.
On May 17, 1980 the world premiere of The Empire Strikes Back was held in Washington, D.C. and would go on to earn $209,398,025 during its original 1980 release.
In 1983 Lucas brought us the third movie in his space opera trilogy, Return of the Jedi. With Jedi there was an issue if Harrison Ford would return for the final movie. Ford was not contracted to do two sequels and after the success of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981 Harrison’s star had gone up. A producer on Raiders who was serving, as one on Return of The Jedi was able to convince Ford to return even though Ford had suggested that Han Solo should be killed off.
Return of the Jedi was released to theaters on May 25, 1983 and was a huge hit to conclude George’s original trilogy.
Where do I begin? Seriously, the original Star Wars trilogy was my first movie franchise that I fell in love with. I’ve been lucky enough to watch every Star Wars movie in the theater as they have come out.
As a kid it was Star Wars that got me into science fiction, it was Star Wars that got me into movies and it was Star Wars that also spurred my imagination as a kid and as an adult and this last one could be considered wrong by some, but it was Star Wars that got me into that other science fiction property, Star Trek.
At the start of Star Wars or A New Hope the crawl goes by and you get immediately sucked in as a Star Destroyer is pursuing a rebel ship. The roar of the ships, the fighting and John Williams music in the background, what more does a young boy need?
When it comes to the original trilogy, Empire Strikes Back has to be my favorite of the three, as I’m sure it is with a lot of people. Then I would say it’s a New Hope followed by Return of the Jedi, but in all honesty I wouldn’t be able to argue with anyone who had these three movies in whatever order.
For those who might be reading this and wondering why it’s just the original trilogy that was voted in and not the entire saga? When I decided to do a movie franchise countdown I wanted it to be different.
I wanted to separate the original trilogy from the sequels, just like I separated the TOS cast from the TNG cast in Star Trek. I also separated Sean Connery’s Bond movies from Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan’s portrayals.
By separating out franchise as I did (and I explained this in a post when this all began) I wanted to see what franchises were liked better and what weren’t as loved. Almost everyone loves the original Star Wars trilogy, but the prequels not so much. It also showed me which cast or actor were more beloved and which not so much.
When you go back and look at my entire top twenty-movie franchise some of you may agree and some may disagree, but than again I don’t agree with a lot of the list I’ve seen put out by critics. Everyone has different taste and my franchise countdown was not just my own taste, but also that of many, many friends and co-workers.
Would love to know your thoughts about the results of my movie franchise countdown and whether or not you agree or disagree.
You can also check out our latest Podcast #40 where we talk all about the Top 10 movie franchises on our list.
Star Wars: A New Hope / 1977
Nineteen years after the formation of the Empire, Luke Skywalker is thrust into the struggle of the Rebel Alliance when he meets Obi-Wan Kenobi, who has lived for years in seclusion on the desert planet of Tatooine. Obi-Wan begins Luke’s Jedi training as Luke joins him on a daring mission to rescue the beautiful Rebel leader Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil Empire. Although Obi-Wan sacrifices himself in a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader, his former apprentice, Luke proves that the Force is with him by destroying the Empire’s dreaded Death Star.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back / 1980
After the destruction of the Death Star, Imperial forces continue to pursue the Rebels. After the Rebellion’s defeat on the ice planet Hoth, Luke journeys to the planet Dagobah to train with Jedi Master Yoda, who has lived in hiding since the fall of the Republic. In an attempt to convert Luke to the dark side, Darth Vader lures young Skywalker into a trap in the Cloud City of Bespin. In the midst of a fierce lightsaber duel with the Sith Lord, Luke faces the startling revelation that the evil Vader is in fact his father, Anakin Skywalker.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi / 1983
In the epic conclusion of the saga, the Empire prepares to crush the Rebellion with a more powerful Death Star while the Rebel fleet mounts a massive attack on the space station. Luke Skywalker confronts his father Darth Vader in a final climactic duel before the evil Emperor. In the last second, Vader makes a momentous choice: he destroys the Emperor and saves his son. The Empire is finally defeated, the Sith are destroyed, and Anakin Skywalker is thus redeemed. At long last, freedom is restored to the galaxy.
Categories: Movie Franchise Countdown