The 1977 release of “Star Wars” changed Hollywood forever. Four decades later we’re still enthralled. Just last December, “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker”, was released in theaters. Following the previous two movies of the sequel trilogy, “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi”, the main Star Wars film franchise has come to a conclusion. So — Happy Star Wars Day this May 4!
It’s party time on Tatooine.
The first organized Star Wars Day took place in Toronto back in 2011. The event included an Original Trilogy Trivia Game Show, a costume contest, and a showing of fan-made tribute films, mash-ups, parodies, and remixes. In late 2012, Disney purchased Lucasfilm and has officially observed the holiday at Disneyland and Walt Disney World ever since.
When is Star Wars Day 2024?
May the Fourth be with you! A galaxy far, far away is celebrated on Star Wars Day on May 4.
History of Star Wars Day
The “Star Wars” universe is a massive achievement. It is hard to think of a time when “Star Wars” didn’t exist, given its extraordinary influence and popularity in pop culture. It all started with the book “Dune” by Frank Herbert. First published in 1965, it is widely regarded as the base inspiration for “Star Wars,” given the huge similarities between characters and the storyline of the two. Either way, George Lucas set his story in outer space and took the risk of producing a sci-fi movie in 1977, a time when the genre was pretty much dead in Hollywood. Nobody expected the first “Star Wars” movie to do as well as it did. Backed by a meager $9.5 million for production, it had a limited theatre release and was expected to bomb at the box office. There was no way that this sci-fi opus would be a hit. On May 25, 1977, “Star Wars” (later renamed to “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope”) was released.
Through word of mouth and raving reviews, “Star Wars” enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame and changed the entire landscape of cinema, leaving studios completely bewildered by its success. The world was introduced to the Skywalker-family saga, and beloved characters like Han Solo, Yoda, Chewbacca, and perhaps the darkest villain of all time — Darth Vader. Grossing over $100 million by the end of the summer, the first installment of “Star Wars” won six Academy Awards and a Special Achievement Award for groundbreaking accomplishments in special effects. For its time, and considering the limited budget, George Lucas pulled off a massive feat by creating advanced effects and filming impressive space sequences using only small-scale figures and setups.
The success of the first movie was followed by two sequels, “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back,” in 1980 and “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi,” in 1983. The franchise branched out into different commercial lines as well.
20 years after the debut film, Lucas released the second trilogy of films, the ‘prequel trilogy.’ With a new cast of popular actors like Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor, “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” was released in 1999, followed by “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” in 2002, and “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” in 2005. The storyline wasn’t as acclaimed as that of the original trilogy, but the digital technology and effects of the movies had significantly improved and, subsequently, they were overall box-office successes. The marketability of the franchise became more extensive, with a book series, animated TV series, action figures, video games, and clothing lines created for the new generation of “Star Wars” lovers.
Walt Disney Studios acquired the franchise in 2012, and set forth to produce a third trilogy, the ‘sequel trilogies.’ The seventh film, “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens,” was released in 2015. The universe was further expanded with new characters while staying faithful to the true essence of “Star Wars.” “Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi” was released in 2017, followed by “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in 2019. Several stand-alone movies were also tied-in with the main story, “Star Wars: Rogue One” in 2016, and “Solo” in 2018.
So if you are a newbie to the Star Wars universe, here is the viewing order to watch the movies in:
The original trilogy: “A New Hope” (1977), “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), and “Return of the Jedi” (1983)
The prequel trilogy: “The Phantom Menace” (1999), “Attack of the Clones” (2002), and “Revenge of the Sith” (2005)
The sequel trilogy: “The Force Awakens” (2015), “The Last Jedi” (2017), and “The Rise of Skywalker”
Star Wars Day timeline
The world is introduced to Star Wars with the first movie “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.”
The shocking revelation of the father of Luke Skywalker creates a worldwide sensation.
A Star Wars land opens at Disney World at its Hollywood Studios location.
TV series ‘The Mandalorian’ airs on television, introducing the world to Baby Yoda.
Star Wars Day - Survey Results
Star Wars By the Numbers
2,187 – the number of the Detention Center cell in which Princess Leia is held.
$4 billion – the investment by Disney in the Star Wars franchise.
2 billion – the number of lives lost when Alderaan is destroyed by the Death Star.
6 feet, 8 inches – the height of Darth Vader.
1,000 years – the time it takes Sarlaccs to digest their food.
6 – the number of bounty hunters Darth Vader hires to ﬁnd the Millennium Falcon.
20,000+ – the midi-chlorian count in Anakin Skywalker.
2,500+ – the number of Stormtroopers assigned to Imperial Star destroyers.
12 minutes – the total time Darth Vader appears in the first movie of Star Wars.
6,000,000+ – the number of forms of communication known to C-3PO
Star Wars Day FAQs
What day is National Star Wars Day?
National Star Wars Day is celebrated on May 4 every year.
Why is May 4th called Star Wars Day?
The fact that ‘May fourth’ sounds similar to ‘May the force’ is the sole reason why fans of the “Star Wars” franchise decided that May 4 will be celebrated as Star Wars Day. They wish each other by saying “May the fourth be with you,” instead of “May the force be with you,” like in the movies.
Why do “Star Wars” fans call the day after May 4th ‘revenge’?
Taking the “Star Wars” pun further, fans started referring to May 5 as “Revenge of the Fifth,” a play on the title “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.”
Star Wars Day Activities
Start counting down
"Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge," the 14-acre Disney theme park expansion, will open at Southern California's Disneyland Resort on May 31. A second version of the "Star Wars" land will open three months later at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida.
Host a viewing party
Invite friends over for a movie marathon. (Whether you take them through the behind-the-scenes footage or not is up to you.) Hang decorations and prepare nerd-tastic snacks for the occasion.
Costumes aren’t just for Halloween. Head out in your finest rebel attire, or a themed T-shirt if that’s more your comfort zone.
Take the Star Wars Day Quiz
5 Things About Luke Skywalker That Make No Sense
Why We Love Star Wars Day
"Star Wars" creator George Lucas had the vision to imagine light sabers and holograms and various kinds of spaceships. And as generations of tech-savvy sci-fi fans grow up, we all get closer and closer to the day when those ideas become reality.
"Star Wars" has transcended the motion picture industry — attaining a pop culture importance that few books or films ever reach. Just the four "Star Wars" features Disney has released since 2015 have grossed more than $4.8 billion.
By celebrating the fictions we create, we can take a deeper pleasure in our lives. Not only that, but imagining ourselves as the heroes of our own lives puts us in a better position to effect positive changes on the world.
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Star Wars Day