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Star Wars A New Hope

A Long, Long Time in the Making: A Production History of the Original Star Wars Trilogy

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This month The Frida Cinema is proudly celebrating the 43rd anniversary of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi by showing the entire trilogy. The trilogy is definitely a movie-goer favorite and cult classic. It will definitely be something you will not want to miss this month! 

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars (which was also retroactively retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) was written and directed by American filmmaker George Lucas in 1977. The plot focused around the civil war between the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire. The intergalactic opera soon became a blockbuster hit despite the film having limited screenings when it was initially released on May 25, 1977. The musical score, special effects and plot made this trilogy one of the most memorable movies ever to be released. Star Wars garnered $410 million worldwide and it led to the creation of launching merchandise such as toys and clothing.

Before its success, the movie franchise was inspired by Lucas’ failure to purchase the rights to the 1936 space film Flash Gordon. Lucas was very depressed and decided that he would make his own space opera. The screen writer also drew inspiration from the Vietnam war and politics that was occuring during that time. Walt Disney Productions turned down releasing Lucas’ project and 20th Century Fox ended up distributing the film.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The Empire Strikes Back is the second film in the trilogy and the fifth chapter of the “Skywalker Saga”. The storyline was set three years after the civil war and the descruction of the Death Star. Lucas hired Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kadan to write the sequel. The sequel was also directed by Irvin Kershner since Lucas decided to focus on his company Industrial Light and Magic. Lucas did this to avoid the stress of directing but was still proactive in the film’s development.

The second film had more issues with cast experiencing injuries, illnesses and fires while on set. What was supposed to be a $8 million budget ended up being $30.5 million by the end of the movie’s production. However, once it was released on May 21,  1980 the sequel ended up being incredibly successful and earned $401.5 million that year. It won various accolades such as two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards for its musical scores and other categories.

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

This year marks the 43rd anniversary since the Return of the Jedi and its successful release on May 25, 1983. The movie’s plot takes place a year after The Empire Strikes Backwith the Galactic Empire is building another Death Star space station in order to combat and defeat the Rebel Alliance. Several directors such as Steven Spielberg, David Cronenberg and David Lynch were on the roster to potentially direct the next Star Wars installment. Richard Marquand ended up as the director for the movie and it grossed $374 internationally.

This project ended up being the most successful and highest earning film in 1983. Lucas was also a bit more involved during the production of this film due to Marquand’s inexperience with directing special effects. Casting issues arose since Harrison Ford who played Han Solo was not contracted to do two movies. Lucas negotiated with the Gersh Agency that had contracted Ford to star in Raiders of the Lost Ark and was able to cast Ford once more as Han Solo.

Needless to say, there was so much that went into producing the trilogy and continuing its legacy. Star Wars was definitely light years ahead of its time. It is one of the most memorable trilogies ever produced. I believe that everyone has at least one Star Wars memory. My older brother was a huge Star Wars fan as a kid and had figurines such as Millennium Falcon. He even had a C3PO talking case from 1996. We would watch the VHS movies together on our old box-like television set and go on the Star Tours ride at Disney Land. Definitely take time out this summer and bring a friend or three to The Frida and soar down memory lane with us!

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope screens starting Friday, July 14th.
Friday, July 14 – 3pm, 5:30pm, 8:30pm
Saturday, July 15 – 3pm, 5:30pm, 8:30pm
Sunday, July 16 – 3pm, 5:30pm, 8:30pm


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