How many of us even knew there was even such a thing as Star Wars Day? Well there is indeed a Star Wars day, May 4, and considering it’s so close to Cinco De Mayo, perhaps it’s a big party day for geeks.
Had I known the date, maybe I would have made plans to celebrate it myself.
We obviously can’t change Memorial Day to celebrate one of the biggest sci-fi movies in history, but that should really be a day to celebrate Star Wars, because that was the release date. It was originally considered the worst day of the year to release a movie, but when Star Wars came out and broke all records, Fox decided to release Alien on the same day two years later. Now Memorial Day is one of the most important dates for releasing a blockbuster, thanks to Star Wars.
Star Wars was a big turning point for the sci-fi genre. Like the Exorcist with horror, Star Wars was the “crossover” sci-fi movie that made the genre respectable. In fact, many of the biggest movies of all time are sci-fi, including the Terminator flicks, Will Smith blockbusters like ID4, and so many more. Before Star Wars, sci-fi was considered Saturday matinee kiddie stuff, and in the ‘70’s it was much darker with films like Logan’s Run. Star Wars made the genre enormous fun for people of all ages, and it broke ground in so many ways.
Love it or hate it, Star Wars changed everything for the movie business in both good and bad ways, and however you choose to look at it depends on whether you’re a glass half-empty or half-full kind of person. There’s been the spin for quite some time that Star Wars ruined Hollywood by making it money hungry for nothing but blockbusters, but people forget that Star Wars was a very personal film for George Lucas, and Star Wars inspired many of today’s great filmmakers to pick up a camera in the first place.
Before Star Wars came out, nobody could have predicted it would have been the greatest thing since sliced bread in a million years. Lucas and producer Gary Kurtz hoped that Star Wars would do as well as a James Bond or a Planet of the Apes movie. The idea that it could become the biggest movie of all time was unfathomable, and took everyone, including Lucas, by surprise.
So many fans have lamented that their childhood memories were spoiled by the last three Star Wars film, and the original trilogy was indeed an important part of growing up for so many of us. Personally, for me, no matter what happened to the Star Wars saga in later years, it will never ruin my fondness for the ’77 original.
Charles Lippincott, who was one of the publicists on Star Wars, told me at one of the early screenings of the film he gave out a bunch of free posters, and he saw one kid doing an imaginary light saber fight down the street after exiting the theater. Even if Star Wars doesn’t hold up for you today, you can probably still remember how awe inspiring it felt when you first saw it, and how heroic it made so many of us feel.