Today is unofficially Star Wars Day! May the fourth be with you. But did you know the phrase made its first appearance on May 4, 1979 – which is the day Maggie Thatcher took office as Prime Minister in the UK?
An advertisement in a newspaper said: “May the fourth be with you, Maggie.”
I wonder if George Lucas had any indication of what he was starting when he released that first film way back in 1977.
That was 42 years ago, probably before most Star Wars fans today were born.
Other aspects of the franchise have been embraced by society, with light saber combat becoming a fully fledged sport.
SpaceX named its Falcon rocket after Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon and, weirdest of all, the Jedi have spawned a religion – with Jediism now having well over one million followers worldwide.
No other film franchise has had such a widespread impact as Star Wars.
James Bond has created a desire to drive an Aston Martin and have your martinis shaken, not stirred; Star Trek has given us the Klingon language and personal communicators; and there has even been a version of Quidditch, from Harry Potter, devised complete with broomsticks.
But these have just not quite reached the heights of Luke, Leia, Yoda and Darth.
A successful film franchise not only generates a huge amount of money, it creates its own universe.
While Star Wars has been in existence for over 40 years, others like James Bond and Batman have been around even longer.
The first Bond film was Dr No in 1962 and the first Batman film was in 1966.
We have also picked up a number of iconic phrases over time, such as: “No Mr Bond, I expect you to die”, “beam me up Scotty” and “I’ll be back”.
The most iconic phrase is the one at the top of this article and likely originated from Master Yoda, who also gave us: “Powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you.”
When movie makers run out of books and have reached the natural end of a franchise, they are reluctant to let it go – especially if it’s a money maker.
New writers are hired to create new stories in the same style as the original author.
There have been 24 James Bond films, but Ian Fleming only wrote 14 stories.
The creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, died in 1991 – but there have been seven films and a number of TV series created since then. Film series are a lot easier to make: you already have the main characters and you know the public love them and will pay to see more.
No wonder the film studios throw massive amounts of money at them.
Try to get investment for a new film, which is a complete new story with new characters and settings. That’s a risk.
The only way to make such films is to keep them low budget, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
We have had many amazing low budget films. Among the best have been Mad Max, Rocky, The Full Monty and the ultimate horror movie, The Blair Witch Project.
Then there are the huge television projects, but that’s a different kettle of dragons.