This Is How Big Star Wars Was in the 70s and 80s

Pubblicato: 18 dicembre 2015 in cinema

Star Wars may have started as a crazy idea from George Lucas, but it quickly became a pop culture juggernaut, on a level that might be hard to understand for anyone who didn’t watch it happen.

Fans line up to see Star Wars on opening day in San Francisco.

Photo: by Gary Fong/San Francisco Chronicle/Polaris.

Late-night TV appearances are de rigeuer now for anyone with a movie to promote, but the photogenic and newly famous Star Wars cast was especially good at dominating the ariwaves, as with this appearance by Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill on The Mike Douglas Show in July of 1977. Proof of what a different world it was then? Other guests that night included Mummenschanz, a mime group.
It’s hard to remember a time when Star Wars wasn’t one of the biggest movies of all time, but before it could get there, it had to surpass Jaws, which had become the highest-grossing film of all time just two years before. Luckily, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were good enough pals that this generous Variety ad was Spielberg‘s way of marking the occasion.
Who better than two non-human droids to instruct the parents of the 70s on how to care for their disease-prone younglings?
Behold: an instrumental disco adaptation of the Star Wars theme that reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on October 1, 1977, and is certified platinum. The music video is even stranger than all of these facts suggest.
Star Wars opened on May 25, but a full four months later Donnie and Marie Osmond couldn’t resist dressing up as Luke and Leia and inviting R2-D2 on their show. The modern summer-blockbuster system, in which gigantic movies are almost immediately replaced with the next big thing, didn’t exist yet.

Photo: From ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images.

Natalie Wood at the 1978 Oscars, next to Darth Vader. Neither won that night, though Star Wars did win six statues, including one for composer John Williams.

Photo: by Ron Galella/WireImage.

Star Wars may have been cool, but not cool enough to avoid a goofy holiday special that has become the stuff of astonished legend among nerds. Even Bruce Vilanch, put in charge of writing the thing, thought George Lucas’s vision for the special was a terrible idea; as he told Vanity Fair in 2008, “Star Wars was so gigantic that he had been validated a hundred times over. So he had what a director needs to have, which is this insane belief in their personal vision, and he was somehow going to make it work.” Somehow, the franchise survived the embarrassment to continue being a pop-culture juggernaut.

Photo: Both by CBS/Getty Images.

A few months before the gang returned for The Empire Strikes Back, in 1980, they crashed The Muppet Show, and brought us the now-classic “Pigs in Space.”

Photo: From Everett Collection.

“A new force at breakfast,” promised the TV ads for this 1984 product, which actually featured poor C-3PO shilling for his own breakfast cereal. Even a year after the release of Return of the Jedi, and no more films in sight, Star Wars licensing was going strong.
Nearly 30 years after Return of the Jedi, George Lucas and Harrison Ford re-unite on the set of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. (Photographed with them is Kathleen Kennedy, now the head of Lucasfilm and mastermind behind the new series of Star Wars films.) But look closely at Lucas’s shirt—it says “Han Shot First,” and the angry nerds of the Internet can explain that sentence far better than we can. The shirt isn’t just proof that Lucas has a sense of humor about himself and the controversial changes he’s made to Star Wars over the years; it’s also proof of how much Star Wars continued to matter many decades after it first debuted.

Photo: © Paramount/From Everett Collection.

Sorgente: This Is How Big Star Wars Was in the 70s and 80s | Vanity Fair

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