The “Star Wars” universe, which began exactly 40 years ago, has fans clamoring for the latest installment “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” this weekend. But the original film that launched the careers of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill wasn’t exactly on the radar of too many people when it debuted on May 25, 1977.
Director George Lucas had originally planned to complete and release his fantasy saga in December, 1976, believing it would make a good holiday film. When production ran long, the movie didn’t get released for another six months. It didn’t have much advance buzz, but word-of-mouth and repeat must-see viewings provided Lucas with the chance to still see his film play during the holiday season, albeit the following year, because it ran in theaters for a record-breaking 18 months (long before VHS tapes even existed and airings on television). During this initial run, the film took in $775 million at the box office, breaking the record set by Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” two years earlier. Spielberg would reclaim the record with “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” five years later.
To date, the original “Star Wars: A New Hope” is the only film of the franchise to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, and still holds the record among the seven movies for most Oscar nominations and wins. To celebrate the 40th anniversary, let’s take a look back at the impressive 10 nominations with these six wins (watch the original score victory above):
Best Original Score – John Williams
Best Visual Effects – John Stears, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Grant McCune, and Robert Blalack
Best Editing – Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas, and Richard Chew
Best Sound – Don McDougall, Ray West, Bob Minkler, and Derek Ball
Best Costume Design – John Mollo
Best Art Direction/Set Direction – John Barry, Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley, and Roger Christian
Ben Burtt was also given a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects, “for the creation of the alien, creature, and robot voices.
For the other four Oscar bids, Lucas lost both his Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nominations to Woody Allen for Best Picture winner “Annie Hall.” Alec Guinness received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Obi-Won Kenobi, still the only acting nomination the franchise has ever received. He lost the prize to Jason Robards for Fred Zinnemann’s “Julia.”
Just two years ago, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” became the biggest moneymaker of the Star Wars franchise, taking in over $2 billion dollars and becoming the third highest grossing film of all time behind “Avatar” and “Titanic.” It was directed by J.J. Abrams, taking over the mantle from Lucas. When factoring inflation however, it is still the 1977 original which ranks as the most commercially successful film of the series. In fact, according to the Guinness World Records, the film has taken in over $2.8 billion dollars, ranking third behind “Gone With the Wind” and “Avatar” for highest grossing film of all time.
The 2015 release featuring the original starring trio plus newcomers Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac also did well with Academy Award voters for the first time in many years. Although it had no victories, it had five nominations for film editing, original score, sound editing, sound mixing, and visual effects.
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.