Childhood Memories of Saturday Morning Serials and Comic Books

Somewhere in 1950s Modesto, George Lucas was influenced by comic books, old-fashioned movie serials and the early days of television viewed at a neighbor's house. In his mind, the foundation was created for what would one day blossom into the most successful motion picture franchise in history . . .

If he had done nothing more than make the original 1977 "Star Wars," his place in cinema history would have been assured. But George Lucas created an empire of his own, which led to a revolution in filmmaking, marketing and merchandising of films and the way we watch films. After being turned down by several movie studios, including Universal, which had released "American Graffiti," it was 20th Century Fox and Alan Ladd, Jr. who took a chance on Lucas's odd space epic. The studio and its board of directors did not completely understand what Lucas was doing, but Ladd's confidence never wavered.

A Lasting Phenomenon and Film Legacy

When the film opened on 30 screens in May, 1977, it became an instant phenomenon. It is a phenomenon that has not stopped giving over the years. When Disney invested $4 billion to buy the Lucasfilm empire, "Star Wars" was the foremost reason. When the first film in the last trilogy opened, it swept away the competition and reaffirmed the dominance of the "Star Wars" legacy.

Lucasfilms, THX, Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound, Pixar, and many other companies were the result of one man's vision and his insistence that he be allowed to accomplish his ideas the way he wanted to. It was the success of "Star Wars" that made it all possible.

Time's "Star Wars" Gallery of Covers

There is no doubt that "Star Wars" is a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Anyone would be pleased to grace the cover of Time Magazine once. "Star Wars" has actually been featured on the cover at least nine times (or possibly more). Those shown here cover the many years that the film franchise has existed, up to "The Force Awakens." With a new film, "The Last Jedi" opening in December, there will undoubtedly be more covers in the future..

For over four decades, "Star Wars" has been a part of the cultural landscape - much more than just a movie the "children's" film that George Lucas still considers it.

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The Year's Best Movie

While there are a number of Time magazine covers on this page with characters from "Star Wars" movies, the one at right was the first cover to feature the film. The yellow angled banner that says: "INSIDE: The Year's Best Movie" refers to "A New Hope," the first film. The magazine is dated May 30, 1977 and includes this observation in its several pages of coverage:

"Despite the talent and the money arrayed against it, Star Wars has one clear advantage: it is simple, elemental, and therefore unique. It has a happy ending, a rarity these days. Princess Leia is saved, the Death Star is vaporized—oh, come on, you knew it all along—and Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Artoo Detoo and Threepio receive the gratitude of freedom lovers everywhere. For most audiences the only sadness in the climax is that the film ends and cannot go on and on and on. It is surely one of the swiftest two hours on celluloid."