Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first film in the original Star Wars trilogy and the beginning of the Star Wars franchise. Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Peter Mayhew, the film focuses on the Rebel Alliance, led by Princess Leia (Fisher), and its attempt to destroy the Galactic Empire’s space station, the Death Star.
Star Wars was released in theatres in the United States on May 25, 1977. It earned $461 million in the U.S. and $314 million overseas, totaling $775 million. It surpassed Jaws (1975) to become the highest-grossing film of all time until the release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). When adjusted for inflation, Star Wars is the second-highest-grossing film in North America, and the third-highest-grossing film in the world. It received ten Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture), winning seven. It was among the first films to be selected as part of the U.S. Library of Congress’s National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. At the time, it was the most recent film on the registry and the only one chosen from the 1970s. In 2005, the British Film Institute included it in their list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14. Its soundtrack was added to the U.S. National Recording Registry in 2004. Today, it is regarded as one of the most important films in the history of motion pictures. It launched an industry of tie-in products, including spin-off TV series, novels, comic books, video games, amusement park attractions, and merchandise including toys, games, and clothing.
The film has been reissued multiple times at Lucas’s behest, incorporating many changes including modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, re-edited shots, remixed soundtracks and added scenes. The film’s success led to two critically and commercially successful sequels, The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983, and later to a prequel trilogy, a sequel trilogy, and two anthology films.