Why Star Wars Actually Matters
an Editorial for My Movie Thoughts (and English Essay…) by, John Hayeck
In the 2001 census, the necessary number of people listed “the Force” as their subscribed belief system for Jediism to now legally be listed as a legitimate religion. (“Jedi Makes the Census List”) As a fan of movies since childhood, I am very much looking forward to this month’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As my passion for film has grown over the years, I have discovered more of the impressive social impact that the Star Wars franchise has on all of its fans and the world as a whole, the Jediism faith being just one example. In looking further at this overall impact, the original Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983) strongly influenced the future of film to come after it, and the prequel trilogy (1999-2005) established a line of strategic merchandising incomparable to any other series. These two accomplishments are in a class of their own, and are just two of the many achievements that helped Star Wars take over the galaxy.
Jon Favreau (director of Iron Man and Elf) stated to The Huffington Post, “Star Wars introduced me to the hero’s journey as it applies to storytelling. I was familiarized with classic archetypes through characters in the film.” Simon Pegg (writer of Hot Fuzz and Star Trek Beyond) said, “it inspired my imagination and sparked my appreciation of filmmaking.” (Ryan) These talents are only two among hundreds in the entertainment world who were undoubtedly affected by the original Star Wars film(s). In addition to inspiring countless filmmakers, the space opera also changed the landscape of how films were made. The idea of a ‘trilogy’ was unheard of before Return of the Jedi. The notion of a three-episode movie would set a standard for many popular franchises going forward. The original Star Wars was also amongst the first films to use computer-generated special effects, as mechanical toys and puppets were the norm prior to 1977. (“The 10 Ways Star Wars Changed the Movie Industry.”) In addition to this, the green screen was used for the first time in the producing Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back to portray the spaceships in the films in an immersive format unlike any ever seen before. This influence of the original films on filmmakers, as well as their impact on the art of filmmaking is still a feat to be marveled at in this new and evolving age of cinema.
In addition to a profound impact on film, the Star Wars franchise, particularly the prequel film trilogy, led to mass merchandising based upon the films. After the original trilogy’s release, some action figures, lunchboxes and other items based upon the series were up for sale. However, following the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 1999, dozens of video games and toys were announced to tie in to the film. 20th Century Fox also made deals with Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Frito-Lay that promoted the film and raised billions of dollars for Fox and the food companies. Following the high demand for toys and games, even beyond film releases, the Star Wars name became one of the highest selling toy brands in history. (Block) To this day, Star Wars has sold about 12 billion toy units and has accumulated over $3.5 billion on video game purchases. (“Star Wars Total Franchise Revenue.”) Nowadays, nearly every movie produced by a major studio will have fast food tie-in promotions and at least one video game or toy line based off of it.
The Star Wars franchise is unlike any other. The original trilogy of movies inspired film as we know it today, and the trilogy of prequels led to one of the most successful franchising campaigns in history. The most remarkable feat of the series, though, is that it continues to break records today. On October 19th, 2015, pre-sale tickets went on sale for this year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Online ticketing website Fandango crashed minutes after the beginning of sales due to high demand. In the following days, it was reported that The Force Awakens surpassed Fandango’s previous 24-hour pre-sale record by eight times in the first two hours of ticket availability. (D’Alessandro) The franchise continues to make a dent in history and demonstrates the importance of fandom, and ultimately the power of a fan’s faith in the Force.
- “Jedi Makes the Census List.” BBC News. BBC, 09 Oct. 2001. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.
- Ryan, Mike. “‘Star Wars’ 35th Anniversary: Jon Favreau, Eli Roth & 13 Other Filmmakers On How George Lucas’ Classic Influenced Them.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 24 May 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.
- “The 10 Ways Star Wars Changed the Movie Industry.” Time. Time Inc., 24 May 2007. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
- Block, Alex Ben. “The Real Force Behind ‘Star Wars’: How George Lucas Built an Empire.” The Hollywood Reporter. N.p., 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
- “Star Wars Total Franchise Revenue.” Statistic Brain. Statistic Brain Research Institute, 21 Oct. 2015. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
- D’Alessandro, Anthony. “‘Star Wars: Force Awakens’ Advance Sales Blowing Up: Imax Counts $6.5M; Fandango, Movietickets & AMC Break Records – Update.” Deadline. Penske Business Media, 20 Oct. 2015. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
So let me know what you guys think! You can’t help but see the impact that this franchise has, despite whatever your opinions are on one or more of the films! And as always, thanks for reading guys.