Star Wars is an epic space opera saga and a fictional universe initially developed by George Lucas during the 1970s and expanded since that time. The first film was Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), which was released on May 25, 1977, by 20th Century Fox. Star Wars became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, spawning two sequels subtitled as The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Twenty-two years later a Star Wars prequel trilogy, set before the original Star Wars trilogy, was released.
After the release of Star Wars , other writers developed the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which includes three spin-off films, five television series and an extensive collection of Star Wars licensed books, Star Wars comics, Star Wars video games, Star Wars action figures, Star Wars trading cards, and other Star Wars merchandise, all set within the fictional Star Wars galaxy. In 2007, the overall box office revenue generated by the entire Star Wars franchise (over the course of its history) is at around US $4.3 billion, making it one of the most successful franchises of all time
The events of Star Wars take place in the fictional Star Wars galaxy. Each Star Wars film begins with an "opening crawl" of text that provides a specific context for the events of the film. In each instance, the crawl is preceded by the line, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
Many of the characters in Star Wars are essentially identical to humans. The characters commonly interact with fantastic creatures of many different types from numerous planetary systems within the Star Wars galaxy. Star Wars features elements such as magic, Jedi Knights, witches, and princesses that are related to archetypes of the fantasy genre.
The Star Wars world, unlike many science-fiction and fantasy films that featured sleek and futuristic settings, was portrayed as dirty and grimy. Lucas' vision of a "used universe" was further popularized in the science fiction-horror films Alien, which was set on a dirty space freighter; Mad Max 2, which is set in a post-apocalyptic desert; and Blade Runner, which is set in a crumbling, dirty city of the future.
Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III chronicle the downfall of the Old Republic and the Jedi Order through the machinations of the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who subsequently establishes himself as ruler of the Galactic Empire. It is also the story of Anakin Skywalker, the "Chosen One," who rises as a gifted young Jedi and is eventually seduced by Darth Sidious and the Dark Side of the Force, transforming into the Sith Lord Darth Vader.
Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI pick up after the events of Episode III, during the Galactic Civil War, a lengthy conflict in which the Galactic Empire falls to the Rebel Alliance. These Star Wars films follow the story of Luke Skywalker, the son of Anakin (now Darth Vader), his rise in the rebellion against the Empire, and his training as a Jedi. The tale ends with Luke leading his father to redemption, as well as the death of the Emperor.
Both the "original Star Wars trilogy" and the "prequel Star Wars trilogy" were each released over a period of six years (1977 – 1983 and 1999 – 2005, respectively), each Star Wars film taking two years to produce.
Marvel Comics published Star Wars comic book series and adaptations from 1977 to 1986.