World Bulletin / News Desk
The date was 1977, and no one had yet worn a copper bikini to bed, made "whooshing" lightsaber noises with a broomstick or yelled "May the Fourth be with you" at strangers.
But that was all about to change as a 33-year-old Californian filmmaker named George Walton Lucas Jr. prepared to release his third feature -- a far-fetched, slightly corny intergalactic saga of good and evil starring a sulky farm boy with daddy issues.
Jump forward 40 years and "Star Wars" has grown into the most lucrative and influential movie franchise of all time -- Princess Leia's signature side hair buns are all the rage on Halloween and Jedi is an official religion in several countries.
"I'm running out of hyperbolic adjectives to describe the power of 'Star Wars,' but that's because it is the ultimate standard-bearer," Shawn Robbins, chief analyst for BoxOffice.com, told AFP.
"Four decades of record-breaking, genre-defining entertainment across film, television, video games, toys, books and everything else the brand has touched simply speaks for itself."
With its indie flick budget of just $11 million, the brash-looking "Star Wars" opened on Wednesday, May 25, 1977 -- the anniversary falls on Thursday -- on an inauspicious 32 screens, taking in $1.6 million on its first weekend.
Bumps in the road
Starring relative newcomers Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford as swashbuckling Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo, it benefited from word-of-mouth buzz and the crowds lining up to see it quickly grew exponentially.
Its first theatrical run ended with a phenomenal $221.3 million while various reissues by 20th Century Fox brought the domestic total to more than twice that amount.
The premiere was at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, where it played to sold-out audiences five times a day for over a year, according to resident historian Levi Tinker, who told AFP the crowds literally wore out the hand-woven Chinese carpet in the lobby.
Two sequels -- "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Return of the Jedi" (1983) -- grossed more than $450 million each worldwide, but there were sizeable bumps in the road ahead.
Lucas's 1997 "special edition" reissues were met with jeers thanks to digital tweaks deemed unnecessary or downright off-putting.
Then there was the Lucas-directed 1999-2005 prequel trilogy beginning with "The Phantom Menace" -- films considered sub-par in almost every department.
The 73-year-old filmmaker -- who had struck a deal with Fox to keep 40 percent of the gross from the original movie, as well as merchandising and sequels rights -- was just as shrewd when he sold LucasFilm to Disney in 2012 for a staggering $4 billion.
The Mouse House breathed new life into "Star Wars" with the announcement of a sequel trilogy and three standalone "anthology" films, and has already added $3 billion with its first two movies to bring the total box office past $7.5 billion.
Speculation is already building over the future of the franchise with the approach of the final movies by 2020 but, long before then, fans have Rian Johnson's "The Last Jedi" -- the second of the sequels -- to look forward to in December.
It continues seamlessly from "The Force Awakens" (2015), which became one of three films in history to take $2 billion after posting the biggest domestic and worldwide debuts ever.
"'The Last Jedi' now has the potential to challenge those numbers and -- particularly given the goodwill generated by 'The Force Awakens' and 'Rogue One' -- it is set up to be an absolute monster," said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior analyst at comScore.
Jeff Bock, of Exhibitor Relations, believes the untimely death of Fisher in December will give "The Last Jedi" the same boost experienced by "Fast and Furious 7" and "The Dark Knight Rises" after the deaths of Paul Walker and Heath Ledger.
In any case, experts agree that LucasFilm is unlikely to want to let go of a franchise which can add $1-2 billion with each new release, even if fan fatigue is an ever-present threat.
"Like the universe itself, Star Wars will just keep expanding into the infinite," said Bock.
"Literally, there is no end in sight for this franchise."
Yunus Emre Institute wants to “build bridges between the two countries" director says
The sculptures that can be seen from the sky in Cappadocia are made by an Australian sculptor
The Hirka-i Serif (the Noble Cloak) was brought to Istanbul in the seventeenth century, at a time when the Ottoman Empire controlled much of the Islamic world deep into today's Saudi Arabia.
Modern humans existed 100,000 years earlier than previously thought
Returning to its former glory the kind of creation that adorns a cathedral wall or is displayed at a world-renowned museum can take more than a year for tapestry restorers at Royal Manufacturers De Wit.
Friday sees re-opening of Emperor's Mosque, 25 years after it was attacked during 1992-1995 Bosnian War
In trying to understand how the tower got its special meaning in Islamic societies, scholars have attempted—with mixed success—to trace minarets back to various traditions of tower building in the pre-Islamic cultures of Eurasia.
"Star Wars" has grown into the most lucrative and influential movie franchise of all time
With the fame and effect to the west on discoveries and creations in medicine, the book of Ibn Sina, “El-Kanun fi't-Tib” was taught in the European medical schools such as Louvain and Montpellier Universities, until the 17th century
The winner, the dhow "Zilzal," or "Earthquake," was awarded 10 million dirhams ($2.72 million).
With the beginning of the era of Japanese Renaissance, known as the era of Meiji, started in 1868, only two countries in Asia enjoyed independence, namely the Ottoman Empire and Japan.
Homo naledi is believed to have lived alongside early humans known as Homo sapiens, say scientists
Palestinians have for centuries painstakingly sewn long black dresses and adorned them with red embroidery, in designs still worn today in rural areas and at marriages and other celebrations.
Check out these amazing aerial photos taken from above during the 27th night of Ramadan in Makkah.
Millions of pages of rare manuscripts -- some centuries old -- are being put online and restored to the public domain