Star Wars



Star Wars is a science fantasy saga and fictional galaxy created by writer / producer / director George Lucas during the 1970s. The saga began with the film Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), which was released on May 25, 1977, by 20th Century Fox. The film became a pop culture worldwide phenomenon - spawning five more feature films , three spin-off films, five television series and an extensive collection of licensed books, comics, video games, and other products - all of which are set within a fictional "galaxy far, far away."

An example of the space opera genre, the Star Wars story employs archetypal motifs common to both science fiction and mythology, as well as the romantic music motifs now often associated with those genres.

Although The Ewok Adventure, later renamed Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, played in theaters in Europe and Australia and is technically a Star Wars feature film, it is generally associated with television, therefore it is covered in the television section below.

Unlike the traditional science fiction films preceding it, the Star Wars world was initially portrayed as dirty and grimy, rather than sleek and futuristic. In interviews, Lucas tells of rubbing the new props with dirt to make them look weather-worn, a concept he has referred to as "a used or ancient future", a concept further popularized in the film Alien of the same era. He may have been inspired by Sergio Leone, whose 1960s films performed a similar function for the Western genre. It is also possible that he may have received the idea from Akira Kurosawa, who believed that it gave his actors a more authentic look.

Each Star Wars film opens with the text, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...." Lucas intended this as an allusion to the classic fairy tale opening of, "Once upon a time, in a faraway land..." This is the only way the Star Wars Galaxy has been defined in relation to the real world. To some, Lucas's allusion suggests that the films are to be interpreted as allegorical and metaphorical narratives of the future, rather than literal events of the past. Lucas intentionally left the details open to interpretation. Events occur in the Star Wars galaxy; although the film series itself spans the events of only two generations, other stories set in the Star Wars universe (those from the so-called "Expanded Universe") cover events that span millennia.

The Star Wars films use an opening text to provide the audience with the background to the story. Lucas emulated the Flash Gordon serials by having his opening text "crawl" up the screen from bottom to top at a high pitched angle, as if the text were disappearing into the distant starscape. Also in all Star Wars films, a starship of some kind whooshes by after the crawl disappears completely. In a May 15, 2005, interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Lucas described the creation of the distinctive crawl: "The crawl is such a hard thing because you have to be careful that you're not using too many words that people don't understand. It's like a poem. I showed the very first crawl to a bunch of friends of mine in the '70s. It went on for six paragraphs with four sentences each. Brian De Palma was there, and he threw his hands up in the air and said, 'George, you're out of your mind! Let me sit down and write this for you.' He helped me chop it down into the form that exists today."

The saga shows us a very "ancient" galactic civilization thousands of years old. The setting is totally unrelated to Earth or our galaxy, which gives it more liberty, in a sense. The Star Wars Galaxy prominently features aliens who are essentially identical to humans. Their civilization was able to develop space travel, terraform, build ecumenopolises and build space colonies 200,000 years "ago."

Star Wars melds science with supernatural elements that strongly relate to epic stories and fairy tales (for example, magic, knights, witches, princesses and 'whimsical' alien races such as Ewoks and Gungans). The scope of Star Wars history spans over 5,100 years among all the Star Wars fiction produced so far (from Tales of the Jedi to Star Wars: Legacy), even though the films span only two generations. Later novels from a series dubbed New Jedi Order opened up the Star Wars setting with alien beings named Yuuzhan Vong that came from a different galaxy. Most aliens prior to this series came from the one galaxy in which the films are set.

Episodes I, II, and III (the Clone Wars) chronicle the downfall of the Old Republic and the rise of the Galactic Empire. It is also the story of Anakin Skywalker's rise as a gifted young Jedi (the chosen one) and his eventual fall to the Dark Side of the Force. In the first film, Darth Sidious manipulates the Trade Federation into invading and occupying the planet Naboo. Sidious concurrently maintains his public identity as Palpatine, a senator in the Galactic Republic, and uses the crisis to convince the Senate to elect him as Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. He then, in the second film, further manipulates the Senate into granting him emergency powers and orchestrates the Clone Wars, a conflict between the Republic (which he controls as Chancellor Palpatine) and a Separatist movement (which he controls as Darth Sidious).

Meanwhile, a young boy named Anakin Skywalker, incredibly strong with the Force, is discovered by Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn. Qui-Gon believes Anakin is the Chosen One, prophesied to bring balance to the Force. When Qui-Gon is killed by Sith Lord Darth Maul, it is left to his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi to train the boy. Anakin grows powerful with the Force, and his skill causes him to become arrogant and chafe against Obi-Wan's training, which he feels is restrictive. Against the strictest rules of the Jedi Order, Anakin falls in love with Padmé Amidala, queen and later senator of Naboo. The two wed in secret, since attachment is forbidden for a Jedi, as it can create a fear of loss that can lead to the Dark Side of the Force. The Clone Wars begin to rage through every part of the known galaxy, and the Jedi fight tirelessly to bring peace back to the Republic. Anakin and Padmé continue to keep their marriage a secret, but soon Padmé becomes pregnant. Although thrilled by the news, Anakin begins to have visions of Padmé's death. The secretive nature of their relationship forces him to seek help outside of the Jedi order, and he desperately asks Senator Palpatine (secretly Darth Sidious) for help. Sidious seizes this opportunity to tempt Anakin to the Dark Side, promising that Padmé can be saved if he joins the Sith. Tragically, Anakin is still unable to save Padmé, and becomes indirectly responsible for causing her death. By this point it is too late and Anakin has now become the Sith Lord Darth Vader who goes on to hunt down and destroy all the remaining Jedi in the galaxy. Padmé dies giving birth to twins, whom she names Luke and Leia. The twins are given to two separate willing parties for safety: Luke to Anakin's stepbrother Owen Lars and his wife Beru on Tatooine; Leia to Senator Bail Organa and his wife on the planet Alderaan. Obi Wan-Kenobi and Yoda, the last remaining Jedi, exile themselves, Obi-Wan on Tatooine (presumably to watch over Luke), Yoda on the bog-like world of Dagobah. Sidious (as Palpatine) declares himself emperor and turns the Galactic Republic into the First Galactic Empire.

Episodes IV, V, and VI (the Galactic Civil War) pick up approximately nineteen years after the events of Episode III, during the Galactic Civil War, which leads to the downfall of the Galactic Empire at the hands of the Rebel Alliance. These films follow the story of Luke Skywalker, the son of Anakin Skywalker, and his rise in the rebellion against the Empire. Leia, now a princess and a member of the Imperial Senate, sends a message for help to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke inadvertently intercepts the message and meets Kenobi. After the murder of his aunt and uncle by Imperial Stormtroopers, Luke joins the ragtag Rebel Alliance — traveling with Kenobi, his sister Leia Organa (who he does not realize is his sister until later, in Episode VI), smuggler Han Solo and his friend Lando Calrissian, Solo's Wookiee companion Chewbacca, and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2.

He trains with Kenobi and subsequently Yoda to become a Jedi like his father, who he believes was betrayed and murdered by Darth Vader. When Luke learns the truth — that his father is Darth Vader — he is profoundly shaken. Despite this, Luke successfully resists the efforts of Vader and Palpatine to turn him to the Dark Side and, instead, succeeds in turning his father back to the Light Side of the Force. Vader, having turned from the Dark Side, then kills Emperor Palpatine in order to save his son, but is mortally wounded in the process. Meanwhile, the Rebel fleet scores a decisive victory against the Empire by destroying the second Death Star. The Rebel Alliance's victory eventually leads to the end of the Galactic Civil War and the downfall of the Empire.

George Lucas embraces a style of epic storytelling that uses motifs, common themes and concepts which he alters slightly each time they occur. The concept is lifted from Romantic (early 19th century) music, but Lucas applies it both visually and as an integral part of his storytelling.

On a larger scale, there are many parallels between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy; the stories of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker echo and reflect each other in myriad ways.

The Force is one of the most recognizable elements of the Star Wars series. It is described by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars film as, "An energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together."

Those who can use the Force, such as the Jedi, can perform feats of telepathy, psychokinesis, prescience, clairvoyance, and mental control. Two aspects of the Force are emphasized: the light side and the dark side. The light side of the Force is the facet aligned with good, benevolence, and healing. The dark side of the Force is aligned with fear, hatred, aggression, and malevolence. The dark side seems more powerful, especially to those who use it, because it is driven by rage and hatred — its effects are more direct and easier and faster to achieve. In reality, neither the light nor the dark side of the Force is stronger than the other, each possessing its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the dark side conveys an inherent disadvantage to its users, which is arrogance and overconfidence in their own abilities. However, this aggression allows its acolytes to become more formidable warriors — illustrated when Luke is able to finally overcome his father in battle because of his anger at the thought of his sister turning to the dark side. On the other hand, Jedi can occasionally become crippled by their compassion and act "soft." This is balanced by an ability to remain calm even in extreme circumstances.

Many different influences have been suggested for the Star Wars films by fans, critics, and George Lucas himself. For example, Lucas acknowledges that the plot and characters in the 1958 Japanese film The Hidden Fortress, directed by Akira Kurosawa, were a major inspiration. Lucas has said in an interview, which is included on the DVD edition of The Hidden Fortress, that the movie influenced him to tell the story of Star Wars from the viewpoint of the humble droids, rather than a major player. It also played a role in the conception of Darth Vader, whose trademark black helmet intentionally resembles the black kabuto of the arch-villain in Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai. The Jedi, nearly extinct futuristic knights of the former Republic, also have a high influence from the Samurai as spiritual warriors and duelists with a strong sense of honor and devotion to their duty. Their traditional clothing even resembles kimonos.

Prior to writing the script for Star Wars, George Lucas originally wanted to make a film of Flash Gordon. The rights for Flash Gordon, however, were held by Dino De Laurentiis, and Lucas decided to work on his own science fiction project instead.

Another influence in Lucas's creation of Star Wars was the writings of Joseph Campbell. Campbell's work explored the supposed common meanings, structures, and purposes of the world's mythologies. Lucas has stated that his intention was to create in Star Wars a "modern mythology" based on Campbell's work. The original Star Wars film, episode IV, for example, closely followed the archetypal "hero's journey", as described in Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This influence was discussed by Bill Moyers and Campbell in the PBS mini-series, The Power of Myth and by Lucas and Moyers in the 1999 program, Mythology of Star Wars with George Lucas & Bill Moyers. In addition, the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution sponsored an exhibit during the late 1990s called Star Wars: The Magic of Myth which discussed the ways in which Campbell's work shaped the Star Wars films. A companion guide of the same name was published in 1997.

It is thought that the setting for the Star Wars universe came from Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, published in the early 1950s. This saga also involves a galaxy teeming with inhabited worlds held together by a collapsing galactic empire using hyperdrives (for long-distance transportation). It also features the planet Trantor, which is entirely covered by the galaxy's capital, similar to Coruscant, and the protagonist of Foundation and Empire is Lathan Devers, a character resembling Han Solo. Even lightsabers have precursors in the The Foundation Trilogy as force field penknives. The planet Korrell is thought to be the basis of the planet Corellia.

It is often argued that Star Wars was influenced by Frank Herbert's classic science fiction book Dune. Many elements of Star Wars are also evident in Dune. There are so many similarities, in fact, some Dune devotees consider Star Wars little more than a campy film adaptation of Herbert's work. While this is likely an exaggeration, many of the similarities are striking. For example, both Dune and Star Wars are set on desert planets. Both stories feature a mystical knighthood of sorts — the Jedi in Star Wars and the Fremen of Dune. In both stories the hero is a messiah-like character, uses mystical powers, exhibits mind control (Jedi mind trick/the Voice), and duels opponents with sword-like weapons. Finally, both stories describe a corrupt empire and the hero's efforts to overcome it.

Some comic book fans have drawn parallels between Star Wars and Jack Kirby’s epic Fourth World series, published by DC Comics. The cosmos-spanning series of titles was never completed because DC canceled it, citing low sales. At the heart of the series was the battle between Orion of the New Gods and his villainous father, Darkseid (pronounced “dark side.”) Orion called upon the mystical force known as "the source" to aid him in this struggle. The Death Star is somewhat reminiscent of Apokolips, Darkseid’s home planet. Likewise, Darkseid's headpiece is similar in structure to Vader's.

Furthermore, Orion, like Luke Skywalker, was separated from his evil father at birth, growing up ignorant of his true parentage. Also like Skywalker, Orion was mentored by an old man who carried a staff and was far more powerful than his appearance suggested; the Highfather. Finally, both Orion and Skywalker are forced to struggle not only against their biological father's dreams of universal conquest but also against their own inner darkness.

Also, Darth Vader shares some visual similarities with Kirby’s armored über-villain Dr. Doom, co-created with editor/scripter Stan Lee at Marvel Comics.

The Star Wars saga has also been influenced by historical events; Lucas claims to have drawn on ancient Rome, World War II and the Vietnam War for inspiration. The reference to the historical past can be seen with Lucas's use of 'stormtroopers', commonly associated with the stormtroopers of World War I Germany and Nazi Germany, and also associated with the SS under Hitler in World War II. These troopers acted as the Nazi party’s military force, under Hitler’s direct control. Similarly, the stormtroopers of Star Wars acted as the Empire’s military force, under Palpatine’s direct control. Lucas also based the space battles in A New Hope on World War II-era aerial dog fights. The rise of Palpatine mirrors Hitler in that a democracy becomes an empire.

The Star Wars saga began with a 14-page treatment for a space adventure movie that Lucas drafted in 1973, inspired by multiple myths and classical narratives. According to one source, Lucas initially wrote summaries for fifteen stories that would make up the Star Wars saga. Out of these fifteen stories, Lucas originally planned to film only one of them as a feature film. Then, in 1978, following the success of the first released Star Wars film, he publicly announced that he would create a total of twelve films to chronicle the adventures of Luke Skywalker (in the original scripts, the character’s name was Luke Starkiller). In 1979, Lucas retracted his former statement, saying that he would instead make nine films. Four years later, having completed Return of the Jedi, Lucas announced that he was putting Star Wars on indefinite hold until special-effects technology had improved to his satisfaction. Finally, in 1995, (after seeing the effects results of ILM's work on Jurassic Park) Lucas decided that he would produce the trilogy of prequels (Episodes I, II, and III), for a total of six films. He also claimed at the time that he had always envisioned "the whole thing as a series of six films".

Other sources, including publicly available draft scripts of Star Wars, show that Lucas had an incomplete and quickly-changing conception of the Star Wars story up until the release of the first film in 1977. Story elements such as the Kaiburr crystal present in early scripts are missing entirely in the films, while names were freely exchanged between different planets and characters — "Organa Major" being the original name for Alderaan, for instance (Organa later became Princess Leia's surname). Even as late as the production of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, there were significant differences from the films which emerged — for example, Lando Calrissian being a clone from the Clone Wars and the climactic battle of Return of the Jedi taking place against two Death Stars orbiting the Imperial capital planet, then known as Had Abbadon. Another version of the Return of the Jedi script had Luke turning to the dark side after killing Darth Vader. Leia would then become the next Jedi to fight the dark side. This did not happen, however, because Lucas felt that the ending would be too dark, especially for children, who were a major target audience. Also, George Lucas had the script of The Empire Strikes Back saying that "Obi-Wan killed your father," all the while having the "I am your father" line in mind. Since Darth Vader's voice was overdubbed by James Earl Jones, the true line was revealed in post-production. In addition, the story released as the novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye was intended as a possible direction for a low-budget Star Wars sequel — however, the success of A New Hope allowed Lucas to pursue the more ambitious The Empire Strikes Back instead.

Lucas has been criticized for allegedly deviating from his original conception of the universe that was introduced in the original 1977 film. It has been theorized by some that developments in the later films, including (but not limited to) the revelation of Darth Vader as the father of Luke Skywalker, the revelation of Princess Leia as Luke's sister, and the progression of Darth Vader from a powerful lackey serving under Grand Moff Tarkin to a much-feared military leader answerable only to the Emperor (as well as the overall Star Wars Saga's shift in focus from Luke to Vader as the main character) go completely against the history/characters/relationships that were established in the original 1977 film. The Star Wars prequel trilogy has also been accused of similar retroactive changes that were allegedly not part of Lucas' original concept for Star Wars.

For his part, Lucas claimed in a segment filmed for the THX-remastered VHS release of the original trilogy that the original Star Wars story was intended as a single film but was later split into three because the story was too long to be told in a single film. In the DVD commentaries for the original trilogy, Lucas claims that many story elements were changed within the production of the films — for instance, the attack on the Death Star in A New Hope was moved from the end of the trilogy in order to strengthen A New Hope on its own merits, while the character of Chewbacca established the Wookiees as a technologically advanced race, necessitating their replacement with Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. Other changes, including the death of Obi-Wan in A New Hope, were made during the filming. Lucas also stated in the commentaries that the prequel stories existed only as "notes" explaining the backstories of characters such as Obi-Wan. In an interview with Wired prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, Lucas remarked that he had allowed the publication of novels written as sequels to the films because he would never make the sequels himself.

Lucas's history of different statements regarding his future and past plans for the Star Wars saga have caused a great deal of popular confusion, while drawing criticism from some. For example, some still believe that Lucas's original plan was for a "trilogy of trilogies," based on early statements made by Lucasfilm regarding sequels.

It has been reported that Lucas's original script was almost 500 pages long. The title, originally The Adventures of Luke Starkiller, was changed several times before becoming Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

The Star Wars film series was shot in an original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The "original trilogy" was shot with anamorphic lenses (Episodes IV and V were shot in Panavision, while Episode VI was shot in J.D.C. scope), while Episode I was shot in Arriscope film format, and Episodes II and III were shot with Sony's CineAlta high-definition digital camera.

There were countless problems during the production of Episode IV, and few critics expected the film to achieve the measure of success it did. Many problems with effects, editing, funding, and shooting caused the film to be pushed back from its expected release date of December 1976. The production company, not to mention many involved in the actual production, had little faith in the movie. According to reports, it was a daily struggle merely to complete the film on time. Despite these difficulties, the first film was released on May 25, 1977, and became a surprise hit. Though its novelization had hit the shelves six months earlier, the book had not seen nearly the amount of interest that the film would draw.

Episodes IV, V, and VI were shot at, among other locations, Elstree Studios, in Hertfordshire, England. The outdoor scenes from the ice planet Hoth in Episode V were shot at Finse, Norway. Also, one shot of the Rebel Base on Yavin IV in Episode IV was of Mayan temples in Tikal, Guatemala. The Phantom Menace was filmed at Leavesden Film Studios and the subsequent prequels were filmed in Sydney, Australia. Tunisia, and the sand dunes of Yuma, Arizona, have served as the location for filming scenes set on the desert planet Tatooine in A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Italy's Caserta Palace was used to create the Theed palace on Queen Amidala's home planet, Naboo, and some scenes were also shot at Italy's Lake Como.

Both the "original trilogy" and the "prequel trilogy" were released over a period of six years (1977–1983 and 1999–2005, respectively), each movie taking two years to produce.

The scores for all six Star Wars films were composed by John Williams. Lucas's intentions for Star Wars involved a grand musical sound, with leitmotifs for different characters and important objects; an approach used to great effect, for instance, in the operas of Richard Wagner. Toward this end, Lucas put together a collection of classical and Romantic pieces for composer Williams to review, as an idea of what effects Lucas desired for the films. The music Williams composed was often distinctly reminiscent of the original pieces. Williams' score for Star Wars in 1977 set a new standard for science fiction films by drawing its inspiration primarily from a palette of Romantic symphonies, rather than creating completely new music (in choosing this classical approach, Williams was following the lead of 2001: A Space Odyssey and a mix-tape of Wagnerian opera and other selections compiled by George Lucas.) Although Williams had already established himself as a film composer with scores for blockbusters such as The Poseidon Adventure and Jaws, the Star Wars score gave him international recognition.

Williams' scores for the original trilogy were primarily motif-based: individual characters and settings were each given their own, unique musical theme which would identify their presence in the film, whether physically or figuratively. By combining and varying these motifs, Williams could create a score possessed of a rich, interwoven fabric.

By the time of the prequel trilogy, however, Williams had grown and changed as a composer. His new scores de-emphasized motifs, tending to weave them subtly into a broader and more dynamic musical composition. He had also expanded his use of thematic motifs, using the technique to highlight the emotional or archetypal structure of the film, rather than the more literal associations to character and setting used in the earlier scores.

In 1997, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi were re-mastered and theatrically re-released as the "Special Editions." It was one of the first films series to be re-mastered in this way, and the trend of re-mastering and re-releasing films has proven to be extremely successful and many other movies and series have followed suit. For the re-release, in addition to extensive clean-up and restoration work, Lucas also made several changes to the films in order to "finish the film the way it was meant to be" (as Lucas said in a September 2004 interview with the Associated Press). Many of Lucas' changes for the Special Editions were cosmetic, generally adding special effects which were not originally possible. Other changes, however, are considered to have affected plot or character development. These changes, such as the change often referred to by fans as "Han shot first," have proven to be controversial, inciting considerable criticism of George Lucas by fans, and was one of the first causes of what came to be known as Lucas bashing.

In 2004, in addition to an extensive and comprehensive hi-definition digital cleanup and restoration job by Lowry Digital, the original films were changed once again for their release on DVD. In these new versions of the films, in addition to new scenes and major image adjustments designed to make the films visually resemble the prequels, a few changes which had been made for the 1997 Special Editions were removed. With this release, Lucasfilm created a new high-definition master of the films, which will be used in future releases as well.

Although the original films have undergone significant alterations over the years, the prequel films have received only minor changes from their theatrical versions. The DVD releases of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith have had such elements altered as small additions of scenes, touch-ups in effects, and small sound changes.

For many years, Lucas has stated that the original, unaltered versions of the trilogy would never be released again, having been released for the last time on VHS and Laserdisc in 1995. However, on May 3, 2006, Lucasfilm announced on the official Star Wars site that due to "overwhelming demand", the original versions would be released on DVD on September 12, 2006. Each film was released as a two-disc set with the 2004 versions of the films on one disc, and the original, unaltered film on the second disc, as a bonus feature. The set is only available until December 31, 2006, then will be withdrawn from the market.

There has been controversy surrounding this release, since it was revealed that the DVDs featured non-anamorphic versions of the original, unaltered films based on laserdisc releases from 1993 (as opposed to newly-remastered, film-based transfers). Since non-anamorphic transfers fail to make full use of the resolution available on widescreen sets, many fans were upset over this choice.

At a ShoWest convention in 2005, George Lucas demonstrated new technology and stated that he planned to release all six films in a new 3-D film format, beginning with A New Hope in 2007.

Additionally, Lucas has hinted in the past that he will release his definitive (often called "archival") editions of all six of his Star Wars films on a next-generation home-video format in 2007. This release would coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Star Wars saga. It has been speculated that he will take this opportunity to make any final adjustments, changes, additions, and/or subtractions to his films for this final release. An altered clip from The Phantom Menace included in a featurette on the DVD release of Revenge of the Sith (in which a computer generated Yoda replaces the original puppet) appears to be a sign that the "archival" editions are indeed in the works.

It is said that this edition will be released in a "Grand Saga" box set. Lucasfilm Vice President of Marketing Jim Ward confirmed that in this final release, Lucasfilm is likely to return to John Lowry to do even more work on the films (possibly digital contemporization of the original trilogy). He says, "As the technology evolves and we get into a high-definition platform that is easily consumable by our customers, the situation is much better, but there will always be work to be done."

Producer Rick McCallum has also explained that Lucasfilm has been holding back a large amount of bonus material for this release, including deleted scenes, as well as numerous previous Star Wars "making-ofs," spin-offs, television specials, documentaries, and other special material.

There has been much hope for another Star Wars trilogy but George Lucas has said that there are no plans for episodes 7, 8, and 9.

Aside from pay-per-view cable showings, the original Star Wars movie (Episode IV) first saw TV release in 1983 on all the major pay-cable networks (HBO, Showtime, etc.). CBS had exclusive network rights when it aired on commercial television one year later, and continued on CBS for several years. The remaining films in the original trilogy also made their cable rounds (pay-per-view, premium cable) before airing on network television (NBC acquired the original network rights to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi). In 1992, the Sci-Fi Channel became the first U.S. network to air the three then-existing episodes in the saga. Sci-Fi retained TV rights until 1996, in preparation for the theatrical release of the "Special Editions" of the original trilogy. In 1998, a year after the SE releases, Showtime acquired limited one-month premium cable rights to the "Special Edition" of Star Wars for airing in January. It continued on broadcast stations, including superstations TBS and WGN, for several years after).

In 1999, to promote Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the remaining "Special Edition" films (V and VI) aired on U.S. broadcast network Fox (they bypassed pay-per-view and premium cable for direct broadcast airing). That same year, Fox acquired all television rights to Episode I after the premium cable networks declined due to cost. A similar situation nearly happened with Attack of the Clones, until HBO struck a last-minute deal with Fox and Lucasfilm for the exclusive pay-cable rights. Episode II, like its predecessor, never saw prior pay-per-view cable release, but it did run on HBO and sister network Cinemax during its 18-month term of license. The Fox network acquired the U.S. network television rights. In April/May 2005, to promote the then-upcoming Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Episodes I, IV, V, and VI were placed in limited syndicated television distribution, while the Fox network was able to air Episode II in mid-May, prior to Episode III's initial theatrical release.

During negotiations for the cable rights to Episode II, HBO/Cinemax also struck a first-look deal for Episode III, which they accepted and is currently on its initial 18-month term of license (it was also the only Star Wars film to see any pay-per-view cable issue). In addition, the Time Warner-owned networks were able to win the right to become the first U.S. television network system (cable or broadcast) to air all six films in the saga, and Cinemax will air them beginning November 2006 in High Definition. The six films will also be repeated on HBO in High Defenition. The versions of Episodes IV, V, and VI that will be aired will be the 2004 DVD Special Editions, as they are the current canonical versions. In the UK, Sky purchased the rights to air all six movies in August 2006, becoming the first English-language television network to air all six films, which will be aired in order of release, beginning with the original Episode IV. Afterwards, the episodes will continue to be shown during the "100 films a month" cycles on Sky Movies. Meanwhile Spike TV, in a separate deal, acquired the commercial broadcast rights to Episode III, including the right to become the first broadcast network to air all six films (the deal takes effect in April 2008).

The term "Expanded Universe" has come into existence as an umbrella term for all of the officially licensed Star Wars material outside of the six feature films. This includes television productions, books, comics, games, and other forms of media. The material expands and continues the stories told in the films, taking place anywhere from 25,000 years before The Phantom Menace to 140 years after Return of the Jedi. The first Expanded Universe story appeared in Marvel Comics' Star Wars #7 in January 1978 (the first six issues of the series having been an adaptation of the movie), followed quickly by Alan Dean Foster's novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye the following month.

George Lucas retains ultimate creative control over the Star Wars universe. For example, the death of central characters and similar changes in the status quo must first pass his screening before authors are given the go-ahead. In addition, Lucasfilm Licensing devotes considerable effort to ensure continuity between the works of various authors across multiple companies.

Some purists reject the Expanded Universe as "Apocrypha", believing that only the events in the film series are part of the "real" Star Wars universe. However, elements of the Expanded Universe have been adopted by Lucas for use in the films. These included the name of the Republic/Empire capital planet, Coruscant, which first appeared in Timothy Zahn's novel Heir to the Empire before being used in The Phantom Menace, while a character introduced in Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars series, a blue Jedi Knight named Aayla Secura, was liked enough by Lucas to be included as a character in Attack of the Clones (and is seen meeting her demise in Revenge of the Sith in an ambush on the jungle planet Felucia).

To date, three films and three animated series have been produced for television, with a live-action series in pre-production. For the most part, Lucas has played a large role in the production of the television projects — usually serving as storywriter and/or executive producer.

A radio adaptation of A New Hope was first broadcast on National Public Radio in 1981. The adaptation was written by science fiction author Brian Daley and directed by John Madden. It was followed by adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back in 1983 and Return of the Jedi in 1996. The adaptations included background material created by Lucas but not used in the films. Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams reprised their roles as Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and Lando Calrissian, respectively. The series also used John Williams' original score from the films and Ben Burtt's original sound designs.

Star Wars-based fiction predates the release of the first movie, with the 1976 novelization of "A New Hope" (ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster and credited to George Lucas). Foster's 1978 novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, was very nearly the first Expanded Universe work to be released. In addition to filling in the time between the movies, this additional content greatly expanded the Star Wars timeline before and after the film series.

Star Wars fiction flourished during the time of the original series (1977-1983) but slowed to a trickle afterwards. In 1991, however, Timothy Zahn's celebrated Thrawn Trilogy debuted, sparking a new interest in the Star Wars universe. Since then, several hundred tie-in novels have been published by Bantam and Del Rey.

LucasBooks radically changed the face of the Star Wars universe with the introduction of the New Jedi Order series, which takes place some 20 years after Return of the Jedi and stars a host of new characters alongside series originals. However, several significant events which occur during the course of this series (such as the death of a major film character) have sparked much fan criticism.

Marvel Comics published Star Wars comic book series and adaptations from 1977 to 1986. A wide variety of creators worked on this series, including Roy Thomas, Archie Goodwin, Howard Chaykin, Al Williamson, Carmine Infantino, Gene Day, Walt Simonson, Michael Golden, Chris Claremont, Whilce Portacio, Jo Duffy, and Ron Frenz. In the late 1980s, Marvel announced it would publish a new Star Wars comic by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy. However, in December 1991, Dark Horse Comics acquired the Star Wars license and used it to launch a number of ambitious sequels to the original trilogy instead, including the very popular Dark Empire stories. They have since gone on to publish a large number of original adventures set in the Star Wars universe.

Since 1983, over 120 video games have been published bearing the Star Wars name, beginning with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back published for the Atari 2600 by Parker Brothers. Since then, Star Wars has opened the way to a myriad of space-flight simulation games, first-person shooter games, roleplaying games, RTS games, and others.

Two different official tabletop role-playing games have been developed for the Star Wars universe– a version by West End Games in the 1980s and 1990s, and one by Wizards of the Coast in the 2000s. In the Lego Star Wars Series the movies are played in a different way. And in Empire at war, players can take control of either the empire or the rebellion and fight for control of the galaxy.

The Star Wars saga has inspired many fans to create their own stories set in the Star Wars galaxy. In recent years, this has ranged from writing fan-fiction to creating fan films.

In 2002, Lucasfilm sponsored the first annual Official Star Wars Fan Films Awards, officially recognizing filmmakers and the genre. Because of concerns over potential copyright and trademark issues, however, the contest remains open only to parodies, mockumentaries, and documentaries. Fan-fiction films set in the Star Wars universe are ineligible. Initially this limitation caused an outcry for those interested in creating serious fan-fiction for a competition.

While many of the serious fan films have used elements from the licensed Expanded Universe to tell their story, they are obviously not considered an official part of the Star Wars canon. Lucasfilm, for the most part, has allowed but not endorsed the creation of these derivative fan-fiction works, so long as no such work attempts to make a profit from or tarnish the Star Wars franchise in any way.

Lucasfilm's open support and sanction of fan creations is a marked contrast to the attitudes of many other copyright holders. Some owners, such as Paramount Pictures with the Star Trek properties, have been known to actively discourage the creation of such works by fans.

The Star Wars saga has had a significant impact on modern global pop culture. Science fiction since Star Wars, particularly in film, has often been influenced by and compared to Star Wars. References to the main characters and themes of Star Wars are casually made in Western society with the well-qualified assumption that others will understand the reference. George Lucas is also famous for using the best possible cameras and technology in his movies. Many say that the visual and virtual effects that take over today's movies would have never been created if not for Lucas's revolutionizing of the movie industry with Star Wars.

Both the movie and characters have been parodied or spoofed in popular movies and television. Notable movie parodies of Star Wars include: Hardware Wars, a 13 minute spoof which George Lucas has called his favorite Star Wars parody; Spaceballs, a feature film by Mel Brooks, and Troops, a COPS-style documentary. There have been numerous parodic references to Star Wars in films such as Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Hot Shots! Part Deux, and most of the films of Kevin Smith.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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