Ever heard of a little project called Star Wars? Nowadays, there are countless sequels and spin-offs of this legendary franchise, but no one had ever heard of it back in the day. When the mind-blowing film series premiered at San Diego’s ComicCon event in 1976, you’d be surprised to see that there were more than a few empty seats in the room. Find out why Star Wars first ComicCon appearance was super lowkey.
A New Hope
Unbelievably, Star Wars didn’t always have the massive amount of clout that it does now. When it was first previewed at ComicCon, audience goers had no idea that they were in for a life-changing event. On July 20, 2017, Star Wars’ official Twitter account released some pretty vintage photos of its less than stellar turn out for its first ComicCon panel in the 70s. The film franchise’s Twitter account captioned the hilarious pics, “Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin tell a less than packed audience about a film called Star Wars at @Comic_Con in 1976.”
If you haven’t heard of Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin yet, these guys are basically Star Wars legends. Chaykin was one of the original cartoon artists for the comic book and Thomas actually helped Marvel to turn the Star Wars comic into a movie. At the premiere, the tiny audience gathered at the near-empty Star Wars premiere panel to view a few early “prevue” stills of A New Hope. As one of the last events of the day, the conference only lasted about an hour.
The Empire Strikes Back
As the OG Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill was more than excited about the first Star Wars movie, despite its underwhelming reception at its first ComicCon. In 2013, Hamill told The Hollywood Reporter that back in 1976, “I hadn’t seen the special effects or heard John Williams’ score, but I knew it had ‘cult’ written all over it.” Hamill also shared with THR that, “I think those were the days it was still called The Star Wars. I had a feeling this thing couldn’t miss. It cost less than All the President’s Men that year, just $9.5 million.” Clearly, Hamill knew what he was talking about!
During the same 2013 interview, Hamill dished to THR that, “I thought, ‘It’ll make $40 million if it makes a dollar. Let’s say it gets panned by all the critics, relegated to matinees for kids, and only makes $5 million and there’s no sequel — still, it’s going to be so well received there’s no way it’s not going to become, like, a midnight movie shown on campuses.’ I said, ‘If this is even one-tenth of the fun to watch that it was to make, it’s gonna out-gross Planet of the Apes.’ We laughed so much when we were making it.” Incredibly, Hamill’s prediction was accurate – Star Wars: A New Hope grossed more than $1.6 billion, crushing the original Planet of the Ape’s profit of $32,589,624!
Return of the Jedi
After the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977, the world of sci-fi films was never the same. By 1980, George Lucas had already debuted its epic sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. Following the success of that film, Lucas followed up with the third installment of the film franchise, 1983’s Return of the Jedi. Known as the original trilogy, these three films laid down the foundation of the Star Wars franchise for many fans. Of course, this was only the beginning for the movies series, as it led to the early 2000s prequel trilogy Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The rest is nerdy history!
Check out the tweet from Star Wars’ Twitter account here:
— Star Wars (@starwars) July 20, 2017
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