40 years ago today, a humble science fiction movie opened in just 30 or so theaters in the U.S. The movie was written and directed by an up and coming movie director, George Lucas, who had previously written and directed the hit film American Graffiti in 1973, but had been relatively quiet since. While little was expected of Star Wars: A New Hope when it first opened, it became clear pretty quickly that it would be a fan favorite. That said, nobody could have envisioned the success it would have as a franchise.
See also: 50 Amazing Star Wars Fun Facts and Stats.
Flash forward 40 years and Star Wars has become one of the most successful movie franchises in history. George Lucas, while not directly involved in Star Wars films any longer, has solidified his position as a patriarch of science fiction and film-making in general.
Star Wars has played such a large role in the lives of so many of my generation and the generations that followed. Between the sequels, prequels and now the latest trilogy along with Clone Wars, Rebels, Freemakers and more, for the past 40 years, the franchise has been reliably present throughout. So, to George Lucas and the entire Star Wars family, I offer a heartfelt Happy 40th Birthday!