February 3, 1959 and February 9, 1964. The day the music died and the date it was reborn on the Ed Sullivan Show, both days burned into the collective memories of pop culture fanatics everywhere. But what about May 25, 1977?
If you were a teenager then chances are you felt the earth shift. It was the day Star Wars opened, kicking off a cultural phenomenon that continues to this day.
This weekend the universe George Lucas unleashed in 1977 grows to include Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Much-anticipated, the movie is the first of the standalone Star Wars Anthology films and is expected to decimate the competition, Death Star style.
Expect line-ups and packed theatres — box office seers estimate it could pull in somewhere between $130 million to $150 million at the U.S. box office this week — but no matter how wild the weekend gets, nothing will match the pandemonium that greeted Star Wars in May, 1977.
To paint a picture of the first blush of Star Wars mania I asked my Facebookers what they remember about that moment a long time ago, in a galaxy (not so) far, far away…
“I remember being so in awe of that legendary opening scene with the giant spaceship coming into picture from the top and filling up the entire screen… oooo, aaaaah,” wrote Glenda Fordham. “The audience gasped in unison.”
“Upon leaving the theatre, with my little mind totally blown, I was interviewed by the news,” recollected Lesley Mitchell-Clarke, “where I think that I said, ‘Anything is now possible cinematically.’ I was all of 19.”
“My stepbrother, who was seven at the time, was dead set against seeing it,” says Tina Cooper, “and then of course saw it at least 50 times and dressed in Star Wars gear and played with Star Wars toys every single day for the rest of his childhood.”
“The line-up went right around the block and we ended up sitting in the front row of the balcony,” recalled Chris Ball. “I was mesmerized but dad was bored. Part way through I guess he decided he might as well get comfortable. He took his jacket off and in the process knocked his popcorn over the balcony railing. We got a stern lecture from the manager and almost got thrown out. Fast forward 20 years (1997) and I am now the manager of the same theatre and handing out those stern lectures.”
“I was six,” remembered Sue Edworthy. “My Dad took me to see it. I fell asleep halfway through. He took me to see it again. I fell asleep halfway through. The seventh time, I finally saw the whole thing. Clearly he had no problem seeing it again, and again, and again.”
“It was the first film that I went to more than once in its initial run,” said Adrian Gruff. “In the scene where the X-Wings enter the Death Star’s trench, I disengaged from the screen just so I could watch everyone’s heads do the sideways bob and twist that mine had done on first viewing.
“It was the first time that I had a true inkling as to the energy that religion refers to as ‘God.’”