Star Wars Turns 40

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CORUSCANT (CBSMiami) — A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away called the 70’s, a young filmmaker put it all on the line with a science fiction space opera that ended up redefining the movie industry and creating the big, summer blockbuster.

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George Lucas attends the Star Wars Celebration day 01 on April 13, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)

Four decades later and the legacy of Star Wars is stronger than ever. Original fans are entering their golden years. Kids who grew up with the prequel trilogy are entering adulthood. And George Lucas, the visionary writer/director who created it all, has handed off his life’s work to a new group of artists and filmmakers at Disney ensuring the films live on for generations to come.

But older rebels remember the first time eight big, bold, loud letters jumped onto the movie screen and assaulted movie-goers like nothing they had ever seen before.

On May 25, 1977, the movie simply known as “Star Wars” hit theaters, becoming an instant hit at the box office and creating a worldwide cultural phenomenon. After its success, the title was later changed to “Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope,” enhancing a mystery and intrigue that promised much more.

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(L-R) Actors Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher at the Embarcadero Marina Park South on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

The characters became household names and Lucas became a billionaire. He financed new technology within the industry and paved the way for mind-blowing special effects, computer animation and audio advancements. His sci-fi epic, inspired by everything from the Flash Gordon serials of the 1930’s to Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress, combined action and romance, good vs. bad, and family and destiny, creating a modern-day myth that rivals religions and continues to resonate with audiences.

The franchise’s ninth installment, The Last Jedi, hits theaters in December.

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