This was of course the year when Star Wars opened in 32 theatres on May 25th. George Lucas was unsure Star Wars would be successful. Lucas discussed this with his friend Steven Spielberg who just made Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Lucas was convinced Close Encounters would be more successful. Unsure of the movies potential Lucas had made plans to go to Hawaii and completely forgot when Star Wars would open. He spend most of that Wednesday in a sound studio in Los Angeles. When Lucas went out for lunch with Marcia, they encountered a long line of people along the sidewalks leading to Mann’s Chinese Theatre, waiting to see Star Wars. The rest is history. Mann’s Chinese Theatre had its biggest opening day in its 50-year history and Star Wars would become the first and biggest blockbuster starting a new era for Hollywood.
This is the second Advance “teaser” poster that was released before Star Wars opened on May 25th. The first advance poster had the “coming to your galaxy this summer” tagline. By the time they released second teaser poster Fox marketing settled on the now famous words that open the movie.
Disney got into the act in 1977 with the opening of Space Mountain. While they may not have been directly influenced by imagery from Close Encounters, Atari, or Star Wars, it’s clear that the popular imagination was drawing from common influences like Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey from 1969.
The Atari 2600, also known as the Atari Video Computer System, was first released during September in North America. The Atari 2600 was the first major at home video game console to become popular. It originally launched with 9 different games and was sold for $199.00. The Atari 2600 came with 2 joysticks and the game cartridge for the game “Combat.” The success of the system was mediocre at first but it became more popular in 1980 with the release of the game “Space Invaders,” a popular arcade game, for the system. Over time, millions were sold worldwide. Eventually, the early video game market crashed in 1984. It was discontinued in the early 1990s.
Atari, with the success of the 2600 VCS and its computers, had fully embraced the 1977 aesthetics and by 1980 had full color graphic packaging and a line of “Star Wars” compliant peripherals. And the packaging for the programs borrowed from movie poster designs.
Quite clearly Star Raiders (1979) borrowed directly from Star Wars. In fact, looking at this graphic, I’m now surprised that Atari didn’t get a phone call from Lucas. I guess this was back in the day before tie fighters were Tie FightersTM.
September 23: The sibling team of Donny and Marie Osmond perform an elaborate Star Wars themed musical sequence on The Donny & Marie Show on ABC. The sequence also features Kris Kistofferson, Paul Lynde, Redd Foxx, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and a remote controlled R2-D2. Darth Vader is voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft, best known as the voice of Tony the tiger.
Star Wars Official Poster Monthly #1 was published in October 1977 by Paradise Press.
“Don’t be alarmed. It’s only a movie!”
Listen to the 1977 Star Wars Radio Commercials. These rather dry commercials don’t convey the excitement the movie has and seem rather odd listening to them today. After all, Star Wars became the biggest movie blockbuster of all time.