In 1977, George Lucas forever changed the landscape of films with his space opera "Star Wars: A New Hope." He reawakened the use of special effects. "We've been pushing digital techniques and that sort of thing ever since, and we helped populate the special-effects industry as it is today," Lucas told MTV in a 2004 interview. The movie was the launch of a trilogy that 20 years later spawned a second trilogy. In 2015, another a movie that is the first in a planned third trilogy is scheduled -- this time owned by Disney and with new directors.
The First Trilogy
Between 1973 and 1977, George Lucas had several names for what would become a blockbuster film. It went through titles such as "The Journal of the Whills," "Adventures of Luke Starkiller" and "Saga 1: The Star Wars." Eventually, the first trilogy would have the titles "Star Wars: A New Hope," "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Return of the Jedi" (1983). This trilogy featured actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness and James Earl Jones -- who mostly was heard and not seen. Frank Oz voiced the character of Yoda, but Lucas' original plans for the character was to have him played by a monkey wearing a mask and carrying a cane.
The Second Trilogy
In 1999, George Lucas released the first of three prequels to his original trilogy. The original screenplay carried the title "Episode 1: The Beginning" and Lucas jokingly said the second one would be called "Jar Jar's Great Adventure." The final titles ended up being "Episode I: The Phantom Menace," "Episode II: Attack of the Clones" (2002) and "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" (2006). It featured actors Ewan McGregor, Jake Lloyd, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Liam Neeson, Samuel Jackson and Christopher Lee. Lucas' daughter asked that boy band 'N Sync get a cameo in "Attack of the Clones." He agreed, but they were edited out during final cuts.
While Lucas once claimed the saga was meant to be three trilogies, he later backed away from that and said the story ends with the redemption of Darth Vader. However, in 2012, Disney announced it was buying the "Star Wars" franchise and all of Lucasfilm. Disney said it would release a new trilogy with the first coming out in 2015. The new film is titled "The Force Awakens." Lucas retains artistic control over the Star Wars universe and Disney must seek his approval for things such as any deaths of main characters.
Animated and Television Movies
In 2008, Lucasfilm released a computer-animated movie called "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," which Warner Brother distributed. The movie takes place chronologically between "Episode II" and" Episode III." It launched a television series by the same name, which ran for 121 episodes. Other made-for-television movies included "Star Wars Holiday Special" in 1978, "Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure" in 1984, "Ewoks: The Battle for Endor" in 1985, "The Great Heep" in 1986 and "LEGO Star Wars: The Quest for R2-D2" in 2009. The latter was an official spoof.
- MTV: George Lucas Declares "Star Wars" Over After "Revenge of the Sith"
- Mashable: 30 "Star Wars" Facts You Didn't Know
- The Secret History of Star Wars; Michael Kaminski
- T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images News/Getty Images