25 May 1977

Star Wars is released in theaters.

Star Wars
Film poster showing Luke Skywalker heroically holding a lightsaber in the air, Princess Leia kneeling beside him, and R2-D2 and C-3PO behind them. A figure of the head of Darth Vader and the Death Star with several starfighters heading towards it are shown in the background. Atop the image is the tag line of the movie "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." On the bottom right is the film's logo, and the credits and the production details below that.
Theatrical release poster by Tom Jung
Directed byGeorge Lucas
Produced byGary Kurtz
Written byGeorge Lucas
Starring
Music byJohn Williams
CinematographyGilbert Taylor
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • May 25, 1977 (1977-05-25) (United States)
Running time
121 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[2]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$11 million[3][4]
Box office$775.5 million[3]

Star Wars (retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century-Fox. It stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Peter Mayhew. It is the first installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, the first of the franchise to be produced, and the fourth episode of the "Skywalker saga".

Lucas had the idea for a science-fiction film in the vein of Flash Gordon around the time he completed his first film, THX 1138 (1971), and began working on a treatment after the release of American Graffiti (1973). Star Wars focuses on the journey of Luke Skywalker (Hamill), who along with Han Solo (Ford) and the wizened Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Guinness), attempt to free Rebellion leader Princess Leia (Fisher) from the clutches of the Galactic Empire and the Sith lord Darth Vader (Prowse, voiced by Jones). The heroes, in league with the Rebel Alliance, attempt to destroy the Empire's planet-destroying space station, the Death Star.

Star Wars was released in a limited number of theaters in the United States on May 25, 1977, and quickly became a blockbuster hit, leading to it being expanded to a much wider release. The film opened to critical acclaim, most notably for its groundbreaking visual effects. It grossed a total of $775 million, surpassing Jaws (1975) to become the highest-grossing film at the time until the release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). When adjusted for inflation, Star Wars is the second-highest-grossing film in North America (behind Gone with the Wind) and the fourth-highest-grossing film in the world. It received ten Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), winning seven. In 1989, it became one of the first 25 films that was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[5][6] At the time, it was the most recent film in the registry and the only one chosen from the 1970s. In 2004, its soundtrack was added to the U.S. National Recording Registry. Today, it is regarded as one of the most important films in the history of motion pictures.

The film has been reissued multiple times with Lucas's support—most significantly with its 20th-anniversary theatrical "Special Edition"—incorporating many changes including modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, re-edited shots, remixed soundtracks and added scenes. The film became a "pop-cultural phenomenon" and launched an industry of tie-in products, including novels, comics, video games, amusement park attractions, and merchandise including toys, games, clothing and many other spin-off works. The film's success led to two critically and commercially successful sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), and later to a prequel trilogy, a sequel trilogy, two anthology films and various spin-off TV series.

Plot

The galaxy is in a period of civil war. Rebel spies have stolen plans to the Galactic Empire's Death Star, a moon-sized space station capable of destroying an entire planet. Princess Leia, secretly one of the Rebellion's leaders, has obtained its schematics, but her starship is intercepted by an Imperial Star Destroyer under the command of the ruthless Sith Lord Darth Vader, an agent to the Empire. Before she is captured, Leia hides the plans in the memory of astromech droid R2-D2, who, along with protocol droid C-3PO, flees in an escape pod to the desert planet Tatooine.

The droids are captured by Jawa traders, who sell them to moisture farmers Owen and Beru Lars and their nephew Luke Skywalker. While cleaning R2-D2, Luke accidentally triggers part of a holographic recording of Leia, in which she requests help from Obi-Wan Kenobi. The only Kenobi whom Luke knows is “Old Ben” Kenobi, an elderly hermit. He asks his uncle if he knows anything, but his uncle curtly drops the subject. The next morning, Luke finds R2-D2 missing, and while searching for him, encounters Old Ben. Ben, who reveals his true name to be Obi-Wan, tells Luke of his days as a Jedi Knight, former peacekeepers of the Galactic Republic who derived their power from an energy field called the Force until they were wiped out by the Galactic Empire. Contrary to what his uncle has told him, Luke learns that his father fought alongside Obi-Wan as a Jedi Knight until Vader, a former pupil of Obi-Wan's, turned to the dark side of the Force and murdered him. Obi-Wan presents Luke with his father's old weapon, a lightsaber.

R2-D2 plays Leia's message for Obi-Wan, in which she begs him to take the Death Star plans to her home planet of Alderaan and give them to her father for analysis. Obi-Wan invites Luke to accompany him to Alderaan and learn the ways of the Force, but Luke declines, saying his aunt and uncle need him. Returning home, however, he finds Imperial stormtroopers have killed his aunt and uncle and destroyed their farm in their search for the droids, leaving Luke no choice but to accept Obi-Wan's invitation. They travel to a cantina in Mos Eisley, where they hire smuggler Han Solo to transport them. Han is intercepted by Greedo, a bounty hunter working for local mobster Jabba the Hutt, to whom Han owes money; the confrontation ends with Han killing Greedo. Obi-Wan, Luke, R2-D2 and C-3PO flee Tatooine, with Han and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca on their ship the Millennium Falcon.

Death Star commander Grand Moff Tarkin orders the destruction of Alderaan, Leia's home planet, using the Death Star's superlaser as a show of force.[7] The Falcon crew discovers the planet's remains and is captured by the Death Star's tractor beam, which Obi-Wan goes to disable. Luke discovers that Leia is imprisoned on the Death Star and scheduled to be executed, and rescues her with the help of Han and Chewbacca in a swashbuckling series of escapes. His task accomplished, Obi-Wan sees that the others need a distraction to board the Falcon, and sacrifices himself in a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader. They depart the hangar but are caught up by four Imperial TIE starfighters which they fight off. Using a tracking beacon placed on the Falcon, the Imperials follow the rebels to the hidden base on Yavin 4.

Leia's schematics show that the Death Star might be destroyed by firing torpedoes into a two-meter-wide thermal exhaust port that directly leads into its reactor, triggering a chain reaction. Han collects a reward for his role in Leia's rescue, intending to leave and repay Jabba. Luke joins the Rebel squadron in a desperate attack against the approaching Death Star. In the ensuing battle, the Rebels suffer heavy losses in several unsuccessful runs. Vader leads a squadron of TIE fighters and prepares to attack Luke's X-wing, but Han returns and attacks the Imperial fighters, sending Vader spiraling into space. Guided by Obi-Wan's spirit, Luke turns off his targeting computer and uses the Force to guide the torpedoes into the exhaust port. The Death Star explodes just before it can fire on the Rebel base, killing Tarkin and the Imperial troops onboard. In a triumphant ceremony at the base, Leia awards Luke and Han medals for their heroism.

Cast

From left to right: Luke Skywalker (Hamill), Princess Leia (Fisher), and Han Solo (Ford)
  • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker: A young adult raised by his aunt and uncle on Tatooine, who dreams of something more than his current life and learns the way of a Jedi. Lucas favored casting young actors who lacked long experience. To play Luke (then known as Luke Starkiller), Lucas sought actors who could project intelligence and integrity. While reading the script, Hamill found the dialogue to be extremely odd because of its universe-embedded concepts. He chose to simply read it sincerely, and he was cast instead of William Katt, who was subsequently cast in Brian De Palma's Carrie (Lucas shared a joint casting session with De Palma, a longtime friend).[8][9]
  • Harrison Ford as Han Solo: A cynical smuggler hired by Obi-Wan and Luke to take them to Alderaan in his ship, the Millennium Falcon, co-piloted with Chewbacca. Lucas initially rejected casting Ford for the role, as he "wanted new faces"; Ford had previously worked with Lucas on American Graffiti. Instead, Lucas asked Ford to assist in the auditions by reading lines with the other actors and explaining the concepts and history behind the scenes that they were reading. Lucas was eventually won over by Ford's portrayal and cast him instead of Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte,[9] Sylvester Stallone,[10] Bill Murray,[11][12] Christopher Walken, Burt Reynolds, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, or Perry King (who later played Han Solo in the radio plays).[8][13]
  • Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia: A member of the Imperial Senate and one of the many Leaders of the Rebel Alliance. Many young Hollywood actresses auditioned for the role of Princess Leia, including Amy Irving,[9] Terri Nunn (also a singer), Cindy Williams,[8] Karen Allen,[9] and Jodie Foster. Foster, for one, turned down the role because she was already under contract with Disney and working on two films at the time.[14] Fisher was cast under the condition that she lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) for the role.[15]
  • Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin: Commander of the Death Star. Lucas originally had Cushing in mind for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but Lucas believed that "his lean features" would be better employed in the role of Grand Moff Tarkin instead. Lucas commended Cushing's performance, saying "[He] is a very good actor. Adored and idolized by young people and by people who go to see a certain kind of movie. I feel he will be fondly remembered for the next 350 years at least." Cushing, commenting on his role, joked: "I've often wondered what a 'Grand Moff' was. It sounds like something that flew out of a cupboard."[16]
  • Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan 'Ben' Kenobi: An aging Jedi Master and former mentor of Darth Vader who introduces Luke to the Force. Lucas' decision to cast "unknowns" was not taken favorably by his friend Francis Ford Coppola and the studio. Lucas felt Obi-Wan Kenobi should be played by an established actor. Producer Gary Kurtz said, "The Alec Guinness role required a certain stability and gravitas as a character... which meant we needed a very, very strong character actor to play that part."[8] Before Guinness was cast, Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune (who starred in many Akira Kurosawa films) was considered for the role.[9][17] According to Mifune's daughter, Mika Kitagawa, her father turned down Lucas' offers for Kenobi and Darth Vader because "he was concerned about how the film would look and that it would cheapen the image of samurai... At the time, sci-fi movies still looked quite cheap as the effects were not advanced and he had a lot of samurai pride."[18] Guinness was one of the few cast members who believed that the film would be successful; he negotiated a deal for 2.25% of the one-fifth gross royalties paid to Lucas, which made him quite wealthy in later life. He agreed to take the part of Kenobi on the condition that he would not have to do any publicity to promote the film.[19] Lucas credited him with inspiring the cast and crew to work harder, saying that Guinness contributed significantly to the completion of the filming.[20] Harrison Ford said, "It was, for me, fascinating to watch Alec Guinness. He was always prepared, always professional, always very kind to the other actors. He had a very clear head about how to serve the story."[8]
  • Anthony Daniels as C-3PO: A protocol droid who is "fluent in over six million forms of communication". Daniels auditioned for and was cast as C-3PO; he has said that he wanted the role after he saw a Ralph McQuarrie drawing of the character and was struck by the vulnerability in the robot's face.[8][21] Initially, Lucas did not intend to use Daniels' voice for C-3PO. Thirty well-established voice actors read for the voice of the droid. According to Daniels, one of the major voice actors, believed by some sources to be Stan Freberg, recommended Daniels' voice for the role.[8][22]
  • Kenny Baker as R2-D2: An astromech droid who is carrying the Death Star plans and a secret message for Obi-Wan from Princess Leia. When filming was underway in London, where additional casting took place, Baker, performing a musical comedy act with his acting partner Jack Purvis, learned that the film crew was looking for a small person to fit inside a robot suit and maneuver it. Baker, who was 3 feet 8 inches (1.12 m) tall, was cast immediately after meeting George Lucas. He said, "He saw me come in and said 'He'll do' because I was the smallest guy they'd seen up until then." He initially turned down the role three times, hesitant to appear in a film where his face would not be shown and hoping to continue the success of his comedy act, which had recently started to be televised.[23] R2-D2's recognizable beeps and squeaks were made by sound designer Ben Burtt imitating "baby noises", recording this voice as it was heard on an intercom, and creating the final mix using a synthesizer.[24]
  • Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca: A 200-year-old Wookiee, Han Solo's sidekick, and first mate of the Millennium Falcon. Mayhew learned of a casting call for Star Wars, which was being shot in London, and decided to audition. The 7-foot-3-inch (2.21 m) tall actor was immediately cast as Chewbacca after he stood up to greet Lucas.[8][25] He recounted,

I sat down on one of the sofas, waiting for George. Door opened, and George walked in with Gary behind him. So, naturally, what did I do? I'm raised in England. Soon as someone comes in through the door, I stand up. George goes "Hmm [looked up]". Virtually turned to Gary, and said "I think we've found him".[8]

He was eligible for either of the two roles: Chewbacca or Darth Vader. He chose the former because he wanted to play a hero; English actor David Prowse took the other.[25] Mayhew modeled his performance of Chewbacca after the mannerisms of animals he saw at public zoos.[19]
  • David Prowse as Darth Vader: A Sith lord of the Galactic Empire who aims to destroy the Rebel Alliance.
  • James Earl Jones as the uncredited voice of Darth Vader. Lucas originally intended for Orson Welles to voice the character after dismissing Prowse due to his West Country English accent (which led to him being nicknamed, within the cast, as "Darth Farmer").[24] However, determining that Welles' voice would be too familiar to audiences, Lucas instead cast then-relatively less recognizable Jones.[8][9]

Other actors include Phil Brown and Shelagh Fraser as Luke's Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru; Jack Purvis, Kenny Baker's partner in his London comedy act, as the Chief Jawa in the film; and Eddie Byrne as Vanden Willard, a Rebel general.[26] Denis Lawson and Garrick Hagon played rebel pilots Wedge Antilles and Biggs Darklighter (Luke's childhood friend), respectively. Don Henderson and Leslie Schofield appear as Imperial Generals Cassio Tagge and Moradmin Bast, respectively, and Richard LeParmentier plays Admiral Motti.[27] Alex McCrindle portrays General Jan Dodonna, Alfie Curtis portrays Dr. Evazan and Peter Geddis portrays Captain Raymus Antilles. Michael Leader plays a minor role as a Stormtrooper known for accidentally hitting his helmet against a door.[28][29]

Production

Development

Director/writer George Lucas describing to a 2007 audience the difficulty of pitching Star Wars, being turned down repeatedly, until 20th Century-Fox bought the idea for "a little strange" film.[30]

Lucas had the idea for a space-fantasy film in 1971, after he completed directing his first full-length feature, THX 1138;[31] however, he has said that he had the idea long before then.[32] Believing that the bleak tone of THX 1138 led to its poor reception, Lucas chose to make Star Wars more optimistic; this is what led to its fun and adventurous tone.[33] Originally, Lucas wanted to adapt the Flash Gordon space adventure comics and serials into his own films, having been fascinated by them since he was young.[34] He later said,

I especially loved the Flash Gordon serials ... Of course I realize now how crude and badly done they were ... loving them that much when they were so awful, I began to wonder what would happen if they were done really well.[35]

At the Cannes Film Festival following the completion of THX 1138, Lucas was granted a two-film development deal with United Artists; the two films were American Graffiti and an untitled space opera inspired by Flash Gordon.[36] He pushed towards buying the Flash Gordon rights, but could not afford them.[35] Lucas later recounted:

I wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, with all the trimmings, but I couldn't obtain the rights to the characters. So I began researching and went right back and found where Alex Raymond (who had done the original Flash Gordon comic strips in newspapers) had got his idea from. I discovered that he'd got his inspiration from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs (author of Tarzan) and especially from his John Carter of Mars series books. I read through that series, then found that what had sparked Burroughs off was a science-fantasy called Gulliver on Mars, written by Edwin Arnold and published in 1905. That was the first story in this genre that I have been able to trace. Jules Verne had got pretty close, I suppose, but he never had a hero battling against space creatures or having adventures on another planet. A whole new genre developed from that idea.[31]

Lucas's early plan was to buy the rights to the Flash Gordon film serials and comics of the 1930s and 1940s

Director Francis Ford Coppola, who accompanied Lucas in trying to buy the Flash Gordon rights, recounted in 1999: "[George] was very depressed because he had just come back and they wouldn't sell him Flash Gordon. And he says, 'Well, I'll just invent my own.'"[35][37] Lucas went to United Artists and showed them the script for American Graffiti, but they passed on the film, which was then picked up by Universal Pictures.[37] United Artists also passed on Lucas' space-opera concept, which he shelved for the time being.[38] After spending the next two years completing American Graffiti, Lucas turned his attention to his space opera.[31][37] He drew inspiration from politics of the era, later saying, “It was really about the Vietnam War, and that was the period where Nixon was trying to run for a [second] term, which got me to thinking historically about how do democracies get turned into dictatorships?”[39][40]

Lucas began writing in January 1973, "eight hours a day, five days a week",[31] by taking small notes, inventing odd names and assigning them possible characterizations. Lucas would discard many of these by the time the final script was written, but he included several names and places in the final script or its sequels. He used these initial names and ideas to compile a two-page synopsis titled Journal of the Whills, which told the tale of the training of apprentice CJ Thorpe as a "Jedi-Bendu" space commando by the legendary Mace Windy.[41] Frustrated that his story was too difficult to understand,[42] Lucas then began writing a 13-page treatment called The Star Wars on April 17, 1973, which had thematic parallels with Kurosawa's 1958 film The Hidden Fortress.[43]

Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz (pictured in 2002)

After United Artists declined to budget the film, Lucas and producer Gary Kurtz presented the film treatment to Universal Pictures, the studio that financed American Graffiti; however, it rejected its options for the film because the concept was "a little strange", and it said that Lucas should follow American Graffiti with more consequential themes.[30] Walt Disney Productions also turned down the film.[44]

Lucas said, "I've always been an outsider to Hollywood types. They think I do weirdo films."[30] According to Kurtz, Lew Wasserman, the studio's head, "just didn't think much of science fiction at that time, didn't think it had much of a future then, with that particular audience."[45] He said that "science fiction wasn't popular in the mid-'70s ... what seems to be the case generally is that the studio executives are looking for what was popular last year, rather than trying to look forward to what might be popular next year."[46] Lucas explained in 1977 that the film is not "about the future" and that it "is a fantasy much closer to the Brothers Grimm than it is to 2001." He added: "My main reason for making it was to give young people an honest, wholesome fantasy life, the kind my generation had. We had Westerns, pirate movies, all kinds of great things. Now they have The Six Million Dollar Man and Kojak. Where are the romance, the adventure, and the fun that used to be in practically every movie made?"[30] Kurtz said, "Although Star Wars wasn't like [then-current science fiction] at all, it was just sort of lumped into that same kind of category."[45]

There were also concerns regarding the project's potentially high budget. Lucas and Kurtz, in pitching the film, said that it would be "low-budget, Roger Corman style, and the budget was never going to be more than—well, originally we had proposed about 8 million, it ended up being about 10. Both of those figures are very low budget by Hollywood standards at the time."[45] After Disney rejected the project,[44] Lucas and Kurtz persisted in securing a studio to support the film because "other people had read it and said, 'Yeah, it could be a good idea.'"[45] Lucas pursued Alan Ladd Jr., the head of 20th Century-Fox, and in June 1973 completed a deal to write and direct the film. Although Ladd did not grasp the technical side of the project, he believed that Lucas was talented. Lucas later stated that Ladd "invested in me, he did not invest in the movie."[8] The deal gave Lucas $150,000 to write and direct the film.[19] American Graffiti's positive reception afforded Lucas the leverage necessary to renegotiate his deal with Ladd and request the sequel rights to the film in August 1973. For Lucas, this deal protected Star Wars's unwritten segments and most of the merchandising profits.[8]:19

Writing

It's the flotsam and jetsam from the period when I was twelve years old. All the books and films and comics that I liked when I was a child. The plot is simple—good against evil—and the film is designed to be all the fun things and fantasy things I remember. The word for this movie is fun.

—George Lucas, 1977[30]

Since commencing his writing process in January 1973, Lucas had done "various rewrites in the evenings after the day's work." He would write four different screenplays for Star Wars, "searching for just the right ingredients, characters and storyline. It's always been what you might call a good idea in search of a story."[31] By May 1974, he had expanded the treatment for The Star Wars into a rough draft screenplay,[47][8]:14 adding elements such as the Sith, the Death Star, and a general by the name of Annikin [sic] Starkiller. He changed Starkiller to an adolescent boy, and he shifted the general into a supporting role as a member of a family of dwarfs.[8][22] Lucas envisioned the Corellian smuggler, Han Solo, as a large, green-skinned monster with gills. He based Chewbacca on his Alaskan Malamute dog, Indiana (whom he would later use as namesake for his character Indiana Jones), who often acted as the director's "co-pilot" by sitting in the passenger seat of his car.[22]

Lucas began researching the science-fiction genre by watching films and reading books and comics.[48] The script would introduce the concept of a Jedi Master and his son, who trains to be a Jedi under his father's friend; this would ultimately form the basis for the film and, later, the trilogy. However, in this draft, the father is a hero who is still alive at the start of the film.[49] Between drafts, Lucas read Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and was surprised to find that his first draft "was following classical motifs."[50]

Lucas completed a second draft in January 1975 as ADVENTURES OF THE STARKILLER (episode one) “The Star Wars”, making heavy simplifications and introducing the young hero on a farm as Luke Starkiller. Annikin became Luke's father, a wise Jedi knight. "The Force" was also introduced as a mystical energy field.[47] This draft still had some differences from the final version in the characters and relationships. For example, Luke had several brothers, as well as his father, who appears in a minor role at the end of the film. The script became more of a fairy tale quest as opposed to the action/adventure of the previous versions. This version ended with another text crawl, previewing the next story in the series. This draft was also the first to introduce the concept of a Jedi turning to the dark side: the draft included a historical Jedi who was the first to ever fall to the dark side, and then trained the Sith to use it. Lucas hired conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie to create paintings of certain scenes, several of which Lucas included with his screenplay when he delivered it to 20th Century-Fox.[51] On February 27, the studio granted a budget of $5 million; this was later increased to $8.25 million.[8]:17:30

A third draft, dated August 1, 1975, was titled The Star Wars From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. This third draft had most of the elements of the final plot, with only some differences in the characters and settings. The draft characterized Luke as an only child, with his father already dead, replacing him with a substitute named Ben Kenobi.[47] This script would be re-written for the fourth and final draft, dated January 1, 1976, as The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars. Lucas worked with his friends Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck to revise the fourth draft into the final pre-production script.[52]

Lucas finished writing his script in March 1976, when the crew started filming. He said, "What finally emerged through the many drafts of the script has obviously been influenced by science-fiction and action-adventure I've read and seen. And I've seen a lot of it. I'm trying to make a classic sort of genre picture, a classic space fantasy in which all the influences are working together. There are certain traditional aspects of the genre I wanted to keep and help perpetuate in Star Wars."[31] During production, he changed Luke's name from Starkiller to Skywalker[8] and altered the title to The Star Wars and later Star Wars.[47] He would also continue to tweak the script during filming, including adding the death of Obi-Wan after realizing he served no purpose in the ending of the film.[53][54]

For the film's opening crawl, Lucas originally wrote a composition consisting of six paragraphs with four sentences each.[19] He said, "The crawl is such a hard thing because you have to be careful that you're not using too many words that people don't understand. It's like a poem." Lucas showed his draft to his friends.[55] Director Brian De Palma, who was there, described it: "The crawl at the beginning looks like it was written on a driveway. It goes on forever. It's gibberish."[56] Lucas recounted what De Palma said the first time he saw it: "George, you're out of your mind! Let me sit down and write this for you." De Palma and Jay Cocks helped edit the text into the form used in the film.[55][57]

Design

George Lucas recruited many conceptual designers, including Colin Cantwell, who worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), to conceptualize the initial spacecraft models; Alex Tavoularis to create the preliminary conceptual storyboard sketches of early scripts; and Ralph McQuarrie to visualize the characters, costumes, props and scenery.[31] McQuarrie's pre-production paintings of certain scenes from Lucas's early screenplay drafts helped 20th Century-Fox visualize the film, which positively influenced their decision to fund the project. After McQuarrie's drawings for Lucas's colleagues Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins (who were collaborating for a film) caught his interest, Lucas met with McQuarrie to discuss his plans for the untitled space fantasy film he wanted to make. Two years later, after completing American Graffiti, Lucas approached McQuarrie and asked him if he would be interested "in doing something for Star Wars."[58] McQuarrie produced a series of artworks from simple sketches; these set a visual tone for the film, and for the rest of the original trilogy.[31]

Star Wars has no points of reference to Earth time or space, with which we are familiar, and it is not about the future but some galactic past or some extra-temporal present, it is a decidedly inhabited and used place where the hardware is taken for granted.

—Lucas on his "used future" backdrop[59]

The film was ambitious as Lucas wanted to create fresh prop prototypes and sets (based on McQuarrie's paintings) that had never been realized before in science fiction films. He commissioned production designers John Barry and Roger Christian, who were working on the sets of the film Lucky Lady (1975) when Lucas first approached them, to work on the production sets. Christian recounted in 2014: "George came to the set I was doing, it was an old salt factory design and he helped me shovel salt, just like two students in plaid shirts and sneakers. And we spoke and he looked at the set and couldn't believe it wasn't real." They had a conversation with Lucas on what he would like the film to appear like, with them creating the desired sets. Christian said that Lucas "didn't want anything [in Star Wars] to stand out, he wanted it [to look] all real and used. And I said, 'Finally somebody's doing it the right way.'"[60]

Lucas described a "used future" concept to the production designers in which all devices, ships, and buildings looked aged and dirty.[8][61][62] Instead of following the traditional sleekness and futuristic architecture of science fiction films that came before, the Star Wars sets were designed to look inhabited and used. Barry said that the director "wants to make it look like it's shot on location on your average everyday Death Star or Mos Eisley Spaceport or local cantina." Lucas believed that "what is required for true credibility is a used future", opposing the interpretation of "future in most futurist movies" that "always looks new and clean and shiny."[59] Christian supported Lucas's vision, saying "All science fiction before was very plastic and stupid uniforms and Flash Gordon stuff. Nothing was new. George was going right against that."[60]

The designers started working with the director before Star Wars was approved by 20th Century-Fox.[60] For four to five months, in a studio in Kensal Rise, England,[60][63] they attempted to plan the creation of the props and sets with "no money." Although Lucas initially provided funds using his earnings from American Graffiti, it was inadequate. As they could not afford to dress the sets, Christian was forced to use unconventional methods and materials to achieve the desired look. He suggested that Lucas use scrap in making the dressings, and the director agreed.[60] Christian said, "I've always had this idea. I used to do it with models when I was a kid. I'd stick things on them and we'd make things look old."[63] Barry, Christian, and their team began designing the props and sets at Elstree Studios.[59]

According to Christian, the Millennium Falcon set was the most difficult to build. Christian wanted the interior of the Falcon to look like that of a submarine.[60] He found scrap airplane metal "that no one wanted in those days and bought them."[63] He began his creation process by breaking down jet engines into scrap pieces, giving him the chance to "stick it in the sets in specific ways."[60] It took him several weeks to finish the chess set (which he described as "the most encrusted set") in the hold of the Falcon. The garbage compactor set "was also pretty hard, because I knew I had actors in there and the walls had to come in, and they had to be in dirty water and I had to get stuff that would be light enough so it wouldn't hurt them but also not bobbing around."[60] A total of 30 sets consisting of planets, starships, caves, control rooms, cantinas, and the Death Star corridors were created; all of the nine sound stages at Elstree were used to accommodate them. The massive rebel hangar set was housed at a second sound stage at Shepperton Studios; the stage was the largest in Europe at the time.[59]

Filming

In 1975, Lucas formed his own visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) after discovering that 20th Century-Fox's visual effects department had been disbanded. ILM began its work on Star Wars in a warehouse in Van Nuys, California. Most of the visual effects used pioneering digital motion control photography developed by John Dykstra and his team, which created the illusion of size by employing small models and slowly moving cameras.[8]

George Lucas tried "to get a cohesive reality" for his feature. However, since the film is a fairy tale, as he had described, "I still wanted it to have an ethereal quality, yet be well composed and, also, have an alien look." He designed the film to have an "extremely bizarre, Gregg Toland-like surreal look with strange over-exposed colors, a lot of shadows, a lot of hot areas." Lucas wanted Star Wars to embrace the combination of "strange graphics of fantasy" and "the feel of a documentary" to impress a distinct look. To achieve this, he hired the British cinematographer Gilbert Taylor.[59] Originally, Lucas's first choice for the position was Geoffrey Unsworth, who also provided the cinematography for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.[45] Unsworth was interested in working with the director, and initially accepted the job when it was offered to him by Lucas and Kurtz. However, he eventually withdrew to work on the Vincente Minnelli-directed A Matter of Time (1976) instead, which "really annoy[ed]" Kurtz.[45] Lucas called up for other cinematographers, and eventually chose Taylor, basing his choice on Taylor's cinematography for Dr. Strangelove and A Hard Day's Night (both 1964). On his decision, Lucas said: "I thought they were good, eccentrically photographed pictures with a strong documentary flavor."[59]

Taylor said that Lucas, who was consumed by the details of the complicated production, "avoided all meetings and contact with me from day one, so I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture." He also "took it upon myself to experiment with photographing the lightsabers and other things onstage before we moved on to our two weeks of location work in Tunisia."[64] Taylor was aware of the "enormous amount of process work" to follow principal photography and believed "a crisp result would help."[65]

During production, Lucas and Taylor—whom Kurtz called "old-school" and "crotchety"[66]—had disputes over filming.[45] With a background in independent filmmaking, Lucas was accustomed to creating most of the elements of the film himself. His lighting suggestions were rejected by Taylor, who believed that Lucas was overstepping his boundaries by giving specific instructions, sometimes even moving lights and cameras himself. Taylor refused to use the soft-focus lenses and gauze Lucas wanted after Fox executives complained about the look.[66] Kurtz stated that "In a couple of scenes ... rather than saying, 'It looks a bit over lit, can you fix that?', [Lucas would] say, 'turn off this light, and turn off that light.' And Gil would say, 'No, I won't do that, I've lit it the way I think it should be—tell me what's the effect that you want, and I'll make a judgment about what to do with my lights.'"[45]

Hotel Sidi Driss, the underground building in Matmata, Tunisia, used to film Luke's home

Originally, Lucas envisioned the planet of Tatooine, where much of the film would take place, as a jungle planet. Gary Kurtz traveled to the Philippines to scout locations; however, because of the idea of spending months filming in the jungle would make Lucas "itchy", the director refined his vision and made Tatooine a desert planet instead.[67] Kurtz then researched all American, North African, and Middle Eastern deserts, and found Tunisia, near the Sahara desert, as the ideal location.[59] Lucas later stated that he had wanted to make it look like outer space.[68]

When principal photography began on March 22, 1976, in the Tunisian desert for the scenes on Tatooine, the project faced several problems.[69] Lucas fell behind schedule in the first week of shooting due to malfunctioning props and electronic breakdowns.[69][70] Moreover, a rare Tunisian rainstorm struck the country, which further disrupted filming. Taylor said, "you couldn't really see where the land ended and the sky began. It was all a gray mess, and the robots were just a blur." Given this situation, Lucas requested heavy filtration, which Taylor rejected, who said: "I thought the look of the film should be absolutely clean ... But George saw it differently, so we tried using nets and other diffusion. He asked to set up one shot on the robots with a 300mm, and the sand and sky just mushed together. I told him it wouldn't work, but he said that was the way he wanted to do the entire film, all diffused." This difference was later settled by 20th Century-Fox executives, who backed Taylor's suggestion.[71]

Filming in Death Valley c. 1976

Filming began in Chott el Djerid, while a construction crew in Tozeur took eight weeks to transform the desert into the desired setting.[59] Other locations included the sand dunes of the Tunisian desert near Nafta, where a scene featuring a giant skeleton of a creature lying in the background as R2-D2 and C-3PO make their way across the sands was filmed.[72] When actor Anthony Daniels wore the C-3PO outfit for the first time in Tunisia, the left leg piece shattered down through the plastic covering his left foot, stabbing him.[70] He also could not see through his costume's eyes, which was covered with gold to prevent corrosion.[67] Abnormal radio signals caused by the Tunisian sands made the radio-controlled R2-D2 models run out of control. Kenny Baker, who portrayed R2-D2, said: "I was incredibly grateful each time an [R2] would actually work right."[67] After several scenes were filmed against the volcanic canyons outside Tozeur, production moved to Matmata to film Luke's home on Tatooine. Lucas chose Hotel Sidi Driss, which is larger than the typical underground dwellings, to shoot the interior of Luke's homestead.[72] Additional scenes for Tatooine were filmed at Death Valley in North America.[73]

R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker

After two and a half weeks of filming in Tunisia,[72] production moved to Elstree Studios, near London.[70] This was a more controlled environment but, because of strict British working conditions, filming had to finish by 5:30 pm, unless Lucas was in the middle of a scene.[19] Elstree was chosen due to its proximity to North Africa and the availability of top technical crews. It was also the only studio of its kind in Britain or America that could cater for nine large stages at the same time and allow the company complete freedom to use its own personnel.[59] Despite Lucas's efforts, his crew had little interest in the film. Most of the crew considered the project a "children's film", rarely took their work seriously, and often found it unintentionally humorous.[8][74] Actor Baker later confessed that he thought the film would be a failure. Harrison Ford found it strange that "there's a princess with weird buns in her hair", and called Chewbacca a "giant in a monkey suit."[8]

The Elstree sets designed by John Barry, according to Gilbert Taylor, "were like a coal mine." He said that "they were all black and gray, with really no opportunities for lighting at all." To resolve the problem, he worked the lighting into the sets by chopping in its walls, ceiling and floors. This would result in "a 'cut-out' system of panel lighting", with quartz lamps that could be placed in the holes in the walls, ceiling and floors. His idea was supported by the Fox studio, which agreed that "we couldn't have this 'black hole of Calcutta.'" The lighting approach Taylor devised "allowed George to shoot in almost any direction without extensive relighting, which gave him more freedom."[71] In total, the filming in Britain took 14 and a half weeks.[72]

Tikal, Guatemala, which served as the setting of the Rebel base.

Lucas commissioned computer programmer Larry Cuba to create the animated Death Star plans shown at the rebel base on Yavin 4. This was written with the GRASS programming language, exported to a Vector General monitor and filmed on 35 mm to be rear-projected on the set. It is the only computer animation in the original version of the film.[75] The Yavin scenes were filmed in the Mayan temples at Tikal, Guatemala. Lucas selected the location as a potential filming site after seeing a poster of it hanging at a travel agency while he was filming in Britain. This inspired him to send a film crew to Guatemala in March 1977 to shoot scenes. While filming in Tikal, the crew paid locals with a six pack of beer to watch over the camera equipment for several days.[76]

While shooting, Lucas rarely spoke to the actors, who believed that he expected too much of them while providing little direction. His directions to the actors usually consisted of the words "faster" and "more intense".[8] Kurtz stated that "it happened a lot where he would just say, 'Let's try it again a little bit faster.' That was about the only instruction he'd give anybody. A lot of actors don't mind—they don't care, they just get on with it. But some actors really need a lot of pampering and a lot of feedback, and if they don't get it, they get paranoid that they might not be doing a good job." Kurtz has said that Lucas "wasn't gregarious, he's very much a loner and very shy, so he didn't like large groups of people, he didn't like working with a large crew, he didn't like working with a lot of actors."[45]

Ladd offered Lucas some of the only support from the studio; he dealt with scrutiny from board members over the rising budget and complex screenplay drafts.[8][70] Initially, Fox approved $8 million for the project; Gary Kurtz said: "we proceeded to pick a production plan and do a more final budget with a British art department and look for locations in North Africa, and kind of pulled together some things. Then, it was obvious that 8 million wasn't going to do it—they had approved 8 million." After requests from the team that "it had to be more," the executives "got a bit scared."[45] For two weeks, Lucas and his crew "didn't really do anything except kind of pull together new budget figures." At the same time, after production fell behind schedule, Ladd told Lucas he had to finish production within a week or he would be forced to shut down production. Kurtz said that "it came out to be like 9.8 or .9 or something like that, and in the end they just said, 'Yes, that's okay, we'll go ahead.'"[45] The crew split into three units, with those units led by Lucas, Kurtz, and production supervisor Robert Watts. Under the new system, the project met the studio's deadline.[8][70]

During production, the cast attempted to make Lucas laugh or smile, as he often appeared depressed. At one point, the project became so demanding that Lucas was diagnosed with hypertension and exhaustion and was warned to reduce his stress level.[8][70] Post-production was equally stressful due to increasing pressure from 20th Century-Fox. Moreover, Mark Hamill's car accident left his face visibly scarred, which restricted re-shoots.[70]

Post-production

Steven Spielberg said he was the only person in the audience to have enjoyed the film in its early cut screening.

Star Wars was originally slated for release on Christmas 1976; however, its production delays pushed the film's release to mid-1977.[77] Editor John Jympson began cutting the film together while Lucas was still filming in Tunisia; as Lucas noted, the editor was in an "impossible position" because Lucas had not explained any of the film's material to him. When Lucas watched Jympson's rough cut for the first time, he disliked what he saw. J. W. Rinzler wrote that "Jympson's selection of takes was questionable, and he seemed to be having trouble doing match-cuts." Lucas was prepared to give Jympson more time; Jympson disliked Lucas' working style.[78] As production went on, Lucas still disapproved of Jympson's cut and fired him halfway through the film's production. He commented: "Unfortunately it didn't work out. It's very hard when you are hiring people to know if they are going to mesh with you and if you are going to get what you want. In the end, I don't think he fully understood the movie and what I was trying to do. I shoot in a very peculiar way, in a documentary style, and it takes a lot of hard editing to make it work."[79] After attempting to persuade Jympson to cut the film his way, Lucas replaced him with Paul Hirsch, Richard Chew and his then-wife, Marcia Lucas, who was also cutting the film New York, New York (1977) with Lucas's friend Martin Scorsese. Richard Chew considered the film to have been cut in a slow, by-the-book manner: scenes were played out in master shots that flowed into close-up coverage. He found that the pace was dictated by the actors instead of the cuts. Hirsch and Chew worked on two reels simultaneously.[8]

Jympson's original assembly contained a large amount of footage which differed from the final cut of the film, including several alternate takes and a number of scenes which were subsequently deleted to improve the narrative pace. The most significant material cut was a series of scenes from the first part of the film which introduced Luke Skywalker. These early scenes, set in Anchorhead on the planet Tatooine, presented the audience with Luke's everyday life among his friends as it is affected by the space battle above the planet; they also introduced the character of Biggs Darklighter, Luke's closest friend who departs to join the rebellion.[80] Chew explained the rationale behind removing these scenes as a narrative decision: "In the first five minutes, we were hitting everybody with more information than they could handle. There were too many story lines to keep straight: the robots and the Princess, Vader, Luke. So we simplified it by taking out Luke and Biggs."[81] In an examination of this early cut, which has come to be called the "Lost Cut", David West Reynolds noted the film adopted a "documentary-like" approach that emphasized "clarity, especially in geographic and spatial relationships" over "dramatic or artistic concerns". As a result, the film was more "leisurely paced".[82] Reynolds estimated this early cut contained "30-40%" different footage from the final cut, with most of the differences coming from extended cuts or alternate takes rather than deleted scenes.[82]

After viewing a rough cut, Alan Ladd likened the early Anchorhead scenes to "American Graffiti in outer space." Lucas was looking for a way of accelerating the storytelling, and removing Luke's early scenes would distinguish Star Wars from his earlier teenage drama and "get that American Graffiti feel out of it."[80] Lucas also stated that he wanted to move the narrative focus to C-3PO and R2-D2: "At the time, to have the first half-hour of the film be mainly about robots was a bold idea."[83][84]

Meanwhile, Industrial Light & Magic was struggling to achieve unprecedented special effects. The company had spent half of its budget on four shots that Lucas deemed unacceptable.[70] With hundreds of uncompleted shots remaining, ILM was forced to finish a year's work in six months. Lucas inspired ILM by editing together aerial dogfights from old war films, which enhanced the pacing of the scenes.[8]

During the chaos of production and post-production, the team made decisions about character voicing and sound effects. Sound designer Ben Burtt had created a library of sounds that Lucas referred to as an "organic soundtrack." Blaster sounds were a modified recording of a steel cable, under tension, being struck. The lightsaber sound effect was developed by Burtt as a combination of the hum of idling interlock motors in aged movie projectors and interference caused by a television set on a shieldless microphone. Burtt discovered the latter accidentally as he was looking for a buzzing, sparking sound to add to the projector-motor hum.[85] For Chewbacca's growls, Burtt recorded and combined sounds made by dogs, bears, lions, tigers, and walruses to create phrases and sentences. Lucas and Burtt created the robotic voice of R2-D2 by filtering their voices through an electronic synthesizer. Darth Vader's breathing was achieved by Burtt breathing through the mask of a scuba regulator implanted with a microphone.[86]

In February 1977, Lucas screened an early cut of the film for Fox executives, several director friends, along with Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin of Marvel Comics who were preparing a Star Wars comic book. The cut had a different crawl from the finished version and used Prowse's voice for Darth Vader. It also lacked most special effects; hand-drawn arrows took the place of blaster beams, and when the Millennium Falcon fought TIE fighters, the film cut to footage of World War II dogfights.[87] The reactions of the directors present, such as Brian De Palma, John Milius, and Steven Spielberg, disappointed Lucas. Spielberg, who said he was the only person in the audience to have enjoyed the film, believed that the lack of enthusiasm was due to the absence of finished special effects. Lucas later said that the group was honest and seemed bemused by the film. In contrast, Ladd and the other studio executives loved the film; Gareth Wigan told Lucas: "This is the greatest film I've ever seen" and cried during the screening. Lucas found the experience shocking and rewarding, having never gained any approval from studio executives before.[8] The delays increased the budget from $8 million to $11 million.[88]

With the project $2 million over budget, Lucas was forced to make numerous artistic compromises to complete Star Wars. Ladd reluctantly agreed to release an extra $20,000 funding and in early 1977 second unit filming completed a number of sequences including exterior desert shots for Tatooine in Death Valley and China Lake Acres in California, and exterior Yavin jungle shots in Guatemala, along with additional studio footage to complete the Mos Eisley Cantina sequence. Lucas had planned to rework a confrontation scene between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt in Mos Eisley Spaceport by compositing a stop-motion animated model of Jabba to replace the actor Declan Mulholland, but with time and money running out, Lucas reluctantly decided to cut the scene entirely. The sequence was later re-instated in the 1997 Special Edition with a computer-generated version of Jabba.[89][90]

Soundtrack

Original vinyl release

On the recommendation of his friend Steven Spielberg, Lucas hired composer John Williams. Williams had worked with Spielberg on the film Jaws, for which he won an Academy Award. Lucas believed that the film would portray visually foreign worlds, but that the musical score would give the audience an emotional familiarity; he wanted a grand musical sound for Star Wars, with leitmotifs to provide distinction. Therefore, he assembled his favorite orchestral pieces for the soundtrack, until Williams convinced him that an original score would be unique and more unified. However, a few of Williams's pieces were influenced by the tracks given to him by Lucas: the "Main Title Theme" was inspired by the theme from the 1942 film Kings Row, scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold;[91] and the track "Dune Sea of Tatooine" drew from the soundtrack of Bicycle Thieves, scored by Alessandro Cicognini.

In March 1977, Williams conducted the London Symphony Orchestra to record the Star Wars soundtrack in 12 days.[8] The original soundtrack was released as a double LP in 1977 by 20th Century Records. 20th Century Records also released The Story of Star Wars that same year, a narrated audio drama adaptation of the film utilizing some of its original music, dialogue, and sound effects. The American Film Institute's list of best film scores ranks the Star Wars soundtrack at number one.[92]

Cinematic and literary allusions

War films such as The Dam Busters and 633 Squadron, which used aircraft like the Avro Lancaster (top) and the Mosquito (bottom), respectively, were inspirations for the battle sequences

According to Lucas, different concepts of the film were inspired by numerous sources, such as Beowulf and King Arthur for the origins of myth and religion.[8] Lucas had originally intended to remake the 1930s Flash Gordon film serials, but was unable to obtain the rights; thus, he resorted to drawing from Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film The Hidden Fortress and Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces.[35][93] Star Wars features many elements derived from Flash Gordon, such as the conflict between rebels and Imperial Forces, the wipes between scenes, the fusion of futuristic technology and traditional mythology, and the famous opening crawl that begins each film.[93][94] The film has also been compared to The Wizard of Oz.[95][96]

The influence of The Hidden Fortress can be seen in the relationship between C-3PO and R2-D2, which evolved from the two bickering peasants, Tahei and Matashichi, and a Japanese family crest seen in the earlier film is similar to the Imperial Crest. Star Wars also borrows heavily from another Kurosawa film, Yojimbo (1961).[93] In both films, several men threaten the hero, bragging about how wanted they are by the authorities, and have an arm being cut off by a blade; Kuwabatake Sanjuro (played by Toshiro Mifune) is offered "twenty-five ryo now, twenty-five when you complete the mission", whereas Han Solo is offered "Two thousand now, plus fifteen when we reach Alderaan." Its sequel Sanjuro (1962) also inspired the hiding-under-the-floor trick featured in the film.[93] Another source of influence was Lawrence of Arabia (1962), which inspired the film's visual approach, including long-lens desert shots. There are also thematic parallels, including the freedom fight by a rebel army against an empire, and politicians who meddle behind the scenes.[93]

Tatooine is similar to the desert planet of Arrakis from Frank Herbert's Dune series. Arrakis is the only known source of a longevity spice; Star Wars makes references to spice in "the spice mines of Kessel", and a spice freighter. Other similarities include those between Princess Leia and Princess Alia, and Jedi mind tricks and "The Voice", a controlling ability used by the Bene Gesserit. In passing, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are "moisture farmers"; in Dune, dew collectors are used by Fremen to "provide a small but reliable source of water."[97] Frank Herbert reported that "David Lynch, [director of the 1984 film Dune] had trouble with the fact that Star Wars used up so much of Dune." The pair found "sixteen points of identity" and they calculated that "the odds against coincidence produced a number larger than the number of stars in the universe."[98]

The Death Star assault scene was modeled after the World War II film The Dam Busters (1955), in which Royal Air Force Lancaster bombers fly along heavily defended reservoirs and aim bouncing bombs at dams, in order to cripple the heavy industry of Germany's Ruhr region.[99] Some of the dialogue in The Dam Busters is repeated in the Star Wars climax; Gilbert Taylor also filmed the special effects sequences in The Dam Busters. In addition, the sequence was partially inspired by the climax of the film 633 Squadron (1964), directed by Walter Grauman,[100] in which RAF de Havilland Mosquitos attack a German heavy water plant by flying down a narrow fjord to drop special bombs at a precise point, while avoiding anti-aircraft guns and German fighters. Clips from both films were included in Lucas's temporary dogfight footage version of the sequence.[101] There are also similarities in the Death Star trench sequence to the bridge attack scene in The Bridges at Toko-Ri.[102]

The opening shot of Star Wars, in which a detailed spaceship fills the screen overhead, is a reference to the scene introducing the interplanetary spacecraft Discovery One in Stanley Kubrick's seminal 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The earlier big-budget science fiction film influenced the look of Star Wars in many other ways, including the use of EVA pods and hexagonal corridors. The Death Star has a docking bay reminiscent of the one on the orbiting space station in 2001.[103] Although golden and male, C-3PO was inspired by the silver female robot Maria, the Maschinenmensch from Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis.[104]

Marketing

Rendition of Dan Perri's original Star Wars logotype

While the film was in production, a logo was commissioned from Dan Perri, a title sequence designer who had worked on the titles for films such as The Exorcist (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976). Perri devised a foreshortened STAR WARS logotype consisting of block-capital letters filled with stars and skewed towards a vanishing point. This logo design was originally conceived to follow the same perspective as the film's opening crawl. In the end, Perri's logo was not used for the film's opening title sequence, although it was used widely on pre-release print advertising and on cinema marquees.[105][106]

The logotype eventually selected for on-screen use originated in a promotional brochure that was distributed by Fox to cinema owners in 1976. This brochure was designed by Suzy Rice, a young art director at the Los Angeles advertising agency Seiniger Advertising. On a visit to ILM in Van Nuys, Rice was instructed by Lucas to produce a logo that would intimidate the viewer, and he reportedly asked for the logo to appear "very fascist" in style. Rice's response to her brief was to use an outlined, modified Helvetica Black. After some feedback from Lucas, Rice decided to join the S and T of STAR and the R and S of WARS. Lucas signed off on the brochure in between takes while filming inserts for the Mos Eisley Cantina scene. Gary Kurtz was impressed with Rice's logo and selected it over Perri's design for the film's opening titles, after modifying the letter W to flatten the pointed tips originally designed by Rice. This finalized the design of one of the most recognizable logos in cinema design, although Rice's contribution was not credited in the film.[105]

For the US release in 1977, 20th Century-Fox commissioned a promotional film poster from the advertising agency Smolen, Smith and Connolly. They used the freelance artist Tom Jung who was given the brief of "good over evil." His poster, known as Style ‘A’, depicted Luke Skywalker standing in a heroic pose, brandishing a shining lightsaber above his head, with Princess Leia below him, and a large, ghostly image of Darth Vader's helmet looming behind them. Some Fox executives considered this poster "too dark" and commissioned the Brothers Hildebrandt, a pair of well-known fantasy artists, to rework the poster for the UK release. When the film opened in British theaters, the Hildebrandts' Style ‘B’ poster was used in cinema billboards. Fox and Lucasfilm subsequently decided that they wanted to promote the new film with a less stylized and more realistic depiction of the lead characters. Producer Gary Kurtz turned to the film poster artist Tom Chantrell, who was already well known for his prolific work for Hammer horror films, and commissioned a new version. Two months after Star Wars opened, the Hildebrandts' poster was replaced by Chantrell's Style ‘C’ poster in UK cinemas.[107][108][109][110]

Charles Lippincott was the marketing director for Star Wars. As 20th Century-Fox gave little support for marketing beyond licensing T-shirts and posters, Lippincott was forced to look elsewhere. He secured deals with Marvel Comics for a comic book adaptation, and with Del Rey Books for a novelization. A fan of science fiction, he used his contacts to promote the film at the San Diego Comic-Con and elsewhere within science-fiction fandom.[8][46]

Release

While initially only being released in a limited theatrical run, Star Wars was an unprecedented success for 20th Century-Fox, soon becoming a blockbuster hit and expanding to a much wider release. It would eventually see many theatrical and home video re-releases.

Premiere and initial release

Worried that Star Wars would be beaten out by other summer films, such as Smokey and the Bandit, 20th Century-Fox moved the release date to May 25, the Wednesday before Memorial Day. However, fewer than 40 theaters ordered the film to be shown. In response, the studio demanded that theaters order Star Wars if they wanted the eagerly anticipated The Other Side of Midnight based on Sidney Sheldon's 1973 novel by the same name.[8]

On opening day I ... did a radio call-in show ... this caller, was really enthusiastic and talking about the movie in really deep detail. I said, 'You know a lot about the film.' He said, 'Yeah, yeah, I've seen it four times already.'

—Producer Gary Kurtz, on when he realized Star Wars had become a cultural phenomenon[111]

Star Wars debuted on Wednesday, May 25, 1977, in fewer than 32 theaters, and eight more on Thursday and Friday. Kurtz said in 2002, "That would be laughable today." It immediately broke box office records, effectively becoming one of the first blockbuster films, and Fox accelerated plans to broaden its release.[46][112] Lucas himself was not able to predict how successful Star Wars would be. After visiting the set of the Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Lucas was sure Close Encounters would outperform the yet-to-be-released Star Wars at the box office. Spielberg disagreed, and believed Star Wars would be the bigger hit. Lucas proposed they trade 2.5% of the profit on each other's films; Spielberg took the trade, and still receives 2.5% of the profits from Star Wars.[113]

Fox initially had doubts if Star Wars would emerge successful. Amidst Fox pessimism, Lucas elected to forgo his option to an extra $500,000 fee for directing Star Wars, in exchange for releasing ownership of the merchandising and sequel rights for the movie to Fox.[114] The Other Side of Midnight was supposed to be the studio's big summer hit, while Lucas's movie was considered the "B track" for theater owners nationwide. While Fox requested Mann's Chinese Theatre, the studio promised that the film only needed two weeks.[115] Fearing that the film would fail, Lucas had made plans to be in Hawaii with his wife Marcia. Having forgotten that the film would open that day,[116] he spent most of 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.[70] He was still skeptical of the film's success, even with enthusiastic reports from Ladd and the studio. While in Hawaii, it was not until he watched Walter Cronkite discuss the gigantic crowds for Star Wars on the CBS Evening News that Lucas realized he had become very wealthy. Francis Ford Coppola, who needed money to finish Apocalypse Now, sent a telegram to Lucas's hotel asking for funding.[116] Even technical crew members, such as model makers, were asked for autographs, and cast members became instant household names;[8] when Ford visited a record store to buy an album, enthusiastic fans tore half his shirt off.[116]

The film was a huge success for 20th Century-Fox, and was credited for reinvigorating the company. Within three weeks of the film's release, the studio's stock price had doubled to a record high. Prior to 1977, 20th Century-Fox's greatest annual profits were $37 million, while in 1977, the company broke that record by posting a profit of $79 million.[8] Although the film's cultural neutrality helped it to gain international success, Ladd became anxious during the premiere in Japan. After the screening, the audience was silent, leading him to fear that the film would be unsuccessful. Ladd was reassured by his local contacts that this was a positive reaction considering that in Japan, silence was the greatest honor to a film, and the subsequent strong box office returns confirmed its popularity.[8]

After two weeks William Friedkin's Sorcerer replaced Star Wars at Mann's Chinese Theatre because of contractual obligations; Mann Theatres moved the film to a less-prestigious location after quickly renovating it.[115] When Star Wars made an unprecedented second opening at Mann's Chinese Theatre on August 3, 1977, after Sorcerer failed, thousands of people attended a ceremony in which C-3PO, R2-D2 and Darth Vader placed their footprints in the theater's forecourt.[112][8] At that time Star Wars was playing in 1,096 theaters in the United States.[117] Approximately 60 theaters played the film continuously for over a year;[118] in 1978, Lucasfilm distributed "Birthday Cake" posters to those theaters for special events on May 25, the one-year anniversary of the film's release.[119] Star Wars premiered in the UK on December 27, 1977. News reports of the film's popularity in America caused long lines to form at the two London theaters that first offered the film; it became available in 12 large cities in January 1978, and other London theaters in February.[120]

Theatrical re-releases

Star Wars was re-released theatrically in 1978, 1979, 1981 and 1982,[121] with the subtitle Episode IV – A New Hope being added in 1981. The film was digitally remastered with some altered scenes in 1997 for a theatrical rerelease, dubbed the "Special Edition." Since its original release, the film has also been dubbed and subtitled into numerous languages. In 2010, Lucas announced that all six previously released Star Wars films would be scanned and transferred to 3D for a theatrical release, but only 3D versions of the prequel trilogy were completed before the franchise was sold to Disney in 2012.[122] In 2013, Star Wars was dubbed into Navajo, making it the first major motion picture translated into a Native American language.[123][124]

Inclusion of subtitles

Introductory graphics for the film that, with similararity to the other films in the Skywalker Saga, feature Suzy Rice's Star Wars logotype and that, in the film's cinematic releases from 1981, feature the texts "Episode IV" and "A New Hope" at the head of the opening crawl.

The texts Episode IV and A New Hope were first published on a title page for the film's script in the 1979 book The Art of Star Wars,[a] and added to the opening crawl in re-releases.[19][126] Official sources state that the change was made at the theatrical re-release of April 10, 1981.[127][128][b]

The retronymic inclusion of subtitles brought the film into line with the introduction to its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, which was released in 1980 bearing the designation "Episode V".[129][130] Lucas had previously said, "Star Wars was the fourth story in the saga and was to have been called 'Star Wars, Episode Four: A New Hope'", but that he dropped the numbering system to avoid confusing audiences.[131]

In 2014, Kurtz was reported as saying that they had toyed with the idea of calling it Episode III, IV, or V to get a "What the hell?" reaction from the audience while making the film as much like Flash Gordon as possible, but said that Fox hated the idea.[132][c] In 2016, Hamill said that he had asked Lucas, "Why are we doing episode four?" Lucas responded, "they're supposed to be like the old Flash Gordon serials" and that he "wanted to give the audience a feeling that they'd missed something and that they were coming into the middle of this story."[136]

Special Edition

The 20th anniversary theatrical release poster of the 1997 Special Edition version of the film (art by Drew Struzan)

After ILM used computer-generated effects for Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Jurassic Park, Lucas decided that digital technology had caught up to his "original vision" for Star Wars.[8] For the film's 20th anniversary in 1997, Star Wars was digitally remastered with some altered scenes and re-released to theaters, along with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, under the campaign title Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. This version of the film runs 124 minutes.

The Special Edition contains visual shots and scenes that were unachievable in the original release due to financial, technological, and time constraints; one such scene involves a meeting between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt.[8] The process of creating the new visual effects for Star Wars was featured in the documentary film, Special Effects: Anything Can Happen, directed by Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt.[137] Although most changes are minor or cosmetic in nature, many fans and critics believe that Lucas degraded the film with the additions.[138][139][140][141] A particularly controversial change in which a bounty hunter named Greedo shoots first when confronting Han Solo has inspired T-shirts bearing the phrase "Han Shot First."[142][143][144]

Star Wars required extensive recovery of misplaced footage and restoration of the whole film before Lucas's Special Edition modifications could be attempted. It was discovered that in addition to the negative motion picture stocks commonly used on feature films, Lucas had also used Color Reversal Internegative (CRI) film, a reversal stock subsequently discontinued by Kodak. CRI proved to deteriorate faster than negative stocks did, although it theoretically was of higher quality, as it saved two generations (an interpositive followed by an internegative), where employed. Because of this, the entire composited negative had to be disassembled, and the CRI portions cleaned separately from the negative portions. Once the cleaning was complete, the film was scanned into the computer for restoration. In many cases, entire scenes had to be reconstructed from their individual elements. Digital compositing technology allowed the restorers to correct for problems such as misalignment of mattes and "blue-spill."[145]

In 1989, the 1977 theatrical version of Star Wars was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress.[6] 35mm reels of the 1997 Special Edition were initially presented for preservation because of the difficulty of transferring from the original prints,[146] but it was later revealed that the Library possessed a copyright deposit print of the original theatrical release. By 2015, this copy had been transferred to a 2K scan, now available to be viewed by appointment.[147]

Home media

In the United States, France, West Germany, Italy and Japan, parts of or the whole film were released on Super 8.[148] The whole film was released for all these countries (including silent editions and an American Spanish-language edition), except for Italy, where it was released by IE International as seven brief scenes: Battaglia spaziale ("Space battle", the Battle of Yavin), Duello col laser ("Duel with the laser",[d] Obi-Wan and Darth Vader's duel), La liberazione di Leia ("Leia's liberation", the adventure on the Death Star), Messaggio dallo spazio ("Message from space", Leia giving R2-D2 the plans), SOS nella galassia ("SOS in the galaxy") and Trappola mortale ("Deadly trap", the Falcon being captured by the Death Star).

Star Wars debuted on Betamax,[149] CED,[150] LaserDisc,[151] Video 2000, and VHS[152][153] between the 1980s and 1990s by CBS/Fox Video. The final issue of the original theatrical release (pre-Special Edition) to VHS format occurred in 1995, as part of "Last Chance to Own the Original" campaign, available as part of a trilogy set and as a standalone purchase.[154] The film was released for the first time on DVD on September 21, 2004, in a box set with The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and a bonus disc of supplementary material. The films were digitally restored and remastered, and more changes were made by Lucas. The DVD features a commentary track from Lucas, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher. The bonus disc contains the documentary Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy, three featurettes, teasers, theatrical trailers, TV spots, still galleries, an exclusive preview of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, a playable Xbox demo of the LucasArts game Star Wars: Battlefront, and a making-of documentary on the Episode III video game.[155] The set was reissued in December 2005 as part of a three-disc limited edition boxed set without the bonus disc.[156]

The trilogy was re-released on separate two-disc limited edition DVD sets from September 12 to December 31, 2006, and again in a limited edition tin box set on November 4, 2008;[157] the original versions of the films were added as bonus material. The release was met with criticism as the unaltered versions were from the 1993 non-anamorphic LaserDisc masters and were not re-transferred using modern video standards. The transfer led to problems with colors and digital image jarring.[158]

All six Star Wars films were released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on Blu-ray Disc on September 16, 2011 in three different editions, with A New Hope available in both a box set of the original trilogy[159][160] and with all six films on Star Wars: The Complete Saga, which includes nine discs and over 40 hours of special features.[161] The original theatrical versions of the films were not included in the box set. New changes were made to the films, provoking mixed responses.[162]

On April 7, 2015, Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, and Lucasfilm jointly announced the digital releases of the six released Star Wars films. Fox released A New Hope for digital download on April 10, 2015.[e][163][164] In December 2016, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards revealed that Lucasfilm had recently completed a 4K restoration of Star Wars, but did not elaborate on whether the restored version was based on the 1977 original or a subsequent re-release.[165]

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment reissued the film on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download on September 22, 2019.[166] Additionally, all six films were available for 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos streaming on Disney+ upon the service's launch on November 12, 2019.[167] This version of the film was released by Disney on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray box set on March 31, 2020.[168]

Reception

Box office

Star Wars remains one of the most financially successful films of all time. The film opened on a Wednesday in 32 theaters expanding to 43 screens on the Friday and earning $2,556,418 in its first six days to the end of the Memorial Day weekend[169] ($10.8 million in 2019 dollars). It gradually added screens, building up to $7 million weekends as it entered wide release ($29.5 million in 2019 dollars).[3] It replaced Jaws as the highest-earning film in North America just six months into release,[170] eventually earning over $220 million during its initial theatrical run ($928 million in 2019 dollars).[171] Star Wars entered international release towards the end of the year, and in 1978 added the worldwide record to its domestic one,[172] earning $410 million in total ($1.699 billion in 2018 dollars).[173]

On July 21, 1978 while still in current release in 38 theaters in the U.S., the film expanded into a 1,744 theater national saturation windup of release and set a new U.S. weekend record of $10,202,726.[174][175][176] The gross prior to the expansion was $221,280,994. The expansion added a further $43,774,911 to take its gross to $265,055,905. Reissues in 1979 ($22,455,262), 1981 ($17,247,363), and 1982 ($17,981,612) brought its cumulative gross in the U.S and Canada to $323 million,[177][178] and extended its global earnings to $530 million.[179] The film remained the highest-grossing film of all time until E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial broke that record in 1983.[180]

Following the release of the Special Edition in 1997,[181] Star Wars briefly reclaimed the North American record before losing it again the following year to Titanic.[182] In total, the film has earned $775,398,007 worldwide (including $460,998,007 in North America alone).[3] Adjusted for inflation, it has earned over $2.5 billion worldwide at 2011 prices, making it the most successful franchise film of all time.[183] According to Guinness World Records, the film ranks as the third-highest-grossing film when adjusting for inflation;[184] at the North American box office, it ranks second behind Gone with the Wind on the inflation-adjusted list.[185]

Critical response

What makes the Star Wars experience unique, though, is that it happens on such an innocent and often funny level. It's usually violence that draws me so deeply into a movie—violence ranging from the psychological torment of a Bergman character to the mindless crunch of a shark's jaws. Maybe movies that scare us find the most direct route to our imaginations. But there's hardly any violence at all in Star Wars (and even then it's presented as essentially bloodless swashbuckling). Instead, there's entertainment so direct and simple that all of the complications of the modern movie seem to vaporize.

Roger Ebert, in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times[186]

The film was met with critical acclaim upon its release. In his 1977 review, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "an out-of-body experience," compared its special effects to those of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and opined that the true strength of the film was its "pure narrative."[186] Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "the movie that's going to entertain a lot of contemporary folk who have a soft spot for the virtually ritualized manners of comic-book adventure" and "the most elaborate, most expensive, most beautiful movie serial ever made."[187] A.D. Murphy of Variety described the film as "magnificent" and said George Lucas had succeeded in his attempt to create the "biggest possible adventure fantasy" based on the serials and older action epics from his childhood.[188] Writing for The Washington Post, Gary Arnold gave the film a positive review, writing that the film "is a new classic in a rousing movie tradition: a space swashbuckler."[189] However, the film was not without its detractors: Pauline Kael of The New Yorker criticized Star Wars, stating that "there's no breather in the picture, no lyricism", and that it had no "emotional grip."[190] John Simon of New York magazine also panned the film and wrote, "Strip Star Wars of its often striking images and its highfalutin scientific jargon, and you get a story, characters, and dialogue of overwhelming banality."[191] Stanley Kauffmann, reviewing the film in The New Republic, opined that it "was made for those (particularly males) who carry a portable shrine within them of their adolescence, a chalice of a Self that was Better Then, before the world's affairs or—in any complex way—sex intruded."[192]

When Star Wars opened in the UK, stating that Lucas's earlier films were better, Derek Malcolm of The Guardian concluded that it "plays enough games to satisfy the most sophisticated."[193] The Daily Telegraph's science correspondent Adrian Berry said that Star Wars "is the best such film since 2001 and in certain respects it is one of the most exciting ever made." He described the plot as "unpretentious and pleasantly devoid of any 'message.'"[194] A few critics found fault in the lack of representation of African Americans in the space fantasy, with a writer for New Journal and Guide calling it "one of the most racist movies ever produced", pointing out that "the force of evil ... is dressed in all black and has the voice of a black man."[195] Lucas felt hurt at the accusations.[196]

The film continues to receive critical acclaim from modern critics. The film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes indicates a 92% approval rating based on 125 reviews with an overall rating of 8.81/10. Its consensus states in summary, "A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster filmmaking and things have never been the same."[197] Metacritic reports an aggregate score of 90 out of 100 (based on 24 reviews), indicating "universal acclaim."[198] In his 1997 review of the film's 20th anniversary release, Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune gave the film four out of four stars, saying, "A grandiose and violent epic with a simple and whimsical heart."[199] A San Francisco Chronicle staff member described the film as "a thrilling experience."[200] In 2001 Matt Ford of the BBC awarded the film five out of five stars and wrote, "Star Wars isn't the best film ever made, but it is universally loved."[201] CinemaScore reported that audiences for Star Wars's 1999 re-release gave the film a "A+" grade.[202]

Gene Siskel, writing for the Chicago Tribune in 1999, said, "What places it a sizable cut above the routine is its spectacular visual effects, the best since Stanley Kubrick's 2001."[203] Andrew Collins of Empire magazine awarded the film five out of five and said, "Star Wars' timeless appeal lies in its easily identified, universal archetypes—goodies to root for, baddies to boo, a princess to be rescued and so on—and if it is most obviously dated to the 70s by the special effects, so be it."[204] In his 2009 review, Robert Hatch of The Nation called the film "an outrageously successful, what will be called a 'classic,' compilation of nonsense, largely derived but thoroughly reconditioned. I doubt that anyone will ever match it, though the imitations must already be on the drawing boards."[205] In a more critical review, Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader stated, "None of these characters has any depth, and they're all treated like the fanciful props and settings."[206] Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix said, "Star Wars is a junkyard of cinematic gimcracks not unlike the Jawas' heap of purloined, discarded, barely functioning droids."[207]

Accolades

Alec Guinness, shown here in 1973, received multiple award nominations, including one from the Academy, for his performance as Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. To date, he is the only actor to have been nominated for acting in a Star Wars film.

The film garnered numerous accolades after its release. Star Wars won six competitive Academy Awards at the 50th Academy Awards: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects. A Special Achievement for Sound Effects Editing went to sound designer Ben Burtt[208] and a Scientific and Engineering Award went to John Dykstra for the development of the Dykstraflex Camera (shared with Alvah J. Miller and Jerry Jeffress, who were both granted for the engineering of the Electronic Motion Control System).[209] Additional nominations included Alec Guinness for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, which went to Jason Robards for Julia and George Lucas for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture, which were instead awarded to Woody Allen's Annie Hall.[208]

At the 35th Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Alec Guinness), and it won the award for Best Score.[210] It received six British Academy Film Awards nominations: Best Film, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Production/Art Design, Best Sound, and Best Score; the film won in the latter two categories.[211] John Williams's soundtrack album won the Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Score for a Motion Picture or Television Program,[212] and the film attained the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.[213]

The film also received twelve nominations at the Saturn Awards, winning nine: Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction and Best Writing for George Lucas, Best Supporting Actor for Alec Guinness, Best Music for John Williams, Best Costume for John Mollo, Best Make-up for Rick Baker and Stuart Freeborn, Best Special Effects for John Dykstra and John Stears, and Outstanding Editing for Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew.[214]

Musician John Williams received the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award and Saturn Award for Star Wars music
Organization Category Nominee Result
Academy Awards Best Picture Gary Kurtz Nominated
Best Director George Lucas Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Alec Guinness Nominated
Best Original Screenplay George Lucas Nominated
Best Costume Design John Mollo Won
Best Film Editing Paul Hirsch Won
Marcia Lucas Won
Richard Chew Won
Best Original Score John Williams Won
Best Production Design John Barry Won
Norman Reynolds Won
Leslie Dilley Won
Roger Christian Won
Best Sound Mixing Don MacDougall Won
Ray West Won
Bob Minkler Won
Derek Ball Won
Best Visual Effects John Stears Won
John Dykstra Won
Richard Edlund Won
Grant McCune Won
Robert Blalack Won
Special Achievement Academy Award Ben Burtt Won
American Music Awards Favorite Pop/Rock Album John Williams Nominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Film Gary Kurtz Nominated
Best Costume Design John Mollo Nominated
Best Editing Paul Hirsch Nominated
Marcia Lucas Nominated
Richard Chew Nominated
Best Original Music John Williams Won
Best Production Design John Barry Nominated
Best Sound Sam Shaw Won
Robert Rutledge Won
Gordon Davidson Won
Gene Corso Won
Derek Ball Won
Don MacDougall Won
Bob Minkler Won
Ray West Won
Michael Minkler Won
Les Fresholtz Won
Richard Portman Won
Ben Burtt Won
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directing – Feature Film George Lucas Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama Gary Kurtz Nominated
Best Director George Lucas Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Alec Guinness Nominated
Best Original Score John Williams Won
Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Film Gary Kurtz Won
Best Director George Lucas Won
Best Actor Harrison Ford Nominated
Mark Hamill Nominated
Best Actress Carrie Fisher Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Alec Guinness Won
Peter Cushing Nominated
Best Writing George Lucas Won
Best Costume Design John Mollo Won
Best Make-up Rick Baker Won
Stuart Freeborn Won
Best Music John Williams Won
Best Special Effects John Dykstra Won
John Stears Won
Best Art Ditection Norman Reynolds Won
Leslie Dilley Won
Best Cinematography Gilbert Taylor Won
Best Editing Paul Hirsch Won
Marcia Lucas Won
Richard Chew Won
Best Set Decoration Roger Christian Won
Best Sound Ben Burtt Won
Don MacDougall Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Original Screenplay George Lucas Nominated

Legacy

The original Star Wars trilogy is considered one of the best film trilogies in history.[215] Lucas has often stated that the entire trilogy was intended to be considered one film. However, he said that his story material for Star Wars was too long for a single film, prompting Lucas to split the story into multiple films.[8][216][217] Lucas also stated that the story evolved over time and that "There was never a script completed that had the entire story as it exists now [in 1983] ... As the stories unfolded, I would take certain ideas and save them ... I kept taking out all the good parts, and I just kept telling myself I would make other movies someday."[218] In early interviews, it was suggested the series might comprise nine or twelve films.[219]

Star Wars launched the careers of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher.[8] Ford, who subsequently starred in the Indiana Jones series (1981–1989, 2008), Blade Runner (1982), and Witness (1985) after working on the film, told the Daily Mirror that Star Wars "boosted my career", and said, "I think the great luck of my career is that I've made these family movies which are introduced to succeeding generations of kids by their families at the time it seems appropriate."[220]

The film has spawned a series of films consisting of three trilogies (including the original film), anthology films and an extensive media franchise called the Star Wars expanded universe including books, television series, computer and video games, and comic books. All of the main films have been box office successes, with the overall box office revenue generated by the Star Wars films (including the animated The Clone Wars) totaling over $10.1 billion,[221] making it the second highest-grossing film series as of 2019.[222]

The film also spawned the Star Wars Holiday Special, which debuted on CBS on November 17, 1978 and is often considered a failure; Lucas himself disowned it.[223] The special has never been aired after its original broadcast, and it has never been officially released on home video. However, many bootleg copies exist, and the special has consequently become something of an underground legend.[224]

A radio drama adaptation of the film was broadcast on the American National Public Radio network in 1981. The adaptation was written by Brian Daley and directed by John Madden, and was produced with cooperation from George Lucas, who donated the rights to NPR. John Williams's music and Ben Burtt's sound design were retained for the show, and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) reprised their roles.[225] The radio drama narrative began with a version of the backstory to the film which relates Princess Leia's acquisition of the secret Death Star plans. It also featured scenes not seen in the final cut of the film, such as Luke Skywalker's observation of the space battle above Tatooine through binoculars, a skyhopper race, and Darth Vader's interrogation of Princess Leia. The radio version was originally considered to be part of the official Star Wars canon,[226][227] but has since been supplanted by revised canonical narratives.[228]

In popular culture

Star Wars and its ensuing film installments have been explicitly referenced and satirized across a wide range of media. Hardware Wars, released in 1978, was one of the first fan films to parody Star Wars.[229] It received positive critical reaction, went to earn over $1 million, and is one of Lucas's favorite Star Wars spoofs.[230][231][232] Writing for The New York Times, Frank DeCaro said, "Star Wars littered pop culture of the late 1970s with a galaxy of space junk."[233] He cited Quark (a short-lived 1977 sitcom that parodies the science fiction genre)[233] and Donny & Marie (a 1970s variety show that produced a 10-minute musical adaptation of Star Wars guest starring Daniels and Mayhew)[234] as "television's two most infamous examples."[233] Mel Brooks's Spaceballs, a satirical comic science fiction parody, was released in 1987 to mixed reviews.[235] Lucas permitted Brooks to make a spoof of the film under "one incredibly big restriction: no action figures."[236]

Contemporary animated comedy TV series Family Guy,[237] Robot Chicken,[238] and The Simpsons[239] have produced episodes satirizing the film series. Star Wars, together with Lucas, is the subject of the 2010 documentary film The People vs. George Lucas that details the issues of filmmaking and fanaticism pertaining to the film franchise and its creator.[240] Many elements of the film have also endured presence in popular culture. The iconic weapon of choice of the Jedi, the lightsaber, was voted as the most popular weapon in film history in a survey of approximately 2,000 film fans.[241] Characters such as Darth Vader, Han Solo, and Yoda have become iconic, and all three were named in the top twenty of the British Film Institute's "Best Sci-Fi Characters of All-Time" list.[242] The expressions "Evil empire" and "May the Force be with you" have become part of the popular lexicon.[243] A pun on the latter phrase has led to May 4 being regarded by many fans of the franchise as an unofficial Star Wars Day.[244] To commemorate the film's 30th anniversary in May 2007, the United States Postal Service issued a set of 15 stamps depicting the characters of the franchise. Approximately 400 mailboxes across the country were also designed to look like R2-D2.[245]

Cinematic influence

Film critic Roger Ebert wrote in his book The Great Movies, "Like The Birth of a Nation and Citizen Kane, Star Wars was a technical watershed that influenced many of the movies that came after." It began a new generation of special effects and high-energy motion pictures. The film was one of the first films to link genres together to invent a new, high-concept genre for filmmakers to build upon.[61] Finally, along with Steven Spielberg's Jaws, it shifted the film industry's focus away from personal filmmaking of the 1970s and towards fast-paced, big-budget blockbusters for younger audiences.[8][246][247]

Filmmakers who have said to have been influenced by Star Wars include James Cameron, J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Dean Devlin, Gareth Edwards,[248] Roland Emmerich, John Lasseter,[249] David Fincher, Peter Jackson, Joss Whedon, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, John Singleton, and Kevin Smith.[61] Scott, Cameron, and Jackson were influenced by Lucas's concept of the "used future" (where vehicles and culture are obviously dated) and extended the concept for their films, such as Scott's science fiction films Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982), Cameron's acclaimed sequel Aliens (1986) and his earlier breakthrough film The Terminator (1984). Jackson used the concept for his production of The Lord of the Rings trilogy to add a sense of realism and believability.[61] Christopher Nolan cited Star Wars as an influence when making the 2010 blockbuster film, Inception.[250]

Some critics have blamed Star Wars, as well as Jaws, for ruining Hollywood by shifting its focus from "sophisticated" films such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Annie Hall to films about spectacle and juvenile fantasy.[251] One such critic, Peter Biskind, complained, "When all was said and done, Lucas and Spielberg returned the 1970s audience, grown sophisticated on a diet of European and New Hollywood films, to the simplicities of the pre-1960s Golden Age of movies... They marched backward through the looking-glass."[251][116] In an opposing view, Tom Shone wrote that through Star Wars and Jaws, Lucas and Spielberg "didn't betray cinema at all: they plugged it back into the grid, returning the medium to its roots as a carnival sideshow, a magic act, one big special effect", which was "a kind of rebirth."[247]

Recognition

In its May 30, 1977 issue, the film's year of release, Time magazine named Star Wars the "Movie of the Year." The publication said it was a "big early supporter" of the vision which would become Star Wars. In an article intended for the cover of the issue, Time's Gerald Clarke wrote that Star Wars is "a grand and glorious film that may well be the smash hit of 1977, and certainly is the best movie of the year so far. The result is a remarkable confection: a subliminal history of the movies, wrapped in a riveting tale of suspense and adventure, ornamented with some of the most ingenious special effects ever contrived for film." Each of the subsequent films of the Star Wars saga has appeared on the magazine's cover.[252]

Star Wars was voted the second most popular film by Americans in a 2008 nationwide poll conducted by the market research firm, Harris Interactive.[261] Star Wars has also been featured in several high-profile audience polls: in 1997, it ranked as the 10th Greatest American Film on the Los Angeles Daily News Readers' Poll;[262] in 2002, the film and its sequel The Empire Strikes Back were voted as the greatest films ever made in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Films poll;[263] in 2011, it ranked as Best Sci-Fi Film on Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time, a primetime special aired by ABC that counted down the best films as chosen by fans, based on results of a poll conducted by ABC and People magazine; in 2014 the film placed 11th in a poll undertaken by The Hollywood Reporter, which balloted every studio, agency, publicity firm, and production house in the Hollywood region.[264]

Reputable publications also have included Star Wars in their best films lists: in 2008, Empire magazine ranked Star Wars at No. 22 on its list of the "500 Greatest Movies of All Time";[265] in 2010, the film ranked among the "All-Time 100" list of the greatest films as chosen by Time magazine film critic Richard Schickel;[266] the film was also placed on a similar list created by The New York Times, "The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made";[267] in 2012, the film was included in Sight & Sound's prestigious decennial critics poll "Critics' Top 250 Films", ranking at 171st on the list, and in their directors poll at 224th.[268]

Lucas's original screenplay was selected by the Writers Guild of America as the 68th greatest of all time.[269] In 1989, the United States Library of Congress named Star Wars among its first selections to the National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"; at the time, it was the most recent film to be selected and it was the only film from the 1970s to be chosen.[6] Although Lucas declined to provide the Library with a workable copy of the original film upon request (instead offering the Special Edition), a viewable scan was made of the original copyright deposit print.[146][147] The soundtrack was added to the United States National Recording Registry 15 years later (in 2004).[270] The lack of a commercially available version of the 1977 original theatrical edit of the film since early '80s VHS releases has spawned numerous restorations by disgruntled fans over the years, such as Harmy's Despecialized Edition.[271]

In addition to the film's multiple awards and nominations, Star Wars has also been recognized by the American Film Institute on several of its lists. The film ranks first on 100 Years of Film Scores,[92] second on Top 10 Sci-Fi Films,[259] 15th on 100 Years...100 Movies[253] (ranked 13th on the updated 10th anniversary edition),[258] 27th on 100 Years...100 Thrills,[254] and 39th on 100 Years...100 Cheers.[257] In addition, the quote "May the Force be with you" is ranked eighth on 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes,[256] and Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi are ranked as the 14th and 37th greatest heroes respectively on 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains.[255]

Merchandising

Little Star Wars merchandise was available for several months after the film's debut, as only Kenner Products had accepted marketing director Charles Lippincott's licensing offers. Kenner responded to the sudden demand for toys by selling boxed vouchers in its "empty box" Christmas campaign. Television commercials told children and parents that vouchers within a "Star Wars Early Bird Certificate Package" could be redeemed for four action figures between February and June 1978.[8] Jay West of the Los Angeles Times said that the boxes in the campaign "became the most coveted empty box[es] in the history of retail."[272] In 2012, the Star Wars action figures were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.[273]

The novelization of the film was published as Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker in December 1976, six months before the film was released. The credited author was George Lucas, but the book was revealed to have been ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster. Marketing director Charles Lippincott secured the deal with Del Rey Books to publish the novelization in November 1976. By February 1977, a half million copies had been sold.[8] Foster also wrote the sequel novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye (1978) to be adapted as a low-budget film if Star Wars was not a financial success.[274]

Marvel Comics also adapted the film as the first six issues of its licensed Star Wars comic book, with the first issue sold in April 1977. Roy Thomas was the writer and Howard Chaykin was the artist of the adaptation. Like the novelization, it contained certain elements, such as the scene with Luke and Biggs, that appeared in the screenplay but not in the finished film.[87] The series was so successful that, according to Jim Shooter, it "single-handedly saved Marvel."[275] In 2013, Dark Horse Comics published a comic adaption of the original screenplay's plot.[276]

Lucasfilm adapted the story for a children's book-and-record set. Released in 1979, the 24-page Star Wars read-along book was accompanied by a 33⅓ rpm 7-inch phonograph record. Each page of the book contained a cropped frame from the movie with an abridged and condensed version of the story. The record was produced by Buena Vista Records, and its content was copyrighted by Black Falcon, Ltd., a subsidiary of Lucasfilm "formed to handle the merchandising for Star Wars."[277] The Story of Star Wars was a 1977 record album presenting an abridged version of the events depicted in Star Wars, using dialogue and sound effects from the original film. The recording was produced by George Lucas and Alan Livingston, and was narrated by Roscoe Lee Browne. The script was adapted by E. Jack Kaplan and Cheryl Gard.[citation needed]

An audio CD boxed set of the Star Wars radio series was released in 1993, containing the original 1981 radio drama along with the radio adaptations of the sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.[278]

Sequels

A sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, was released in 1980.

See also

References

Footnotes

  1. ^ The main title page for the film's script had the lines of text and graphical elements: STAR WARS; double horizontal lines; EPISODE; IV; A NEW HOPE; FROM THE; JOURNAL OF THE WHILLS; BY; GEORGE LUCAS; 12 height sequenced character images from R2-D2 to Chewbacca; REVISED FOURTH DRAFT; JANUARY 15, 1976; horizontal line; LUCASFILM LTD.; 7 [page#][125] The script, interspersed with illustrations, then spans 128 pages of the 175-page book.
  2. ^ One account[130] places the title change at the film's re-release in July 1978. (Hearn 2005, p. 124)
  3. ^ Some of Lucas's early script drafts bear titles such as "The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): The Star Wars" (1975) or "The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as Taken from the Journal of the Whills: Saga One: Star Wars" (1976).[133][134][135]
  4. ^ In Italian, the lightsabers are known as "spade laser" ("laser swords", which was their original name).
  5. ^ Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the other five films.

Citations

  1. ^ "Star Wars". British Board of Film Classification. Archived from the original on January 27, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  2. ^ "Star Wars (1977)". Archived from the original on July 9, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d "Star Wars (1977)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on March 12, 2012. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
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  • J. W. Rinzler (2007). The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film, Quarto Publishing, ISBN 978-1781311905
  • Bailey, T. J. (2005). Devising a Dream: A Book of Star Wars Facts and Production Timeline. Louisville, KY: Wasteland Press. ISBN 1-933265-55-8.
  • Blackman, W. Haden (2004). The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology, Revised Edition (Star Wars). New York: Del Rey. ISBN 0-345-44903-7.
  • Steven A. Galipeau (2001). The Journey of Luke Skywalker: An Analysis of Modern Myth and Symbol, Open Court, ISBN 978-0812694321
  • Sansweet, Stephen (1992). Star Wars: From Concept to Screen to Collectible. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-0101-2.

External links

21 April 1977

Annie opens on Broadway.

Annie
Annie Musical Poster.jpg
Original Broadway Windowcard
MusicCharles Strouse
LyricsMartin Charnin
BookThomas Meehan
BasisLittle Orphan Annie
by Harold Gray
Productions1976 Goodspeed Opera House
1977 Broadway
1978 West End
1978 Australia tour
1978 North American tour
1978 US tour
1979 US tour
1981 US tour
1982 Film
1983 West End revival
1997 Broadway revival
1998 West End revival
1999 US television
2000 UK tour
2000 Australia tour
2005 US tour
2006 UK tour
2011 UK tour
2011 Australia tour
2012 Broadway revival
2014 Film
2014 US tour
2015 UK tour
2017 West End revival
AwardsTony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Original Score
Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical

Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan. The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon Theatre).[1] It spawned numerous productions in many countries, as well as national tours, and won 7 Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical. The musical's songs "Tomorrow" and "It's the Hard Knock Life" are among its most popular musical numbers.

Plot

Act 1

In 1933, eleven-year-old Annie is in the Municipal Girls Orphanage, along with multiple other orphans. When six-year-old Molly awakes from a bad dream, she angers the older orphans Pepper and Duffy. July tells them to hush up and eventually gets into a fight with Pepper. Annie gets up and tells everyone to go back to sleep. Molly then asks if Annie could read her note from when her parents left her at the orphanage. Duffy and Pepper are yet again irritated, as they've heard this note many times. As the others mock her, Annie wonders when her parents will return ("Maybe").

Annie decides to escape to find her parents, but is caught by Miss Hannigan, the drunken owner of the orphanage. She forces the girls to clean and they lament the terrible conditions of the orphanage ("It's the Hard Knock Life"). Later on, Mr. Bundles the laundry man comes in to pick up the blankets, allowing Annie to escape in his truck. Miss Hannigan realizes she’s gone and chases after the truck. The other orphans express their frustration, as they know they’ll be punished ("Hard Knock Life (Reprise)").

Annie successfully escapes, running into a friendly stray dog. As she comforts him, she tells him of better days yet to come ("Tomorrow"). The dog catcher is after him, so she pretends the dog is hers by calling him Sandy. She convinces the dog catcher and stumbles upon a Hooverville, where people made homeless by the Great Depression have come together as a community ("We'd Like to Thank You"). However, policeman Lt. Ward, who has been sent by Miss Hannigan, catches Annie and takes her back to the orphanage.

Grace Farrell, assistant to the billionaire Oliver Warbucks, comes to the orphanage asking for an orphan to come to his mansion for Christmas. Because Annie was in Miss Hannigan's office, Grace asks to take her, and Miss Hannigan reluctantly agrees. Once they leave, Miss Hannigan explodes with her hatred for all the girls in the orphanage ("Little Girls").

Meanwhile, at the Warbucks Mansion, the staff welcomes Annie with open arms ("I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here"), when Oliver Warbucks comes back. He isn't happy to have an orphan in his mansion. He asks Grace to take Annie to a movie, but Annie persuades him to come too. As he and Annie begin to like each other, they enjoy a fabulous night in New York City ("N.Y.C.").

Back at the orphanage, Miss Hannigan's ne'er-do-well brother, Rooster, and his unscrupulous girlfriend, Lily, pay a visit. Miss Hannigan mentions that Annie is staying at a billionaire's house, and they decide they can use this situation to their advantage, though they do not yet know how ("Easy Street").

Warbucks sees a broken locket around Annie's neck, and buys her a new one from Tiffany & Co. He debates with himself on whether he should adopt Annie ("Why Should I Change A Thing?"), but decides to go through with it and gives Annie the locket. However, she bursts into tears, saying it was the only thing left by her parents, and refuses to accept a new one. Warbucks pledges to find her parents no matter what it takes ("You Won't Be An Orphan For Long").

Act 2

Annie appears on Bert Healy's radio show ("Maybe (Reprise)"), where Warbucks announces that he is offering $50,000 to the couple who can prove they are her parents. Healy then sings a song with the Boylan Sisters ("You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile"). At the orphanage, the girls are listening to the show. They joyously sing along ("You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile (Reprise)"). Miss Hannigan barges in and demands to know what's happening. Molly tells her of the $50,000 reward for Annie's parents, angering Hannigan. Shortly after, Rooster and Lily arrive at the orphanage disgusted as Ralph and Shirley Mudge. They tell Hannigan that they can trick Warbucks into believing that they are Annie's parents, with her help. Hannigan demands one half of the money for this service, and she tells them about the note and the locket ("Easy Street (Reprise)").

Warbucks brings Annie to Washington, D.C., where she meets President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She sings "Tomorrow", and Roosevelt is inspired by her optimism ("Tomorrow (Cabinet Reprise)"). Once back home, Warbucks tells Annie how much he loves her ("Something Was Missing"). Because her parents have not shown up, he decides to adopt her, and Annie gleefully accepts ("I Don't Need Anything But You"). They decide to throw a Christmas party, and Annie invites Miss Hannigan and the orphans. While preparing, the delighted staff tell of how her arrival has changed their lives ("Annie").

Judge Louis Brandeis shows up to begin the adoption proceedings, but is interrupted by Rooster and Lily in disguise. The two present the other half of Annie's locket, but Warbucks still doesn't think they're real. He requests that she will be allowed to stay one more night for the Christmas party, and then they can take her away. The next morning, Annie wishes she could have been adopted, not sent off with her "parents" ("Maybe (Second Reprise)"). Warbucks then receives a surprise visit from Roosevelt and his Secret Service. It is revealed by him that Annie's parents are actually David and Margaret Bennett, who died when she was a baby. They then realize that Mr. and Mrs. Mudge are really Rooster and Lily, just as they show up to claim her and the money. They are arrested for their crimes by the Secret Service, along with Miss Hannigan for being their accomplice. Annie is adopted by Warbucks, and everyone is delighted by Roosevelt's New Deal ("A New Deal for Christmas"/"Tomorrow (Second Reprise)").

Characters

Source: MTI Shows[2]

Characters Description
Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks Billionaire businessman who opens his home – and finally opens his heart – to Annie.
Annie The title character. The spunky and optimistic 11 year old orphan who's looking for her birth parents. She ends up getting adopted by Oliver Warbucks.
Grace Farrell Oliver Warbucks' faithful secretary, who loves Annie from the start.
Daniel "Rooster" Hannigan Miss Hannigan's younger brother, a convict who escaped jail so he can rob his sister and plot to abduct Annie.
Miss Agatha Hannigan The orphanage matron, disillusioned, she hates children, but is fond of alcoholic beverages.
Drake The butler at the Warbucks Mansion; a good friend to Grace, Annie and Daddy Warbucks.
Lily St. Regis Rooster's girlfriend, an egotistical gold digger. She and Rooster pose as Annie's "parents" so they can fool Warbucks and get their hands on the $50,000 reward.
Franklin D. Roosevelt President of the United States, he aids Daddy Warbucks in the search for Annie's parents. Upon meeting Annie, he is inspired to make a new deal and restore America's economy.
Molly The youngest orphan (6) who is also Annie's best friend.
Pepper The bossiest orphan (12) who likes to take control and is not very good friends with Annie.
Duffy The oldest orphan (13) who often hangs around with Pepper but is friends with everyone.
July The quietest orphan (13) who doesn't talk much but is mother-like to all the kids.
Tessie The crybaby orphan (10) who is known for the line "Oh my goodness".
Kate The shyest orphan (7) who never really speaks but is friends with everyone.
Louis Brandeis Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, he is called upon to assist in Annie's adoption.
Bert Healy Radio announcer who agrees to broadcast Annie's search for her parents.
The Boylan Sisters Singers on the Bert Healy Show who hope to be famous someday.
Fred McCracken and Wacky A ventriloquist and dummy, who are guests on Bert Healy's Oxydent Hour of Smiles.
Lt. Ward A policeman sent after Annie, he finds her at the local homeless town (Hooverville).
Sandy An abandoned mixed–breed dog that, once Annie rescues him, becomes her companion and pet.
Bundles The laundry man. Miss Hannigan continuously hits on him, but he is not interested.
Cordell Hull, Frances Perkins, Louis Howe, Harold Ickes, and Henry Morgenthau Jr. Franklin Roosevelt's Cabinet members who sing "Tomorrow" with Warbucks and Annie.
Star-To-Be An upcoming Broadway Star, who sings a solo in N.Y.C.
Mrs. Greer, Mrs. Pugh, Cecile, and Annette Oliver Warbucks's servants. They do a lot of housekeeping and are often supervised by Drake and Grace.
and Assistant Dog Catcher Characters in Hooverville who endanger Sandy.
Sophie and the Apple Seller Child citizens of Hooverville who lead the town and the members of it.
Kaltenborn and Radio Announcers Announcers on the radio.
Usherette A female usher who seats Annie, Grace, and Warbucks in the movie theater.
Jimmy Johnson A guest on Bert Healy's Oxydent Hour of Smiles, who calls himself "radio's only masked announcer".
SFX Man A member of Bert Healy's radio show, who controls the sound effects for the show and encourages crowd participation.
Men and Women of Hooverville Men and Women who are homeless and live in shanties in the town of Hooverville.

Production history

The New York Times estimates that Annie is produced 700 to 900 times each year in the United States.[3]

Conceptualisation

Charnin first approached Meehan to write the book of a musical about Little Orphan Annie in 1972. Meehan researched by re-reading prints of the comic strip, but was unable to find any satisfactory material for a musical other than the characters of Annie, Oliver Warbucks and Sandy, so decided to write his own story. As all three of Meehan, Charnin and Strouse were from New York and given what he saw as the downbeat mood of the then-current Nixon era and the Vietnam War, Meehan set his story in New York during the similarly downbeat Great Depression. Meehan saw the character of Annie as a 20th Century American female version of the titular orphan characters created by Charles Dickens in works such as Oliver Twist and David Copperfield with the mystery of Annie's abandonment and unknown parenthood as consistent with a strand of mysteries in Dickens' tales. Meehan's book was accepted by Charnin and Strouse, but considerable material had to be trimmed out – material which Meehan would later restore for his novelisation.[4]

Pre-Broadway tryout

Annie had its world premiere on August 10, 1976, at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut, under the direction of Michael P. Price, Executive Director. Kristen Vigard was the first actress to play the title role. However, the producers soon decided that Vigard's genuinely sweet interpretation was not tough enough for the street-smart orphan. After a week of performances, Vigard was replaced by Andrea McArdle, who played one of the other orphans, Pepper. Vigard went on to become McArdle's Broadway understudy.

Broadway original

Andrea McArdle, Reid Shelton and Sandy, 1977.

The original Broadway production opened at the Alvin Theatre on April 21, 1977, and starred Andrea McArdle as Annie, Reid Shelton as Daddy Warbucks, Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan, and Sandy Faison as Grace Farrell. Danielle Brisebois was one of the orphans. It was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won seven, including the Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. Replacements in the title role on Broadway included then-child actors Shelley Bruce, Sarah Jessica Parker, Allison Smith and Alyson Kirk. Replacements in the role of Miss Hannigan included Alice Ghostley, Dolores Wilson, Betty Hutton, Marcia Lewis, and June Havoc. Ann Ungar understudied and played for Dorothy Loudon in the role of Miss Hannigan. She also understudied Alice Ghostley and Dolores Wilson.[5] The show closed on January 2, 1983, after a total of 2,377 performances, setting a record for the longest running show at the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon Theatre), until it was surpassed by Hairspray in 2009.[1]

United States National touring companies

During the Broadway run of Annie, there were four touring companies that were launched from the original production to tour to major North American cities:

The 1st National Touring Company opened in Toronto in March 1978 with Kathy Jo Kelly as Annie, Norwood Smith as Daddy Warbucks, Jane Connell, Ruth Kobart as Miss Hannigan, and Gary Beach as Rooster. It played in Miami from April 12 to May 13, 1978, then continued for a few more cities until it landed in Chicago where it played for 32 weeks. In April 1979, it continued on the road in with Mary K. Lombardi now in the lead as Annie. In the fall of 1980, Theda Stemler took over the part and was replaced in Boston when she grew too old. On May 15, 1981, Louanne Sirota, who had played Annie in the long-running Los Angeles production (see below), took over the role for four months. In August 1981, Becky Snyder became the company's last Annie, closing the tour on September 6, 1981.

The 2nd National Touring Company (sometimes referred to as the West Coast or Los Angeles Production) opened in San Francisco on June 22, 1978, with Patricia Ann Patts starring as Annie, Jennifer Cihi as Pepper and the then-unknown Molly Ringwald as one of the orphans. The show landed in Los Angeles on October 15, 1978, for an open-ended run at the Shubert Theatre. On June 12, 1979, Sirota, just 9 years old (up until that time, all Annies had been 11 years old), took over the role from Patts. Marisa Morell took the role in December 1979, closing the Los Angeles run and continuing on tour with the show through December 1980. Kristi Coombs then played Annie until this touring company closed in Philadelphia on January 23, 1982. Alyssa Milano played one of the orphans in 1981.

The 3rd National Touring Company opened in Dallas on October 3, 1979, with Rosanne Sorrentino (who would later go on to portray Pepper in the 1982 film version) in the title role. This company toured to 23 cities playing mostly shorter runs of a month or less. On March 27, 1981, Bridget Walsh took over as Annie. Becky Snyder (who had closed the 1st National Tour) joined this company in the summer of 1982 and stayed with it until it closed in September of that year.

The 4th National Touring Company opened on September 11, 1981, with Mollie Hall playing Annie. This production was a "bus and truck" tour, with a slightly reduced cast, that traveled the country and often played in two cities a week. This company was still touring when the original Broadway production closed in January 1983, making Kathleen Sisk the final performer to play Annie from the original production team. This tour closed in September 1983.

West End original

The musical premiered in the West End at the Victoria Palace Theatre on May 3, 1978. Andrea McArdle, the original Broadway Annie, played the title role for 40 performances. British 12-year-old Ann Marie Gwatkin was also cast in the title role and appeared on the Original London cast recording. The Opening night cast and the original cast album recording of children were Claire Hood, Jane Collins, Dawn Napier, Annette Mason, Helen Stephenson, Jackie Ekers and Linda Brewis. Ann Marie Gwatkin alternated with Christine Hyland and four other Annies were cast at this point: Anne O'Rourke, Jacinta Whyte, Helen Thorne, Rosa Michelle who were to play the role over the next year. Suzie Kemeys, from South Wales also performed two stints in 1980/81. The first was as the character July in the chorus and the second was playing the title role of Annie. ITV Wales commissioned two documentaries about this young Welsh girl and her rise from obscurity to a West End leading lady. Following, this Ann Marie Gwatkin and Jackie Ekers shared the title role followed by many other casts of Annie. Miss Hannigan was originally played by Sheila Hancock, and later by Maria Charles and Stella Moray; Daddy Warbucks was played by Stratford Johns and later by Charles West, with Deborah Clarke playing Pepper in the first year and Melanie Grant playing Molly.

Annie closed on November 28, 1981, after 1485 performances.

UK tour

The musical transferred to the Bristol Hippodrome for a special Christmas season before touring Britain. Because of strict British employment laws for juvenile actors, a succession of actresses took on the lead role every four months. One of the last girls to perform the role at the Victoria Palace before the show went on tour was 10-year-old Claudia Bradley from Leeds who was featured on a 1981 BBC programme called Fame.

Broadway revival (1997)

A 20th anniversary Broadway revival, which played at the Martin Beck Theatre (now called the Al Hirschfeld Theatre) in 1997, entitled Annie, the 20th Anniversary,[6] starred Nell Carter as Miss Hannigan, but controversy surrounded the casting of the titular character. The original actress cast in the role, Joanna Pacitti, was fired and replaced by her fellow orphan, Brittny Kissinger[7] (who usually played orphan July) just two weeks before her Broadway debut, while battling bronchitis in Boston. The Pre-Broadway Tour was playing the Colonial Theatre. 'Annie' Understudy and Swing Orphan Alexandra Keisman performed the role the first night Pacitti was absent. The producers then gave Kissinger the next performance. The show then moved on to the Oakdale in Connecticut where an insert was placed in the Playbill claiming "The Role of Annie is now being played by Brittny Kissinger". Public sentiment seemed to side with Pacitti as she was the winner of a highly publicized contest to find a new Annie sponsored by the department store Macy's. This incident, coupled with the mixed reviews the new staging garnered, doomed it to a short run, although it was followed by a successful national tour. Kissinger, then 8, became the youngest actress to ever play Annie on Broadway.

More controversy surrounding the show involved Nell Carter. Carter reportedly was very upset when commercials promoting the show used a different actress, Marcia Lewis, a white actress, as Miss Hannigan. The producers claimed that the commercials, which were made during an earlier production, were too costly to reshoot. Carter felt that racism played a part in the decision. "Maybe they do not want audiences to know Nell Carter is black", she told the New York Post. However, the ads did mention that Carter was in the show. "It hurts a lot", Carter told the Post, "I've asked them nicely to stop it — it's insulting to me as a black woman."[8] Later reports stated that "Nell Carter of Broadway's 'Annie' denied Thursday that she called her show's producers racist because they chose to air commercials featuring a previous Miss Hannigan—who is white—instead of her."[9] Her statement, released by the Associated Press, read: " 'Yes, it is true that I and my representatives have gone to management on more than one occasion about the commercial and were told that there was nothing they could do about it,' Carter said in a statement Thursday. 'Therefore, I have resigned myself to the fact that this is the way it is.' The statement also addressed the alleged charges of racism, first published in Thursday's New York Post. Carter is black. 'I, Nell Carter, never, ever, ever accused my producers or anyone in the show of racism,' she said. Producers have said it is too expensive to film a new commercial."[10] Carter was later replaced by another white actress, Sally Struthers. The revival closed on October 19, 1997, after 14 previews and 239 performances.[11]

West End revival (1998)

The show was revived at the Victoria Palace, running from September 30, 1998, to February 28, 1999. It starred Lesley Joseph and then Lily Savage (the female alter ego of comedian Paul O'Grady) as Miss Hannigan and Kevin Colson as Warbucks. The young girls who played Annie were Charlene Barton, Tasha Gold, Libby Gore and Sophie McShera.[12] Orphans included Dominique Moore as documented on Paddington Green.[13]

1999–2000 United States tour

Starting in August 1999, the post Broadway National Tour continued with Meredith Anne Bull as Annie. In the spring of 2000, Ashley Wieronski, who had been playing Duffy, moved up to play Annie. In July 2000, Dana Benedict took over as Annie.

2000–2001 Australian tour

In 2000/2001 a tour played Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Anthony Warlow starred as Daddy Warbucks with Amanda Muggleton as Miss Hannigan. A new song, "Why Should I Change a Thing", was written for Warlow.[14] Appearing as Annie in the Sydney production were Rachel Marley and Jodie McGaw. A publicist noted that "each time the show moves to a new city two casts of seven orphans plus two Annies have to be found to join the adult cast."[15]

2001–2010 UK tours

Further UK tours of the show were also staged, including a one-month run at The Theatre Royal in Lincoln in 2001. Members of the original cast included Kate Winney and Jemma Carlisle as Annie, Louise English (Grace), Vicki Michelle (Miss Hannigan) and Simon Masterton-Smith (Daddy Warbucks). The show proved to be a success, and so for the first two tours and the Malaysian Genting Highlands Production, the role of Annie was then shared by Faye Spittlehouse and a young Lucy May Barker. Miss Hannigan was late performed by Sue Pollard and Ruth Madoc and Daddy Warbucks by Mark Wynter. This particular production toured from 2001–2007 and resumed in September 2008. The last tour of this production ended in 2011 with the role of Miss Hannigan still Su Pollard, David McAlister as Daddy Warbucks, Victoria Sian Lewis as Annie, and Simone Craddock as Grace Farrell.[16]

2005–10 United States tours

Starting in August 2005, a 30th anniversary traveling production of Annie[17] by NETworks Tours embarked on a multi-city tour. This production was directed by Martin Charnin. For the first year of the tour, Conrad John Schuck played Daddy Warbucks, Alene Robertson was Miss Hannigan and Annie was played by Marissa O'Donnell.[18] Throughout the run of the show, there were a couple of replacements, including Amanda Balon, who took over as Molly. For the 2nd year of the tour, Annie was played by Marissa O'Donnell again.[19] This Equity Tour closed on March 25, 2007, at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland. The 2007–08 tour starred Amanda Balon as Annie. The 2008–09 cast for the tour featured Tianna Stevens as Annie. Early in 2009, Amanda Balon returned temporarily to play the role of Annie until Madison Kerth was rehearsed to play the title role. Also returning were Barton, Andrews and Meisner. Other cast members included Mackenzie Aladjem (Molly). In the 2009–10 tour, Kerth returned as Annie along with most of the previous year's cast, adding Jordan Boezem (from Spotlight Kids in Sarasota, Fl) in the role of July.[20][21]

Broadway revival (2012)

A 35th Anniversary production opened on Broadway in 2012. Thomas Meehan revised the musical, with James Lapine directing.[22] Lilla Crawford starred as Annie[23] with Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan,[24] and Anthony Warlow playing "Daddy" Warbucks.[25] Featured cast includes Brynn O'Malley, Clarke Thorell and J. Elaine Marcos as Grace Farrell, Rooster and Lily St. Regis (respectively).[26] The revival started previews at the Palace Theatre on October 3, 2012, and officially opened on November 8, 2012, receiving mostly mixed reviews.[26] Notable replacements include Jane Lynch and Faith Prince as Miss Hannigan.[27][28] On July 30, Taylor Richardson and Sadie Sink both began alternating the role of Annie, replacing Crawford.[29] This production closed on January 5, 2014, after 38 previews and 487 regular performances.[30]

2014–17 United States tours

Starting in September 2014, a 40th anniversary traveling production of Annie was launched by TROIKA Entertainment. Directed by Martin Charnin, the tour kicked off in Detroit, Michigan. For the first year of the tour, Issie Swickle played the title character alongside Gilgamesh Tagget and Lynn Andrews as Oliver Warbucks and Miss Hannigan respectively.[31] There were many replacements throughout the tour, and by the end Gilgamesh Tagget was the only remaining original member. For most of the second year of the tour, Heidi Gray played "Annie". For the third and final year of the tour Tori Bates played Annie and became the first bi-racial Annie in a professional production.[32] The 40th Anniversary performance was celebrated in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 21, 2017, with Angelina Carballo as Annie.[33] The tour came to a close in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 21, 2017, after 745 performances.

West End revival (2017)

A West End revival began at the Piccadilly Theatre in London opening on June 5, 2017 (previews beginning 23 May) for a limited run until January 6, 2018. Miranda Hart, in her musical debut as Miss Hannigan until September 17, the production was directed by Nikolai Foster and produced by Michael Harrison and David Ian. The production was identical to the 2015–16 UK and Ireland tour.[34] The 3 girls shared the main role were Madeleine Haynes (reprising her the role from the UK tour), Lola Moxom and Ruby Stokes. From September 19, for a limited 10 week run, Craig Revel Horwood returned to the role of Miss Hannigan, reprising his role from the 2015–16 UK and Ireland tour. The production extended its limited run, with Meera Syal as Miss Hannigan from November 27,[35] through to the show's conclusion on February 18, 2018, when it closed to make way for the musical adaptation of Strictly Ballroom.[36]

International productions

Annie has been produced professionally in Canada (1978), Argentina (1982[a]), Australia (1978,[a] 2000, 2011,[a] 2012), Denmark (1982), Germany (1999), Hungary (1998), Ireland (2003, 2016[b]), Israel (2001,[a] 2010), Italy (1982, 2006), Japan (1979, 1986–present),[c] United Kingdom (1978,[a] 1983, 1998, tours from 2000–2010), Mexico (1979,[a] 1991, 2010, 2015), Netherlands (1997–1999,[a] 2005–2007,[a] 2012–2013[a]), Norway (1991,[a] 2004,[a] 2013), Philippines (1978, 1987, 1998, 2016), Portugal (1982,[a] 2010), Spain (1982,[a] 2000,[a] 2010), Sweden (1979 (Stockholm), 1999 (Stockholm), 2005–2006 (Malmö)[a]), Peru (1986, 1997, 2002), Zimbabwe (2003), Russia (2002–2009), Colombia (2006), South Korea (1984, 1996, 2006–2007, 2010–2011, 2018–2019), Hong Kong (2012), Belgium (1992, 2008–2009, 2012), Poland (1989), United Arab Emirates (2009), Denmark (2011), Puerto Rico (2012), Singapore (2012), Greece (1981–1982, 2005–2007, 2013–2014, 2014–2015, 2019) and Brazil (2018–2019).

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Indicates the production made an official cast recording.
  2. ^ In Ireland, in the 2016 production, the actresses playing Annie and Molly (Aoife McNamara & Simone McInerney) alternated between the roles.
  3. ^ In Japan, a special demo recording of selected songs is made each year, with the new actress playing Annie.

Stage sequels

The first attempt at a sequel, Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge, opened at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in December 1989 to universally disastrous reviews. Extensive reworking of the script and score proved futile, and the project ended before reaching Broadway.[37]

In 1993, a second attempt (with a different plot and score) titled Annie Warbucks was developed in a workshop at the Goodspeed Opera House under the direction of Michael P. Price where the original Annie enjoyed its world premiere in 1976. It subsequently opened at the Off Broadway Variety Arts Theatre, where it ran for 200 performances.

Musical numbers

† This number was added as a showcase for Nell Carter in the 1997 Broadway revival. It has not appeared in any subsequent productions.
‡ This number was added as a showcase for Anthony Warlow in a 2000 Australian production, and has since become an optional part of the show, as it notably did not appear in the 2012 Broadway revival,[38] also starring Warlow.

Recordings

The Original Broadway Cast recording was released in 1977; a CD containing bonus tracks was released on September 15, 1998, by Sony (ASIN: B00000AG6Z). The 1995 London studio cast recording, featuring the National Symphony Orchestra, stars Sarah French as Annie, Kim Criswell as Miss Hannigan and Ron Raines as Daddy Warbucks.

A 30th anniversary cast recording was released in 2008 on Time–Life Records. An all-star cast of former Annie cast members includes Carol Burnett, Sally Struthers, Kathie Lee Gifford, Andrea McArdle, John Schuck, Harve Presnell, Gary Beach and Amanda Balon. The rest of the cast is made up of the members of the 30th Anniversary Tour. This recording is a double CD set and includes the entire show as it is performed now on the first disc. The second one includes songs from the sequel, "Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge" as well as songs that were cut from or added to the original production. There is also a song from the 1977 Annie Christmas special. The booklet is made up of original drawings by Philo Barnhart, who is the creator of Ariel and Ursula in "The Little Mermaid", and is presented in a comic book style.[39]

Novelisations

Thomas Meehan

In 1980, Macmillan Books published Meehan's novelisation of his script for the musical, later reprinted by Puffin Books in 2014. Several of the lyrics from songs from the show were adapted into dialogue and monologue for the novelisation, not least Tomorrow whose main lyric is depicted as being Annie's personal motto. Meehan used the novel to restore material cut from his original storyline and develop the Annie story into his original concept of what he considered to be a 20th Century American version of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, albeit with a female rather than male orphan as the protagonist.[4]

The novel goes into greater depth regarding the backgrounds of many of the characters and particularly about hardship at the orphanage, at which brutal beatings and emotional abuse from Miss Hannigan are everyday occurrences. Unlike the high camp portrayal of Miss Hannigan in most productions of the musical, the novelisation – in the tradition of Dickens' original novel of Oliver Twist – emphatically depicts her as a truly sinister and malevolent villainess – "a skinny hatchet faced woman with short jet-black hair (who) reminded the orphans of a particularly unpleasant looking – and all too real – Halloween witch".[40]

A greater emphasis is placed on the sheer drudgery and illegality of the orphans' sewing labours in the orphanage basement. However, whereas in the musical the orphans are not enrolled in school until the final scene, in the novelisation they attend a public school, PS62, where they suffer from snobbery from teachers and harassment from non-orphan pupils, particularly from a spoiled rich girl named Myrtle Vandenmeer. The legal name of Rooster's girlfriend Lily St Regis is given in the book as being Muriel Jane Gumper.[40][41]

In the novel, Annie spends several months on the run from the orphanage, initially spending the winter as resident staff in Bixby's Beanery, a low-grade café run by couple Fred and Gert Bixby, before escaping after she finds Sandy. She then spends several months living in the Hooverville with Sophie and the Apple Seller (who is named as G. Randall "Randy" Whitworth Jr, a former stockbroker left destitute by the Depression) who, in the novelisation, are adult characters and a couple. It is revealed at the end that Randy, Sophie and all the other Hoovervillites had been released from prison and given jobs and homes by Warbucks as gratitude for taking care of Annie. Also reappearing at the end of the book is Sandy, previously written out of the book while fleeing police during the raid on the Hooverville, who it transpires was successfully traced by agents from Pinkerton hired by Warbucks.[40][41]

Leonore Fleischer

A second novelisation of Annie, by Leonore Fleischer, was published by Random House in 1982. This was a tie-in with the film and was adapted directly from the screenplay.[42][43]

Film and television

Columbia Pictures acquired the film rights in 1977 for $9.5 million, the most expensive at the time for a stage musical.[44] The film was released in 1982 directed by John Huston, starring Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan, Ann Reinking as Grace Farrell, Tim Curry as Rooster, Bernadette Peters as Lily, and newcomer Aileen Quinn as Annie.

A sequel, Annie: A Royal Adventure! was made for television in 1995. It starred Ashley Johnson, Joan Collins, George Hearn, and Ian McDiarmid. Aside from a reprise of "Tomorrow", there are no songs in it.

A made-for-TV Wonderful World of Disney movie version, produced by The Walt Disney Company and directed by Rob Marshall, was broadcast in 1999; it starred Victor Garber as Daddy Warbucks, Kathy Bates as Miss Hannigan, Audra McDonald as Grace Farrell, Alan Cumming as Rooster, Kristin Chenoweth as Lily, and newcomer Alicia Morton as Annie.

In January 2011, Will Smith announced plans for a redux of Annie set in the present day, produced with his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and rapper Jay-Z for release by Columbia Pictures.[45] This version was to star the Smiths' daughter, Willow, as Annie; as she had aged out of the part before production began, she was replaced by Academy Award-nominated actress Quvenzhané Wallis.[46] Directed by Will Gluck and released in 2014,[47][48] this version of Annie also stars Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks (an update of Daddy Warbucks),[49] Rose Byrne as Grace Farrell, and Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan.[50] The film's song score includes most of the original musical's songs plus new compositions produced by Greg Kurstin and Sia.[51]

A documentary film, Life After Tomorrow, was directed and produced by one of the original Broadway and National Tour orphans, Julie Stevens and partner, Gil Cates Jr. It reunites more than 40 women who played orphans in the show and reveals the highs and lows of their experiences as child actresses in a cultural phenomenon. The film premiered on Showtime and was released on DVD in 2008.

Annie Jr.

Annie Jr. is a musical licensed by Music Theatre International's Broadway Junior collection, specially edited to be performed by youngsters in a shortened version. It is performed internationally every year by acting academies, programs, schools, and theatre camps.[52][53] MTI also licenses another youth version of the show, called Annie KIDS, a 30-minute length version meant for elementary school aged performers.[54]

Stage differences (1977 musical)

The songs "We'd Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover", "A New Deal for Christmas", "Something Was Missing" and "Tomorrow (Cabinet Reprise)" were cut. There is only one version of "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile", which is sung by the orphans. Also, there are only two "Maybe" reprises. The song "You won't Be an Orphan For Long" only features Annie and Daddy Warbucks. The songs "Easy Street" and "Little Girls" were also shortened. Many of the songs have been transposed down a few keys to make them easier for amateur child actors to sing.

Pop culture references

Annie's popularity is reflected in its numerous mentions in popular media. References to the show appear in films such as Austin Powers: Goldmember, where Dr. Evil and Mini-Me perform Jay-Z's version of the song 'Hard Knock Life'; and in the 1994 John Waters dark comedy Serial Mom, where a woman is bludgeoned to death with a leg of mutton by the titular serial killer while watching the 1982 film version and singing along. It is parodied in Reefer Madness, where President Franklin D. Roosevelt shows up as the deus ex machina at the end of the satirical musical to tell the assembled crowd, "A little orphan girl once told me that the sun would come out tomorrow. Her adopted father was a powerful billionaire, so I suppressed the urge to laugh in her face, but now, by gum, I think she may have been on to something!"

References in television series include:

  • In The X-Files episode "Die Hand Die Verletzt (The hand that hurts)", Annie is suggested as a more appropriate school production than Jesus Christ Superstar, for a high school that turns out to be run by a Satanic coven.
  • Pushing Daisies where Emerson referred to Chuck's father as "Daddy Dead-bucks" in the episode entitled "The Norwegians" (Season 2: Episode 10).
  • An episode of SCTV, features a spoof commercial of the "original" cast, now older adults still playing their kid roles, performing the 8,000th performance of Annie.
  • Zoey 101, where Marc wants the school production changed to Annie.
  • Full House, where Stephanie Tanner sings the song in several episodes
  • On Yes, Dear, Dominic and his new friend Ronnie put on a show for the parents including "Hard Knock Life", to Jimmy's horror.
  • On 30 Rock, Liz Lemon is discovered in her office after hours listening to music on her headset and singing "Maybe".
  • Also in 30 Rock, "The Tuxedo Begins", an unnamed caricature of an aspiring actress (quickly revealed to be a prostitute) sings parts of "NYC" both in the beginning and end of the episode. The role was played by thespian Sarah Schenkkan. The melody and harmony of the same song are quoted by the soundtrack of the episode, and a mariachi version is played over the closing credits.
  • The stop-motion comedy show Robot Chicken parodied Annie in episodes including "Maurice Was Caught" (2009).[55]
  • In "Makeover", an episode of Glee, a guest starring Sarah Jessica Parker as Isabelle Wright from Vogue.com with Kurt Hummel and Rachel Berry sing "You're never fully dressed without a smile".
  • In the Netflix series Haters Back Off, Miranda Sings and her family attempt to mount a backyard production of Annie (with extensive book and score revisions) in the episode "Staring in a Musicall".

The song "Tomorrow" is sung in many media references, including by Joe's aunt in a scene in the film You've Got Mail; in Dave, by Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver; by Lewis on The Drew Carey Show; by Jane Krakowski in the fourth season of Ally McBeal; in Roseanne, by Darlene and Becky; by Reese Witherspoon in Just Like Heaven; by Donkey in the CGI movies Shrek II (although he passes out halfway through the second line) and Shrek Forever After when he is pulling the witches' cart to Rumpelstiltskin with an unconscious Shrek inside after making the deal with Rumpelstiltskin; in a commercial for Lowe's Hardware promoting their next-day delivery; by the Royle Family in the episode "The Queen of Sheba" of the eponymous series; by contestant Teresa Cooper on an episode of Survivor: Africa; in a Duel Masters episode, it is recited by Shobu; by Marta in School Of Rock; in Like Mike, by a couple hoping to be Calvin's adoptive parents; and in Addams Family Values.

The climax of the animated film Igor involved a giant robot portraying Annie.

Other prominent media references include the following:

  • Producer The 45 King heavily sampled "It's the Hard-Knock Life" from the original Broadway cast recording on rapper Jay-Z's single "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" (1998).[56]
  • The NFL Network produced two Super Bowl ads in 2004 and 2005 featuring "Tomorrow." A series of football celebrities who were retired or did not make it to that year's Super Bowl would sing the song, ending with the caption, "...Tomorrow, we're all undefeated again."[57][58]
  • Comedian Zach Galifianakis lip-synched to a recording of "Tomorrow" during his monologue on the March 12, 2011, episode of Saturday Night Live. He was dressed as Annie.

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1977 Tony Award Best Musical Won
Best Book of a Musical Thomas Meehan Won
Best Original Score Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Reid Shelton Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Andrea McArdle Nominated
Dorothy Loudon Won
Best Direction of a Musical Martin Charnin Nominated
Best Choreography Peter Gennaro Won
Best Scenic Design David Mitchell Won
Best Costume Design Theoni V. Aldredge Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Won
Outstanding Book of a Musical Thomas Meehan Won
Outstanding Actor in a Musical Reid Shelton Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Dorothy Loudon Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical Martin Charnin Won
Outstanding Choreography Peter Gennaro Won
Outstanding Music Charles Strouse Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Martin Charnin Won
Outstanding Costume Design Theoni V. Aldredge Won
1978 Grammy Award Best Cast Show Album Won

1997 Broadway revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1997 Tony Award Best Revival of a Musical Nominated

1998 London revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1999 Laurence Olivier Award Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical Andrew Kennedy Nominated
Best Theatre Choreographer Peter Gennaro Nominated

2013 Broadway revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2013 Tony Award Best Revival of a Musical Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Anthony Warlow Nominated

See also

References

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  2. ^ "Annie Cast Information" mtishows.com, accessed September 2, 2019
  3. ^ Healy, Patrick (September 6, 2012). "'Annie,' 'Cinderella' and 'Matilda' Come to Broadway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Meehan, Thomas (2013). Annie. Penguin Young Readers Group. ISBN 978-0-698-13947-3.
  5. ^ "Ann Ungar – Broadway Cast & Staff". IBDB.com.
  6. ^ Ippolito, Caren (January 22, 1998). "Girl Adopts Acting as Current Role". The Tampa Tribune. p. 1.
  7. ^ "Good Times - Home". BrittnyKissinger.com. May 14, 2010. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  8. ^ "Annie Yesterday, Today and 'Tomorrow': All About Broadway's Favorite Little Orphan". broadway.com. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  9. ^ "Nell Carter Denies Charges of Racism". HighBeam Research. May 16, 2013. Archived from the original on May 16, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  10. ^ "Names in the News", Associated Press (Domestic News), Dateline: New York, May 23, 1997
  11. ^ "Annie 1997 Revival @ Playbill Vault". Archived from the original on November 17, 2015.
  12. ^ "Annie". Albemarle Archive. Archived from the original on August 21, 2006. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
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External links