By: Nick Swafford
On December 15, the eighth installment of the Star Wars movie series, The Last Jedi, will come to theaters. The Last Jedi seems like a pretty depressing title, and who is the last jedi? Is it Rey or Luke Skywalker? Maybe it’s even talking about both. Either way, with this new trilogy to the Star Wars series, a lot of fans are wishing December came quicker. However, I prefer to use the time until then to look back and brush up on my Star Wars knowledge, and how massively it changed the film industry.
The first movie of the original trilogy came out on May 25th, 1977. Since then, there have been a total of six other main Star Wars movies–with two more on the way. Before the first movie premiered, filmmakers wanted to appeal to everyone, from teens to the elderly. For the most part, it worked, and from it we got classic movies like Rocky and Jaws. After the release of A New Hope, Hollywood’s film industry radically changed the goal audience of movies. Because so many young men watched and rewatched it, a chain reaction was set in motion, eventually leading to the types of movies we have now: movies made mostly for guys from ages 12-24.
Star Wars also resulted in the film industry focusing on science fiction, which can be shown in the large masses of superhero, futuristic, dystopian, and supernatural shows and movies of the time. Before that, the majority of movies were dramas and comedies. You probably don’t think of it, but when you watch a movie, the sound system is what creates the majority of the dramatic effect. Another thing you might not think of is that, in a horror film, you can clearly hear the immortal clown-demon sneaking up behind you, telling you how to float. This form of audio was brought into play with the release of A New Hope. George Lucas introduced the THX loudspeakers with its release, giving clarity to sound effects, and paving the way for THX to be a major part of movies’ sound effects to this day. (see Cars, Terminator 2, and the original Titanic)
Star Wars also changed how movies gained money. Sure, the collection and toy industry existed before Star Wars. However, it wasn’t until after the first Star Wars movie that movie merchandise became popular, and now, it’s the norm. My favorite change, however, is the video game market. Movie plots began to be transferred to video game formats after The Empire Strikes Back made a debut in the video game industry on the Atari 2600. You can see this today in tons of video games on almost all platforms. An example of this is The Lego Movie which soon, after hitting theaters, released a video game called The Lego Movie Videogame.
All of these innovations pivoted the way movies are produced, shown, and advertised. Star Wars is my favorite movie series of all time, and I definitely appreciate all that the series and George Lucas has done for the movie-watching experience. The force clearly shines through the film industry.