Star Wars is an American epic space opera franchise, centered on a film series created by George Lucas. It depicts the adventures of various characters “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”.
The franchise began in 1977 with the release of the film Star Wars (subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope in 1981), which became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. It was followed by the similarly successful sequels The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983); these three films constitute the original Star Wars trilogy (Episodes IV–VI). A prequel trilogy (Episodes I–III) was later released between 1999 and 2005, which received a more mixed reaction from critics and fans in comparison to the original trilogy. More recently, a sequel trilogy (Episodes VII–IX) began with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). All seven films were nominated for or won Academy Awards, and were commercial successes, with a combined box office revenue of .46 billion, making Star Wars the fourth highest-grossing film series. Additional theatrical films outside of the main saga include the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) and a series of anthology films, which began with the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016).
The series has spawned an extensive media franchise—the Star Wars expanded universe—including books, television series, computer and video games, and comic books, resulting in significant development of the series’s fictional universe. Star Wars also holds a Guinness World Records title for the “Most successful film merchandising franchise.” In 2015, the total value of the Star Wars franchise was estimated at USD .9 billion, including box-office receipts as well as profits from their video games and DVD sales.
In 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm for .06 billion and earned the distribution rights to all subsequent Star Wars films, beginning with the release of The Force Awakens in 2015. The former distributor, 20th Century Fox, retains the physical distribution rights to the first two Star Wars trilogies, owning permanent rights for the original 1977 film and holding the rights to Episodes I–III, V and VI until May 2020. Walt Disney Studios owns digital distribution rights to all the Star Wars films, excluding A New Hope.
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