May the 4th be with you: how dates became a Star Wars phenomenon

Star Wars is one of the most successful and influential film franchises of all time.

The franchise, which started as a film series, has since expanded into TV shows, video games, comic books, and theme parks.

But why is it that every year on the fourth day of May, fans around the world gather to show their love and appreciation for George Lucas’ creations.

First let’s look at some history.

History of Star Wars

It all started in 1977, when Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV), written and directed by George Lucas, was released to the world and instantly became a beloved cultural phenomenon.

The film earned a huge $775 million at the global box office and developed the franchise into a highly profitable merchandising industry.

Star Wars was very innovative for its time. It ushered in a new era of special effects and pioneered the idea of ​​a vast fictional universe – a concept we are used to seeing today, with the success of Marvel and Harry Potter.

‘A New Hope’ was followed by two sequels, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980) and ‘Return of the Jedi’ (1983), both of which also received high praise from audiences.

Lucas later returned to the series to direct the prequel trilogy, which consisted of ‘The Phantom Menace’ (1999), ‘Attack of the Clones’ (2002), and ‘Revenge of the Sith’ (2005) – all of which received less critical acclaim. . than the original trilogy.

In 2012, LucasFilms was purchased by Disney for $4.05 billion, which then released a trilogy of sequels, consisting of ‘The Force Awakens’ (2015), ‘The Last Jedi’ (2017), and ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ (2019 ).

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Why is Star Wars Day on May 4?

As most fans know, the fourth day of May is known as Star Wars Day because of the pun with the phrase, ‘May the power be with you,’ used by the Jedi Masters throughout the franchise.

The reappearance of this expression in films gave way to the saying, ‘May the 4th be with you’.

The earliest use of this pun goes back to 1978, one year after the release of ‘A New Hope’, where American newspapers cleverly used the phrase in their headlines on Independence Day on July 4th.

The adage also came into use in Britain, when on May 4, 1979, newspapers used the slogan to mark the day Britain’s new prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, took office.

The London Evening News was entitled, ‘May The Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Happy!’.

But the first official celebration of May 4 happened much later, at the Toronto Underground Cinema in 2001.

Fans took part in a full day of Star Wars-themed celebrations, including a film marathon and a costume contest.

And now, 45 years after the release of the first film, the phenomenon shows no sign of abating.

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