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Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. The first installment in the Star Wars film series, it stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, and Alec Guinness. David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Peter Mayhew co-star in supporting roles.
The plot focuses on the Rebel Alliance, led by Princess Leia (Fisher), and its attempt to destroy the Galactic Empire's space station, the Death Star. This conflict disrupts the isolated life of farmhand Luke Skywalker (Hamill), who inadvertently acquires a pair of droids that possess stolen architectural plans for the Death Star. When the Empire begins a destructive search for the missing droids, Skywalker accompanies Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Guinness) on a mission to return the plans to the Rebel Alliance and rescue Leia from her imprisonment by the Empire.
Star Wars was released theatrically in the United States on May 25, 1977. It earned $461 million in the U.S. and $314 million overseas, totaling $775 million. It surpassed Jaws (1975) to become the highest-grossing film of all 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, and the third-highest-grossing film in the world. It received ten Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture), winning seven. It was among the first films to be selected as part of the U.S. Library of Congress' National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". At the time, it was the most recent film on the registry and the only one chosen from the 1970s. Its soundtrack was added to the U.S. National Recording Registry in 2004. Today, it is often regarded as one of the best films of all time, as well as one of the most important films in the history of motion pictures. It launched an industry of tie-in products, including TV series spinoffs, novels, comic books, and video games, and merchandise including toys, games and clothing.
The film's success led to two critically and commercially successful sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). Star Wars was reissued multiple times at Lucas' behest, incorporating many changes including modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, re-edited shots, remixed soundtracks, and added scenes. A prequel trilogy was released between 1999 and 2005, followed by a sequel trilogy beginning in 2015. In 2016, Rogue One was released as a direct prequel to the original Star Wars film