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1977: Star Wars fever hits Britain
Thousands of people are flocking to cinemas in the UK to watch the long-awaited blockbuster, Star Wars - a movie which is already setting US box offices alight.

Bracing the cold weather, young and old queued from 0700 GMT in London at the Dominion, and Leicester Square cinemas, to snatch up non-reserved tickets which are otherwise booked until March.

Star Wars, which was first released in America seven months ago, has taken audiences by storm and outstripped last year's blockbuster Jaws to gross $156m (108m) at the box office.

Carrie Fisher, Sir Alec Guiness and little known Harrison Ford star in this fairytale set in space.

Produced by Gary Kurtz, written and directed by George Lucas who directed American Graffitti, the U-classified sci-fi film is a classic epic of good versus evil.

It has enthralled audiences under a dazzle of special effects with wizards, heroes, monsters in "a galaxy far, far away".

Hype

The 900 people involved in the film included giants, dwarfs, artists and the man who built machines for James Bond.

Many of the optical special effects were developed in California by Industrial Light and Magic, a George Lucas company. The on-stage special effects were put together at Elstree studios in Britain.

Filming took the cast to Tunisia, Death Valley California, Guatemala and the EMI soundstage at Elstree.

The build-up and hype has led to store wars over Star Wars with products including T-shirts, sweets, jig-saw puzzle, watches and food to name but a few.

Mr Lucas has published a paperback version and Marvel comics have produced a special edition to meet the thirst for Star Wars' merchandise.

But for those queuing today nothing will satisfy them but a chance to see the film itself - easy targets for touts trying to sell 2.20 tickets for 30.

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Watch/Listen
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) onboard the Death Star in the film Star Wars
The film was released in the US seven months ago

Crowds queue all day to see Star Wars


In Context
The low-budget film, which George Lucas feared would be a flop, originally took 294.29m worldwide. In an inflation-adjusted tally the film comes second only to Gone With The Wind, with an international gross of 975,743,340.

It became a worldwide phenomenon and was followed by The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi both released in quick succession, securing the film in movie history.

The original three films were based on parts 4, 5, and 6 of screen plays Lucas had written on the same theme. The original Star Wars movie was turned into a novel by Alan Dean Foster.

Fans waited almost 20 years to see one of the "prequels" to these - parts 1, 2 and 3 - which were withheld because Lucas wanted to wait until special effects were more sophisticated.

In 1999 the first of these prequels, The Phantom Menace, was released and three years later the Attack of the Clones hit the screens. In 2005 the third episode, Revenge of the Sith, was released.

Stories From 27 Dec


 
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