Star Wars is one of the most recognizable and lucrative multi-media franchises in history and with each passing year, the Galaxy Far, Far Away gets bigger and bigger.

Across imperial galaxies and planets of the Outer Rim, a timeless saga unfolds; heroes rise, villains plot and a mystical Force binds all. Join daring Jedi, fierce rebels, and Sith Lords alike in epic battles from the iconic Star Wars universe, where adventure awaits and destinies intertwine among the stars – this is your ultimate guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away.

Darth Vader stands with his red lightsabre in a dark hallway
Star Wars: Rogue One/LucasFilms/Star Wars YouTube channel

The Beginnings of a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Today, Star Wars may be one of the most popular, recognizable, and lucrative multi-media franchises in cinema history, but this epic space opera has remarkably humble roots.

George Lucas had the idea of developing a science fiction, space-based fantasy movie all the way back in 1971; however, the acclaimed director originally wanted to make a series of films adapting the classic Flash Gordon comics, of which Lucas was a fan as a child.

Lucas was unable to acquire the rights to adapt Flash Gordon which led to him being “very depressed” according to director Francis Ford Coppola. Yet, the young director proved in this instance why he was one of the best filmmakers of his generation by simply responding: “Well, I’ll just [have to] invent my own.”

After the release of American Graffiti in 1973, Lucas turned his attention back to his space opera and began developing ‘Star Wars’ – the title of the first movie in the franchise, later retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, and the rest as they say, is history.

The Cast of a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The Star Wars franchise has had multiple main characters across the nine films from the main movie series. They were played by Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa, James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, and Daisy Ridley as Rey.

JUN 15 1977 - 'Star Wars' has Given three Performers that All-Important Break
Photo By Steve Larson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker

Mark Hamill Visits Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Photo by Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images

Mark Hamill played Luke Skywalker in all three of the original trilogy movies and would reprise the role for the sequel trilogy, appearing in all three films between 2015 and 2019. Undoubtedly his most well-known role, Hamill later starred in Corvette Summer (1978), The Big Red One (1980), and the Batman animated series (1993).

Before Hamill got the role, auditions for the role of Luke Skywalker included famous actors Robby Benson, Will Seltzer, Charles Martin Smith, and Kurt Russell.

Interestingly, the role was actually set to go to William Katt before Hamill impressed Lucas with a particularly unique script reading, in which he took a more ‘sincere’ approach than the filmmaker expected.

Harrison Ford as Han Solo

On the set of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Harrison Ford previously worked with George Lucas on American Graffiti and would feature as Han Solo in all three of the original movies, as well as a controversial appearance in the later sequel trilogy. Aside from the epic space opera, Ford is well-known for playing Indiana Jones from 1981 onwards, Dr Kimble in The Fugitive (1993), and Rick Deckard in Blade Runner (1982).

Arguably the most in-demand audition for Star Wars was for Han Solo with the likes of Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russel, Bill Murray, and Steve Martin being considered before Ford got the part. In truth, we can’t imagine anyone other than the iconic Ford playing the ‘Stuck up, half-wited, scruffy-looking, Nerf herder’.

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa

The Star Wars Holiday Special
Photo by CBS via Getty Images

The iconic Carrie Fisher featured in all three of the original movies and reprised the role for The Force Awakens in 2015; however, following her tragic passing in 2016, she would also feature in a posthumous release of The Last Jedi and even in The Rise of Skywalker through the use of unreleased footage.

Fans may also recognize Fisher from films such as The Blues Brothers (1980), When Harry Met Sally (1989), and from her outstanding performances on shows 30 Rock (2007) and Catastrophe (2017).

Many young actresses sought the role of Princess Leia including Amy Irving, Cindy Williams, Jodie Foster, Koo Stark, and Terri Nunn; controversially, Fisher revealed in her ‘Shockaholic’ book that she was told to lose 10lbs for the role.

James Earl Jones as Darth Vader (voice)

"Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" Charity Premiere - New York
Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage

Arguably the greatest fictional villain ever created, Darth Vader simply needs no introduction; having featured in all of the original trilogy and as a young version (played by Hayden Christensen) in the prequels.

What many Star Wars fans may not realize is that whilst James Earl Jones (The Lion King) is the famed voice of Darth Vader, he isn’t the actor in the all-black mechanical suit. Instead, that’s David Prowse, who was initially considered for the entire role alongside Orson Welles until Lucas decided to go with a lesser-known name for the time in Jones.

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi

Disney+ Showcase Presentation At D23 Expo Friday, August 23
Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

The second iteration of Obi-Wan Kenobi, fan favorite actor Ewan McGregor took over the role from the original trilogies Alex Guinness for the prequel movies; McGregor would feature in all of the prequel movies and would reprise the role for the Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off series in 2022.

McGregor was actually cast from a shortlist of over 50 actors, all of whom allegedly had to be compared against a young Alec Guinness in order to have a chance at being cast – McGregor not only studied Guinness’ career closely but worked with a vocal coach to better match his voice.

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker

Actor Hayden Christensen Takes Over the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: Galaxys Edge at Disneyland
Photo by Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images

Whilst Hayden Christensen is arguably one of the more ‘controversial’ Star Wars actors, his contribution to the revival of the franchise for a new generation of fans can never be understated and if you have ever seen an interview with the Canadian actor, it’s hard to do anything but root for him.

An intense search was undertaken to find the right actor to play Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy and auditioned actors included Paul Walker, Topher Grace, Jonathan Brandis, and Colin Hanks.

Daisy Ridley as Rey

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Red Carpet Fan Event In Japan
Photo by Christopher Jue/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios

The main character of the sequel trilogy, Daisy Ridley shined as Rey; a scavenger who was abandoned on the planet Jakku as a child, only to become the most important Jedi Warrior since Luke himself.

Whilst Ridley was able to land the role after months-worth of auditions, the role almost went to Jessica Henwick, Elizabeth Olsen, Saoirse Ronan, Billie Lourd, and Eiza Gonzalez.

Stream the Entire Saga from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Following George Lucas’ sale of his production company LucasFilm Ltd in 2012, the only place for all of your Star Wars streaming needs is Disney Plus.

The streaming platform has all of the official Star Wars content available including the original trilogy, prequel trilogy, sequel trilogy, standalone films, and spin-off TV shows.

In the US, Disney Plus is available from:

Disney Plus is also included in a special bundle offer for US fans that feature additional subscriptions to both Hulu and ESPN+, costing $12.99 a month with ads or $19.99 a month without ads.

For Star Wars fans in the UK, access to the platform will cost new customers $7.99 a month or £79.90 a year.

A Most Lucrative Franchise from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The Star Wars franchise is one of the largest ever created in entertainment history, featuring various blockbuster movies and TV shows, a plethora of video games and graphic novels, and countless merchandise opportunities; look no further than The Mandalorian’s ‘Baby Yoda’ for the perfect example of smart marketing.

In fact, Star Wars as a whole is considered to be the fourth highest-grossing multi-media franchise in the world, having generated over $46.7 billion through merchandise sales, box office collections, home video sales, video games, and book launches.

There are only three other multi-media franchises that are considered to have a more lucrative history within multi-media entertainment: Pokémon (over $88 billion), Mickey Mouse (over $52 billion), and Winnie the Pooh (over $48 billion).

For big-screen-only enthusiasts specifically, Star Wars (nine original films plus Solo and Rogue One anthologies), is the third highest-grossing film series in movie history having generated over $10.3 billion at the global box office.

The only two film series that has racked up more cash down the years is the Marvel Cinematic Universe at $29.6 billion, followed by Spider-Man at $10.5 billion; the latter includes both Marvel and Sony IPs.

Stormtrooper helmets sit in the desert sand
The Mandalorian/LucasFilms/Star Wars YouTube channel

The Original Trilogy from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Whilst the Star Wars Fandom transcends multiple generations, the original trilogy will forever hold a special place in the hearts of fans around the world.

The original trilogy kicked off with Star Wars in 1977 (later retitled A New Hope), which earned $775 million at the global box office off just a $11 million budget. Unsurprisingly, the movie would also perform extremely well with film critics with Academy Award wins for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Bets Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects.

“Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the mysterious Darth Vader.”

This was followed by Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 (personally, the best film in the franchise to date), which grossed around $538 million from a $30 million budget. The accolades didn’t come quite as fast as the first movie, perhaps due to the more intense competition from other outstanding titles like Ordinary People that year, but Episode V was still able to pick up the Academy Award for Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.

“After the Rebels are overpowered by the Empire, Luke Skywalker begins his Jedi training with Yoda, while his friends are pursued across the galaxy by Darth Vader and bounty hunter Boba Fett.”

Rounding out the original trilogy was Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, which premiered in 1983. Ironically, this was actually the lowest-earning movie in the trilogy, grossing $482 million at the global box office from a $32-42 million budget. The film gained four Academy Award nominations that year but would only walk away with the Special Achievement Academy Award for visual effects.

“After rescuing Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, the Rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke struggles to help Darth Vader back from the dark side.”

Prequel Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

In arguably the most controversial timejump in cinema history, the next set of movies from the Star Wars franchise took the story back to when Anakin Skywalker was a child/apprentice.

Whilst the prequel trilogy may be constantly mocked on social media, it’s one of the most important chapters in Star Wars history, introducing a new generation of fans to the franchise and supporting the careers of an outstanding cast of rising stars including Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker), Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), and Natalie Portman (Padme Amidala).

The prequel trilogy kicked off in 1999 with The Phantom Menace, which earned a whopping $1 billion at the global office from around a $115 million budget. The movie earned three Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound; however, all three were eventually won by The Matrix.

“Two Jedi escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their original glory.”

Three years later in 2002, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones premiered and whilst failing to meet the expectations of many fans, the film still earned over $650 at the global box office from a $115 million budget. The second chapter of the prequel trilogy failed to win any major critical awards, although the film did pick up the not-so-coveted ‘Worst Screenplay’ at the Golden Raspberry Awards.

“Ten years after initially meeting, Anakin Skywalker shares a forbidden romance with Padmé Amidala, while Obi-Wan Kenobi discovers a secret clone army crafted for the Jedi.”

The prequel trilogy would come to an end in 2005 with the launch of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Thankfully, the third film would be received much better than Attack of the Clones, earning $868 million from a $113 million budget and George Lucas an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award. Ironically, it was also the only Star Wars movie not to be nominated for Best Visuals at that years’ Academy Awards.

“Three years into the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan pursues a new threat, while Anakin is lured by Chancellor Palpatine into a sinister plot to rule the galaxy.”

A New Generation in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The sequel trilogy began with The Force Awakens in 2015, with the focus shifting to new characters such as Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac).

The first movie would end up becoming the most expensive film in cinema history with a budget of $447 million, although it would also earn $2 billion back at the global box office. The Force Awakens was nominated for five Academy Awards but did not win any come ceremony night.

“As a new threat to the galaxy rises, Rey, a desert scavenger, and Finn, an ex-stormtrooper, must join Han Solo and Chewbacca to search for the one hope of restoring peace.”

This was followed up The Last Jedi in 2017 and unfortunately, this is where hardcore Star Wars fans started to check out. The film did earn over $1.3 billion at the box office from a $300 million budget and four Academy Award nominations but sits at a disappointing 6.9/10 on IMDB.

“The Star Wars saga continues as new heroes and galactic legends go on an epic adventure, unlocking mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of the past.”

The sequel trilogy wrapped up in 2019 with the release of The Rise of Skywalker, which maintained the $1 billion-plus box office run with a budget of $416 million; the third most expensive movie ever produced. Again, three Academy Award nominations came and went without a win.

“In the riveting conclusion of the landmark Skywalker saga, new legends will be born-and the final battle for freedom is yet to come.”

Spin-off Adventures from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Whilst the vast majority of fans will associate Jedi Warriors and Sith Lords with The Skywalker Saga, the Star Wars franchise as a whole certainly doesn’t stop with this force-wielding family.

Three official anthology films have been released so far, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), and Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).

There have also been four live-action TV series from the Star Wars franchise to date: The Mandalorian (2019), The Book of Boba Fett (2021), Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022), and Andor (2022).

The next live-action series for the Star Wars universe will be Ahsoka, set to premiere in August 2023; meaning you have enough time to catch up with some essential Clone Wars episodes on the character before the shows debut.

Add in notable animated titles such as Clone Wars (2003), The Clone Wars (2008), The Bad Batch (2021), Visions (2021), Tales of the Jedi (2022), and Young Jedi Adventures (2023); you have hundreds of hours’ worth of Star Wars content available on Disney Plus.

The Lasting Legacy of a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Whilst the legacy of Star Wars can be felt through the continual production of new TV shows and movies for the franchise, arguably the most important contribution to the media landscape was keeping afloat the 20th Century Fox conglomerate.

Whilst 20th Century Fox was certainly not a failing business at the time, the launch of Star Wars in 1977 not only doubled the company’s stock price within just three weeks of its premiere, but it also supported the profits jumping from around $37 million to $79 million that same year.

It also helped create the ‘Summer Boom’ that many modern showcases now take advantage of; alongside Jaws (1975), the first Star Wars movie is credited with starting the ‘tradition’ of summer blockbusters where films open on many screens at the same time.

Genre-defining spectacle, a focus on a more complete narrative, enhanced visual effects, and an iconic sound design to match; Star Wars remains one of the most important franchises of all time for science fiction fans…We also wouldn’t have got Spaceballs or Robot Chicken: Star Wars without Lucas, so be thankful fellow nerds.

Rey stands scared holding her blue lightsabre
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker/LucasFilms/Star Wars YouTube channel

What’s Next for the Galaxy Far, Far Away?

As to be expected with such an enormous and lucrative multi-media franchise as Star Wars, there is plenty of exciting new content to look forward to in the next few years.

Whilst details on specifics of the next theatrical films remain hidden in the Disney vaults, we do know that at least six live-action movies are in development:

Fans can also look forward to three new live-action TV series with the Skeleton Crew later in 2023, The Acolyte is set to premiere sometime in 2024, to be followed by Lando, in what could be the quirkiest Star Wars adventure yet (release TBA).

Considering the franchise’s future, it’s an amazing time to be a Star Wars fan; draw your lightsabres, watch out for malfunctioning droids, and May the Force Be With You.

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