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"The Original Star Wars Trilogy – One Last Time". TheStarWarsTrilogy.com. The Star Wars Trilogy: A Digital Star Wars Scrapbook. Archived from the originalStar Wars (retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) is a 1977 American epic space-opera film written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Peter Mayhew. It is the first installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, the first of the franchise to be produced, and the fourth episode of the "Skywalker saga". Lucas had the idea for a science-fiction film in the vein of Flash Gordon around the time he completed his first film, THX 1138 (1971) and began working on a treatment after the release of American Graffiti (1973). Star Wars focuses on the journey of Luke Skywalker (Hamill), who along with the wizened Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Guinness), smuggler Han Solo (Ford), and his Wookiee companion Chewbacca (Mayhew), attempts to free Princess Leia (Fisher) from the clutches of the tyrannical Galactic Empire. At the same time, the heroes try to deliver the plans for the Empire's planet-destroying space station, the Death Star, which are carried by the droids R2-D2 (Baker) and C-3PO (Daniels), to the Rebel Alliance, but face opposition from the Sith Lord Darth Vader (Prowse, voiced by Jones). After a turbulent production, Star Wars was released in a limited number of theaters in the United States on May 25, 1977, and quickly became a blockbuster hit, leading to it being expanded to a much wider release. The film opened to critical acclaim, most notably for its groundbreaking visual effects. It grossed a total of $775 million, surpassing Jaws (1975) to become the highest-grossing film at the 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 (behind Gone with the Wind) and the fourth-highest-grossing film in the world. It received ten Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), winning seven. In 1989, it became one of the first 25 films that was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". At the time, it was the most recent film in the registry and the only one chosen from the 1970s. In 2004, its soundtrack was added to the U.S. National Recording Registry, and was additionally listed by the American Film Institute as the best movie score of all time a year later. Today, it is regarded as one of the greatest and most important films in the history of motion pictures. The film has been reissued multiple times with Lucas's support—most significantly with its 20th-anniversary theatrical "Special Edition"—incorporating many changes including modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, re-edited shots, remixed soundtracks and added scenes. The film became a pop-cultural phenomenon and launched an industry of tie-in products, including novels, comics, video games, amusement park attractions, and merchandise including toys, games, clothing and many other spin-off works. The film's success led to two critically and commercially successful sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), and later to a prequel trilogy, a sequel trilogy, two anthology films and various spin-off TV series.