Every major studio-backed blockbuster that comes along would love to be responsible for changing the course of cinematic history, but only a minute percentage actually manage to accomplish such a game-changing feat. Jaws was arguably the first, but the release of Star Wars two years later took things to a whole new level.
The relatively unproven George Lucas followed up coming-of-age dramedy American Graffiti with one of the most ambitious productions ever assembled; a sprawling intergalactic adventure that utilized cutting-edge technology, a cast comprised largely of unknowns, an entire mythology assembled from the ground up, and a troubled shoot that went over budget and left the crew convinced the movie was going to be a failure.
Of course, Star Wars became a global sensation and enduring phenomenon, surpassing the aforementioned Jaws to become the highest-grossing film in history at the time, yielding billions in total revenue thanks to Lucas’ savvy merchandising strategy. 45 years later and it’s still one of the biggest and most beloved brands on the planet, but how different would Hollywood history have turned out had it flopped?
That’s the fascinating question being posed on Reddit, and looking at some of the points made in the original post, it’s almost impossible to imagine how different things would have been were Episode IV to go down in a ball of box office flames.
Lucas’ own filmmaking career, the expansion of ILM and its various collaborators, the impending partnership with Spielberg on Indiana Jones, the sheer influence Star Wars holds over countless high-profile stars and filmmakers, the eventual Disney purchase, the enduring sci-fi boom, and a lifetime of adulation for millions of fans all over the world may not have happened at all had the opening chapter lived up to initial expectations and under-performed.
It’s incredible to think about, but only serves to underline just how monolithic a presence Star Wars is, was, and always will be.