On May 25, 1977, a director named George Lucas gave the world its first glimpse of a galaxy far, far away. Who knew that a space opera about a farm boy who befriends a wizard and a smuggler pirate, frees a princess and liberates a galaxy would spawn a multibillion-dollar franchise and cultural touchstone? Not 20th Century Fox, and certainly not Lucas, who was convinced it would flop.
Star Wars would end up making $1.5 million on its opening weekend and more than $220 million during its first run—a veritable fortune at the time.
Forty years and eight films later, Lucas’ depiction of the battle between good and evil remains as relevant today as it was then. In honor of the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope, here are 40 surprising facts about the movie that started it all.