1976 Film Studio Memo Calls Unfinished ‘Star Wars’ “Best Picture..Ever Seen”

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star wars a new hope (l-r han solo, leia organa, luke skywalker)

Credit: Lucasfilm

44 years ago, in 1976, Star Wars creator George Lucas had only recently gotten the green light to go ahead with production on the first Star Wars movie after a lengthy search for a studio that was willing to underwrite the space opera.

alec guinness with mark hamill and harrison ford in star wars
Credit: Lucasfilm

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That studio was 20th Century Fox, now owned by The Walt Disney Company and known as 20th Century Studios.

Fox executives had to pull some (illegal) strings to get Star Wars: A New Hope into movie theaters, as theater owners were skeptical of this new science-fiction franchise, but a recently-surfaced 1976 memo proves that within the studio, excitement for the Star Wars universe was palpable.

star wars a new hope luke leia and han (from left)
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Author and documentary filmmaker Charles de Lauzirika shared the following post on Twitter recently:

This is a Fox memo from Nov 1976 alerting those at the studio that their little film called :::checks notes::: STAR WARS might be something worth paying attention to after all. The giddy combo of discovery, excitement and relief here is a joy to behold. h/t@nickjwright

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The first page of the lengthy International Telegram Via ITT from Peter S. Myers reads:

Over the past few months we have been getting reports on Star Wars from various people who have worked o the film, ben associated with a company performing some service for the film or from friends of the producer Gary Kurtz or the director George Lucas. The reports have been so gratuitous that I tended to take them with a grain of salt. At the same time I found our leading and most knowledgable exhibitors terribly interested in the film almost to the extent that it is their #1 choice of the summer pictures.

Alan Ladd, Jr. saw a rough assemblage without music, special effects or dubbing and as conservative a person as he is, he just flipped claiming it is the best picture he has ever seen. In the last few days George Lucas has shown the same rough material to some of the creative people who suggest our ad look and prepare our trailer material, and without any prompting they are having the same reaction.

Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian
Credit: Lucasfilm

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A New Hope, of course, launched Mark Hamill (Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia Organa) to stardom, alongside already well-known actor Harrison Ford (Han Solo) who had worked with Lucas on American Graffiti (1973).

It became the highest-grossing film in history at the time — and set up the success of the other two original trilogy films, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983), which introduced characters like Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) to the Star Wars galaxy.

princess leia and han solo kissing on endor
Credit: Lucasfilm

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If you’d like to catch up on the entire nine-film Skywalker Saga, you can stream it anytime on Disney+.

The official description of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) reads:

Young farm boy Luke Skywalker is thrust into a galaxy of adventure when he intercepts a distress call from the captive Princess Leia. The event launces him on a daring mission to rescue her from the clutches of Darth Vader and the evil Empire. 

What do you think about this seemingly random memo that predicted the wild success of the Star Wars franchise before it even hit theaters over four decades ago?

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