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The Force Will Be With You
"Star Wars smashed open the possibilities of what film could actually do,” says Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. "It was the perfect film to inspire a sense of wonder.”

It may seem odd for the director of a film trilogy many compare with Star Wars to go on the record with his love for George Lucas' intergalactic saga. But it's also a testament to the seemingly never-ending appeal of Star Wars. "Darth Vader Lives,” proclaimed a popular button made in 1977 – and it seems he will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of Star Wars fans around the globe for many years to come.

Many films are successful. Many are popular and have become worldwide hits. Few, however, have entered the public consciousness like the Star Wars films. "Jedi” and "the dark side” are listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. For better or worse, politicians and celebrities alike use phrases like "Death Star,” "The Force,” "Evil Empire” and "lightspeed” … and the public instantly understands what they mean. Without doubt, Star Wars remains firmly entrenched in every aspect of our lives:

• In movies, where directors and producers from films as wide-ranging as E.T., American Pie, Toy Story, Austin Powers and Robots love to pay homage to (and poke fun at) the Star Wars films; • On TV, where The Simpsons, The O.C. and Saturday Night Live love to use the Star Wars saga as a common touchstone to elicit smiles; • In sports, where the Boston Red Sox have named their archrival, the New York Yankees, "The Evil Empire” – a moniker the Yankees have gleefully accepted; • In comics, where Star Wars has been a favorite subject of strips ranging from Dennis the Menace and Hi and Lois to Doonesbury and Boondocks, and has been seen in countless editorial cartoons; • At school, where educators use Star Wars every day to teach young people math, science and language, and in museums that draw enormous crowds with Star Wars exhibits; • In theme parks, where Star Tours is a favorite attraction at Disney parks around the world.

The Star Wars universe extends beyond the screen into homes through many different kinds of media. When it was released in November 2004, the Star Wars Trilogy became the bestselling DVD boxed set in history in the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Japan, Australia and many other countries around the world. LEGO experienced unprecedented sales of its Star Wars-based toys, and millions of people every day log on to the Internet to play Star Wars: Galaxies, a massively multiplayer online game. Star Wars video games from LucasArts are remarkably popular, while novels that explore the "expanded universe” of Star Wars routinely make the New York Times' Best Sellers list.

The legacy of Star Wars has also impacted the way movies are made. In order to realize the astonishing visual effects for Star Wars, George Lucas created Industrial Light & Magic. Since then, ILM has received 14 Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects for its work on a wide range of movies and continues to break new ground in the visual effects industry.

Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope was instrumental in improving motion-picture sound technology, popularizing the Dolby noise-reduction sound system and leading to the formation of the THX system and the introduction of digital sound, now commonplace in cinemas.

Lucasfilm Ltd. also pioneered non-linear, digital editing systems that not only blazed new trails for sound and motion-picture editors, but also led to the development of the Avid system, the most popular movie-editing tool in the entertainment industry.

Lucasfilm's storied experiments in computer-generated animation were made possible by the profits from the Star Wars movies and resulted in the creation of the Pixar computer. That, in turn, ultimately led to the formation of what is now the independent and immensely popular Pixar Animation Studios, creator of such movies as Toy Story a


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