Hollywood, California - George Lucas built a merchandising empire.

“In many ways, Star Wars provided the model for what a contemporary transmedia franchise looks like. A key aspect of that model was the focus on world-building. Star Wars is much more a fictional universe than a simple story: the Star Wars products can tap any niche of that world as the basis for telling a story. Many secondary characters – Boba Fett or Admiral Ackbar, for example –  have grown in the public imagination more through the toys than through anything that happens on the screen.

“The relaunching of Star Wars is not simply a cinematic event but also one that is going to have a ripple effect across all of the other media.” ~ Henry Jenkins

A 40-year legacy that changed the movie business

“The first Star Wars film redefined the contemporary American movie business by achieving record grosses in record time – and it was a movie the studio didn’t place high on its list of priorities. I was at Fox at the time, and I knew it was not an important movie for them until it opened. And when it opened, they were scratching their heads. In the music division, they had a soundtrack that suddenly moved to number one.

“Star Wars redefined the ceiling for box office gross. But more importantly, it was the first movie to really aggressively benefit from what later became typical revenue streams.” ~ Jason Squire is Associate Professor of the Practice of Cinematic Arts at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He’s served as a studio executive at 20th Century Fox, United Artists and Avco Embassy Pictures. He can discuss the life cycle of feature films as well as how the Star Wars series stands apart from similar franchises.