Long ago in a galaxy far, far away -- or actually a time far, far away -- Star Wars opened to the masses. On May 25, 1977 the film that critics believed was going to be the biggest flop ever opened in theaters. 39 years later, the Star Wars saga continues.

The history of a franchise

By now, every red-blooded American is familiar with the Star Wars franchise. Since 1977, fans have been bombarded with merchandise like lunch boxes, action figures, and cereal boxes, all with the Star Wars name. They have been introduced to characters that have become iconic like Hans Solo (Harrison Ford), Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).

Currently, the franchise has spawned six sequels and is anticipating two more films in the works. If you are under 40, then you literally don't know what life was like before Star Wars and if you are over 40, then you've had a chance to appreciate the complicated story of the films and the characters throughout the years. 

Not many films can stand the test of time, much less spawn countless spinoffs and reboots, adding to an enduring lexicon that is as storied as a family tree. Still, this space franchise has managed to accomplish just that. Helmed by writer and director George Lucas, the original Star Wars was a space oddity that featured puppets and grown men in full costume. What critics thought was going to be a kiddie film turned out to be a blockbuster.

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In fact even Lucas thought the film would flop. He reportedly hopped a flight to Hawaii to meet with fellow director Steven Spielberg on opening day. There, the two came up with the idea for the first film in the Indiana Jones trilogy, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The interesting thing is that Lucas was business savvy enough to ask for 40% of the merchandising rights and a salary of $175,000, but he was worried that the film would tank. It would go on to sell 178 million tickets and the merchandise became a collectors item, which made Lucas a millionaire.

A little known easter egg

Speaking of merchandise, there's an interesting Star Wars connection in another story. In 1986, Hamill, who was already famous after the releases of the first Star Wars trilogy, starred in an episode of Amazing Stories. It was a Twilight Zone-esque show where improbable things happened to characters, but usually had a happy ending.

Hamill starred in the Gather Ye Acorns episode as the lazy Jonathan who wanted to spend all of his time collecting comic books. When an encounter with a troll predicts that he will be rich, Jonathan moves out of his parents home and becomes a homeless drifter that collects trinkets along the way. When he reaches middle age, he encounters the troll again and blasts him for his prophecy, but the confident troll is unmoved. Years later, when Jonathan is an old man, he comes across a collector. He spots Jonathan's trinkets and agrees to buy some for thousands of dollars. This gives Jonathan an idea and he auctions off everything in his collection. In the end, he's a millionaire, as predicted. Not only was this a fun story and an interesting turn of events, its totally connected to all of Lucas' merchandising rights, which still profit the director to this day. For more on the story, view the video below: