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What It Looked Like to Be a Star Wars Fan in 1977

2 minute read

These days, as The Force Awakens hurdles into theaters, it’s not a mark of distinction to love Star Wars. If you want to stand out, you have to line up days in advance, watch from space or shell out for rare memorabilia. But when the first Star Wars film was released in 1977, the world was stunned by the extent of some people’s devotion, as these news photos from the time show.

And those fans had a major effect on the Hollywood economy. “The price of shares in 20th Century-Fox, the maker of Star Wars, has more than doubled since the film opened in 32 theaters four weeks ago, leading a boom in movie and entertainment stocks generally,” TIME noted that June. “Produced at a cost of $10 million, Star Wars by most estimates will gross $100 million this year alone. Fox, which owns 60% of the picture (Director George Lucas and some partners share the rest) stands to gain $30 million. Add in Fox’s share of cult merchandise already inspired by the film —model spaceships, T shirts, 640,000 sound-track record albums, figurines of the movie’s fantastic characters, such as Artoo-Detoo and Chewbacca—and the company stands to stash away a lot of cash.”

Read TIME’s full Star Wars story from 1977, here in the TIME Vault: The Star Wars Explosion

See Every Star Wars Cover in TIME Magazine History

R2-D2 and BB-8 on the cover of the Dec. 14, 2015 issue of TIME.
R2-D2 and BB-8 on the cover of the Dec. 14, 2015 issue of TIME.Marco Grob for TIME
May 9, 2005
The May 9, 2005, cover of TIMETIME
Apr. 29, 2002
The Apr. 29, 2002, cover of TIMETIME
May 31, 1999
Apr. 26, 1999
The Apr. 26, 1999, cover of TIMETIME
Mar. 17, 1997
The Mar. 17, 1997, Asia edition of TIME Cover Credit: PHOTOGRAPH ©LUCASFILM LTD. ALL RIGHT RESERVED
Feb. 10, 1997
The Feb. 10, 1997, cover of TIMETIME
May 23, 1983
The May 23, 1983, cover of TIMETIME
May 19, 1980
The May 19, 1980, cover of TIMETIME
Feb. 20, 1978
The Feb. 20, 1978, cover of TIMECover Credit: ALAN MAGEE
Children with Wookie from Star Wars 1977
Billy Popovich, 4, left, and Keri Dubowitz, 4 with a Wookiee (John Caruso of Colorado Comics), Sept. 14, 1977.Ernie Leyba—The Denver Post via Getty Images
Linda Cappel with her collection of "Star Wars" memorabilia.
Linda Cappel with her collection of 'Star Wars' memorabilia, Oct. 4, 1977.Bob Koller—NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
Star Wars Toys
On Dec. 21, 1977, Olivia Whiteman of Brooklyn, N.Y., shows two new space age toys available in the toy department of New York's Bloomingdales store. Marty Lederhandler—AP Photo
Star Wars fan Steven Lekowicz 1977
Steven Lekowicz reads on his 'Star Wars' bedspread on Oct. 11, 1977.Glen Martin—The Denver Post via Getty Images
Star Wars Toys 1977
Haik Gazarian, 11, from Caracas, Venezuela, who now lives in New York, tries to cut with a toy "Force Wand," an illuminated toy sword inspired by the film "Stars Wars," during the visit to the toy department store, on Dec. 22, 1977.Marty Lederhandler—AP Photo
Star Wars theater goers in Los Angeles 1977
Theater goers wait in lines in front of the Avco Center Theater in Los Angeles to see "Star Wars," June 7, 1977.AP Photo

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Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com