If you are alive on this planet you have likely experienced some form of pop culture meme or phrase or have seen a ‘Star Wars’ film. But before May, 1977, many people had no idea what a “Star Wars” was, let alone how impactful it would be.
However, it does appear that some of the people working on the first film, which then was just called “Star Wars” and later “Episode 4” or “A New Hope,” apparently believed it would be the hit it became, months before it even was in theaters.
The proof of this comes in the form of a four page “International Telegram” that has been re-discovered. The original was posted back in 2015 on StarWars.com but originally it came from Fox in 1976.
Recently it was posted to Twitter by Charles de Lauzirika. It allegedly came from 20th Century Fox, Vice President of Domestic Distribution, Peter S. Myers.
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 pic.twitter.com/s6CxDw8EBo
— Charles de Lauzirika (@Lauzirika) June 1, 2021
I’m an old school Star Wars fan from way back, so I love reading anything I can get my hands on about the classic trilogy.
The message is four pages long:
Here’s the transcription:
All Branch Wire
Over the past few months we have been getting reports on Star Wars from various people who have worked on the film, been 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’ve found our leading and most knowledgeable exhibitors terribly interested in the film almost to the extent it’s 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’s 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 and without any prompting they are having the same reaction.
They claim the picture has a look never seen on the screen before and it’s so believable you never feel it is other than the present even though the location and equipment are space in the year 2000 plus.
The best report for me is that it is so realistic and that you really do become involved with and care about all of the characters.
To sum up George Lucas (American Graffiti) has a wonderful idea and Laddie has the foresight and the guts to back him in this very ambitious and expensive production and the gamble paid off because obviously the picture works.
When you relate all of this to the domestic box office potential you have to admit that exceptional entertainment usually pays off, but when it is coupled with a spectacular and innovative presentation the critics, opinion makers and the public will be electrified and it is quite possible Star Wars will emerge as the all time box office champion.
We have an obligation to our company and to ourselves…
To protect this very large investment with the very best theatres, terms and guarantees ever secured.
I’m saying the picture should get better treatment than Godfather, King Kong, Jaws, Poseidon, or Towering Inferno.
We plan to release at 70MM on May 16 or 23 in about a dozen major cities. I would accept additional cities if each could (A) Play on release date (B) Run at least through 7/31 (c) Pay the exceptional terms outlined above and (D) Has 70MM.
You can be very selective as there is no pressure on you to play these extra cities unless all of our conditions are met.
After we set up the May pre-release you should then line up your 6/29 general release dates with much the same patterning and terms as Towering Inferno giving proper clearance to the 70MM engagement.
I don’t want to compromise these selling instructions so please don’t tell me about the competition next summer or that the theatres you want are already booked.
Theatre becomes unbooked when the blockbuster becomes available and I will relieve you of the responsibility ..
For not consummating any deal because you held out for the terms the picture deserves.
I guess you can see I am up in the clouds but I wanted to bring you this good news before you embark on your Thanksgiving holiday and to send you very best wishes from Elsa and myself for a Happy Holiday.
Kindest Personal Regards
Peter S. Myers
If nothing else it’s an exciting look at how things worked back then. Many don’t realize exactly how ground breaking ‘Star Wars’ was when it was released. We just look at it through the lens of time and improvements in film. But it was like nothing ever seen before at it’s release. It’s why so many celebrities and directors were inspired to do what they now do.
When it came out lines were literally wrapped around the block. Although it was rumored the term “block buster” came from ‘Star Wars’ that seems to be debunked by this memo that came before the film. The term was used in the telegram.
Either way, it’s really fun to take a look at this piece of history and see that although it was a hard sell for George Lucas, when others saw the film they had incredible faith it in. They were right to do so.
What do you think? Comment and let us know!
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