1977: The Force Comes to Us
While hard to fathom now, Star Wars opened in only 32 theaters when it premiered on this day in 1977 and it was rumored that 20th Century Fox didn’t have a lot of faith in the new film. After George Lucas scored a hit with American Graffiti, Fox allowed him to spend $9.5 million for the space epic. It took four years to create the cowboys and Indians tale told in space. By the end of the film’s first week, the movie had made $3 million and by the end of summer it had made over $100 million. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won in six. The movie alone resurrected the idea that science fiction movies could be profitable.
1979: When ‘Alien’ Landed
It was on this day in 1979 when Ridley Scott’s original British-American science-fiction horror film, Alien, opened in theaters and we first learned that “in space no one can hear you scream.” The film starred Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto who all played members of a spaceship that were each taken down one by one by an alien. Besides scaring audiences silly, the film received high praise from critics and received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, three Saturn Awards for Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction for Scott, and Best Supporting Actress for Cartwright, and a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. In 2002, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. It was later followed by Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), Alien: Resurrection (1997), Alien vs. Predator (2004), Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) and two prequels: Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017).
- 1803: Ralph Waldo Emerson (poet)
- 1927: Robert Ludlum (author)
- 1929: Beverly Sills (singer)
- 1939: Dixie Carter (actress)
- 1939: Ian McKellen (actor)
- 1943: Leslie Uggams (actress)
- 1944: Frank Oz (puppeteer)
- 1947: Karen Valentine (actress)
- 1963: Mike Myers (actor)
- 1969: Anne Heche (actress)
- 1972: Octavia Spencer (actress)
- 1994: Aly Raisman (Olympic gymnast)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.