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On May 25th, 1977, almost four decades ago, the original Star Wars movie opened in American cinemas.

With its groundbreaking special effects, it won seven Oscars and grossed more than $800 million worldwide. But much more than that, it launched a pop culture phenomenon which still endures and is arguably stronger than ever.

Sequels followed in 1980 and '83, with director George Lucas reviving the franchise in 1999 with the first of three prequels to the original Star Wars story, which was actually 'Episode IV - A New Hope'. Now in the hands of the giant Disney corporation, Star Wars was back again as big as ever with last year's blockbuster, Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens. At least two more films are planned, with filming of Star Wars VIII already under way. 

For devotees, a world without Star Wars is unthinkable. Characters such as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Yoda and Chewbacca are indelibly ingrained in movie history. Lightsabers, Stormtroopers, X-Wing Fighters and, of course, The Force, have all become part of the sci-fi lexicon.

May the 4th has even become an unofficial annual Star Wars Day, parodying the Jedi saying "May the Force be with you".

And if you think Star Wars was just a film, think again. For hundreds of thousands across the world it is a way of life. In the latest 2011 UK Census 176,632 people in England and Wales stated their religion as Jedi, making it the most popular religion in the 'Other Religions' category of the Census!

May the Force be with you.

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