|Star Wars opened on both screens |
at the Gaumont, Bournemouth
In a shorter Episode Nothing post than usual (thank my internet provider for that), I'm taking a look at the 40th anniversary of my own first viewing of Star Wars – and asking you for your memories.
When did you see Star Wars for the first time?
Today, films tend to be released across large parts of the world almost simultaneously. But that wasn't the case back then.
As we saw in this post, only 32 screens showed Star Wars on day one, a Wednesday, and the number rose to only 43 for its first weekend.
The film's release didn't get significantly wider until June 17, and wouldn't reach its peak of 1,044 American screens until August 5.
So for most people, the 40th anniversary of Star Wars didn't happen until significantly later than that May 25 opening.
Star Wars' release dates around the world?
|Star Wars at Mann's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles|
In the 1970s, the expensive business of making prints of films and distributing them around the world took time.
So, the 'opening' date of Star Wars varied widely depending on where you were.
Canada got the film on June 24, 1977. In the Philippines, it came out on August 23. (I'm going by dates listed on IMDB.com, by the way, when I generally prefer primary sources, so please correct me if you can.)
France's Deauville Film Festival had the film in September, but the general release there began on October 19. Italy had the film on October 20, Australia on October 27, and Spain not until November 7 (following a showing at the San Sebastian Film Festival on September 19).
Greece saw the film on November 8, Portugal on December 6, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden on December 15-16, and most of South America on December 23-25.
In the UK and Ireland, the official release date was December 27, although that British opening date only covered two cinemas in the West End of London. As we saw in this post, the rest of the country had to wait a lot longer.
The UK was, however, ahead of Brazil (January 30, 1978) West Germany (February 9), Peru (February 23) South Korea (June 1), Japan (June 30) and India (July 1). By the time the film reached Iceland (July 9) and Iran (July 20), its first re-release was about to begin in the US.
My own Star Wars 40th anniversary
|Star Wars Weekly issue 2|
I've become increasingly obsessed with trying to remember when I first saw Star Wars at the Gaumont in Bournemouth.
It was a Saturday, and at least two issues of Star Wars Weekly had already been published. So my best guess is February 18 or 25, 1978.
The film had only been showing there since February 9, and I remember the wait being agonising, so it's surprising to discover that objectively, it was not that long.
It seems (after consulting with Craig Stevens, author of the forthcoming book The Star Wars Phenomenon in Britain) that Bournemouth may have been the only twin-screen cinema in the country to show the film on both its screens simultaneously. It was the first and last time that happened at the venue.
Craig writes: "I think it's pretty remarkable that the Bournemouth Gaumont managed to obtain two prints of Star Wars when the entire country was screaming for one."
I had a lot of ideas about how Star Wars might look and sound (from Marvel comics, magazine coverage and Meco's disco version of the Star Wars theme, among other sources), but the real experience was nothing like it. For millions of young people around the world, of course, it was a life-changing experience.
I'd be interested to know when and where you first saw Star Wars. What can you recall? Is the venue still standing? Please share in the comments below.