Many of us weren't all that surprised in '77 when Stars Wars was such a hit. There had been few science fiction or fantasy movies that captured the public imagination between 2001 and Star Wars.
In fact, science fiction fans who voted for the Hugo Awards didn't even give an award for Best Dramatic Presentation twice during the '70s due to the lack of quality productions. There was a real pent-up audience demand for good science fiction, and Lucas helped to answer that demand with Star Wars.
I saw Star Wars on its original opening day during my honeymoon. I turned 40 while watching the rerelease last weekend. I think the film has probably aged a little better than I have, but it was still a fun ride that our daughter enjoyed as much as we did.
1977 was a watershed year for science fiction movies. Stephen Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind also came out in 1977. Released late in the year, it went head to head against Saturday Night Fever and the disco craze. The blinking lights rising over Devil's Tower were much more memorable to many of us than the blinking lights of the disco floor.
Laurie D. T. Mann