Star Wars is an American
space opera franchise, centered on a
film series created by
George Lucas. It depicts the adventures of various characters "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away".
The franchise began in 1977 with the release of the film
Star Wars (later subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope in 1981),
 which became a worldwide
phenomenon. It was followed by the successful sequels
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and
Return of the Jedi (1983); these three films constitute the original Star Wars trilogy. A prequel trilogy was released between 1999 and 2005, which received mixed reactions from both critics and fans. A
sequel trilogy began in 2015 with the release of
Star Wars: The Force Awakens. All seven films were nominated for
Academy Awards (with wins going to the first two films) and have been commercial successes, with a combined box office revenue of over US$7.5 billion,
 making Star Wars the
third highest-grossing film series.
Spin-off films include the animated
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) and
Rogue One (2016), the latter of which is the first in a planned series of
The series has spawned an extensive
media franchise including
books, television series,
computer and video games, and
comic books, resulting in significant development of the series'
fictional universe. Star Wars also holds a
Guinness World Records title for the "Most successful film merchandising franchise". In 2015, the total value of the Star Wars franchise was estimated at US$42 billion,
 making Star Wars
the second highest-grossing media franchise of all time.
The Walt Disney Company bought
Lucasfilm for US$4.06 billion and earned the distribution rights to all subsequent Star Wars films, beginning with the release of The Force Awakens in 2015.
 The former distributor,
20th Century Fox, retains the physical distribution rights for the first two Star Wars trilogies, owns permanent rights for the original 1977 film and continues to hold the rights for the prequel trilogy and the first two sequels to A New Hope until May 2020.
Walt Disney Studios owns
digital distribution rights to all the Star Wars films, excluding A New Hope.