Thirty-nine years ago in a galaxy not so far, far away, "Star Wars" was released in theaters. The film, later titled "Episode IV - A New Hope," spawned a franchise and a following of astronomical proportions. Recently, Chewbacca Mom made Facebook Live an actual thing with her record-breaking video that racked up 140 million views in three days, but that's nothing compared to the whole of "Star Wars" legacy.
The most recent "Star Wars" film, "The Force Awakens," broke box-office records, pulling in $936 million domestically and more than $2 billion in ticket sales worldwide. What's more, the combined lifetime domestic gross of all eight "Star Wars" movies also exceeds $3.2 billion.
But box-office revenue is just the tip of the iceberg. Fan loyalty is worth its weight in gold to Disney. Forbes estimates that the "Star Wars" franchise has earned over $12 billion from toys and other merchandise, $3.4 billion from games and over $1.8 billion from book sales.
In short, George Lucas and Disney/Lucasfilm are flush.
The franchise's following is so massive that it is unrealistic to accurately estimate the number of Jedi wannabes on this earth. That said, "Star Wars" box-office records are a strong indication that everyone worth knowing loves "Star Wars" the force is strong among millions of fans.
Even if you're on the dark side ("I find your lack of faith disturbing"), you can't deny the film's impact on this earth. The space saga has its own Wookieepedia (when it was launched in 2005, that was a big deal), a Death Star in Dubai, and many more things in its honor. Hell, "Star Wars" has it's own beetle species. Without George Lucas, there would be no drunk stormtroopers or "Star Wars" weddings.
"Star Wars: Episode VIII" hits theaters Dec. 15, 2017 and will almost certainly break more records and lead to stranger merchandise and themed weddings. To quote Obi-Wan Kenobi, the force will be with us always.