We were watching, reading and boogying to when Star Wars first came out
The Bandit give Han Solo a run for his money. Well, for a week in May of 1977, anyway.
Read to Me
Ah, 1977. Our sideburns were bushing, our bottoms were belling and our collars were flying. In hindsight, 1977 seems like one of those landmark years that delivered a sea change in pop culture. It was the year that punk exploded. On the other end of the spectrum, disco exploded over those twelve months, too, culminating in the release of Saturday Night Fever.
And, of course, there was Star Wars, which ushered in the era of the sci-fi blockbuster — one that continues to this day, really. When the George Lucas film was released on May 25, 1977, few if any saw it as a golden goose. Unlike today, other studios were hardly afraid of going up against it at the box office. In fact, we'll start our survey of '77 pop culture there. Here is what was hot in media that week of May.
Smokey and the Bandit gave the Millennium Falcon a run for its money.
For at least one week, Han Solo was no match for Burt Reynolds. Well, well it came to the bank. Technically. The good time smuggler story Smokey and the Bandit — the first part of an unlikely trilogy itself — was released the same weekend as Star Wars, two days later on May 27. When the cash was tallied on May 30, Smokey came out ahead with $1,728,060 to Lucas' $1,554,475. It should be mentioned that Star Wars was showing on 43 screens while the Bandit was running on 498. I think we know who won in the long run. Additionally, both movies were up for the same Oscar, for Best Editing. Star Wars took that battle as well.
We could feel Stevie Wonder all over.
Stevie Wonder's horn-filled funk blast "Sir Duke" ruled the Billboard charts for three weeks in May. Why don't they make music like this anymore? And we're not just talking about the use of a whistle.
Lenny and Squiggy were the C-3PO and R2-D2 of television.
Just how big was Happy Days in 1977? Coming out of its fourth season, the sitcom had at last reached number one. Fonzie was finally a phenomenon in the show's biggest year. In fact, the tales of Cunningham clan proved to be so successful they spawned a spin-off, Laverne & Shirley, which ranked at number two on the Nielsen charts. If Lenny and Squiggy were akin to the comic-relief droids, than the Fonz was Han Solo, Richie was Luke… Hmm, we could be on to something here.
We were already sequel crazy… even in literature.
Some blame franchises like Star Wars for spurring Hollywood's love affair with sequels. Of course, showbiz had been cranking out sequels since its earliest days. Even in the print world, follow-ups were king. Topping the New York Times bestseller list that week was Erich Segal's Oliver's Story, the sequel novel to Love Story. A cinematic version, with Ryan O'Neal reprising his lead role, would hit theaters in 1978.