Star Wars is an American epic space opera franchise, centered on a film series created by George Lucas. It depicts the adventures of characters "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."
The franchise began in 1977 with the release of the film Star Wars, which quickly became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. It was followed by two 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, albeit to mixed reactions from both critics and fans. Another trilogy that continues the story from Return of the Jedi began in 2015 with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The first eight films were nominated for Academy Awards (with wins going to the first two films released) and have been commercial successes, with a combined box office revenue of over US$8.5 billion, making Star Wars the second highest-grossing film series. Spin-off cinematic films include Rogue One (2016) and Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).
The film series has spawned into other media, including books, television shows, computer and video games, theme park attractions and lands, and comic books, resulting in significant development of the series' fictional universe. Star Wars 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, and it is currently the third-highest-grossing media franchise of all time.