Sure, there'd been Charlie Chaplin toys and Shirley Temple paper dolls. And Walt Disney was a genius at converting a movie into ancillary revenue (the Mickey Mouse watch and Dell's Disney comic books, not to mention the TV shows and theme parks). But when Star Wars became a cultural phenomenon, every kid had to have the action figures, lightsabers, key chains, games, books, pajamas, etc. Lucas all but created the market for collectibles and, in the process, made himself a billionaire. Since 20th Century Fox let him keep the ancillary rights, he got to keep the money they made. He earned more from the spinoffs than from the movies.
The 10 Ways Star Wars Changed the Movie Industry
On the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars TIME film critic Richard Corliss looks at how the groundbreaking film changed everything about the movies