May the Fourth be with you. It’s a play on the mantra of “Star Wars” fans worldwide, replacing the force with May 4. But how did the unofficial holiday come to be and what can fans of the legendary universe expect to see?
StarWars.com says there is “no single point of origin. It has no official commencement year, no formal dedication. It is a grassroots phenomenon that now transcends the English language pun that inspired it.”
The first public mention of “May the 4th Be With You” harkens back to a year after the first “Star Wars” film was released.
Newspaper writers in the U.S. used “May the 4th Be With You” as a gimmick to mark Independence Day. They were inspired by merchandise that became popular after “Star Wars” was released in 1977, StarWars.com said.
Across the pond in the U.K., the phrase was used in 1979 to mark an election that was held days earlier. May the 4th, 1979, was the day that Britain’s new prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. took office. An ad in The London Evening News read “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations!”
At the time, production was underway at Elstree Studios in London on the second installment of the original trilogy, “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” according to the official site for the entire “Star Wars” saga.
Randy Thom, current director of sound design at Skywalker Sound, said he was working on “Return of the Jedi” in northern California’s redwood forest on May 4, 1982. He shared the phrase “May the Fourth Be With You” with other crew members that day.
The studios even used the phrase for marketing the release of “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” printing it on posters with red, white and blue fireworks behind Yoda to help inspire movie theatergoers to see the film on the big screen over the July Fourth holiday.
Over the years, fans started to hold themed parties on May 4, watch the films, or just “evoke laughter (or even an eye-roll) from bemused friends, relatives, colleagues, or even strangers on the street,” according to StarWars.com.
While Lucasfilms can’t take credit for the creation of the unofficial holiday, it — along with parent company Disney— has embraced it. There are now sanctioned celebrations, merchandise (of course) and company announcements that come with the day.
Disney+ dropped the trailer for the upcoming “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series, which will be released on May 27 on the streaming service.
Skywalker Sound also released a trailer of a documentary that goes behind the scenes, highlighting the artists who created the sounds behind the movies.
Even some of the film’s cast members use the days leading up to, and following May 4, to poke fun at the fandom. Mark Hamill posts a pun each day in May.
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