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Star Wars fans celebrate May the Fourth

Star Wars day includes movie marathon on TV

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It just happened that the signature line of the world's most successful movie franchise also sounds like a date.

Since exploding into the national consciousness in 1977, Star Wars has prompted millions to utter the line, "May the force be with you."

Since 2011, May the Fourth has become the day for Star Wars fans to celebrate every aspect of the films and wider universe that has grown to include everything from animated television shows to video games to kitchenware. Since Disney's purchase of the Star Wars franchise in 2013, the celebration has become an "official" annual observance.

This year for May the Fourth, scores of retailers are offering discounts on Star Wars items. Star Wars.com features an ever growing list of discounts on officially licensed Star Wars items for May the Fourth.

While some devoted Star Wars fans can be seen wearing clothing celebrating the franchise year round, even some casual fans will don a Millennium Falcon t-shirt or rebel insignia cuff links to show solidarity with fellow Star Wars fans.

One of the earliest known records of “May the 4th” used in popular culture dates back to 1979. Author Alan Arnold wrote, while he was chronicling the making of The Empire Strikes Back for Lucasfilm:

“Margaret Thatcher has won the election and become Britain’s first woman prime minister. To celebrate their victory her party took a half page of advertising space in the London Evening News. This message, referring to the day of victory, was ‘May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations,’ further proof of the extent to which Star Wars has influenced us all.”

On television, TBS will air the first six Star Wars movies in a marathon, from Episode I: The Phantom Menace, starting at 6:40 a.m. thru Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, which starts at 8:15 p.m. Some devotees will argue that the proper order in which to enjoy the films is the order in which they were released. With the recent additions of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and the first "Star Wars Story," Rogue One, others would suggest that, by the time the yet-to-be-released Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, and the untitled Episode IX are completed, the enitre experience may be recalibrated to begin with Rogue One. 

There is a Han Solo movie in the works. There have also been rumors of Boba Fett film, although that has not been confirmed by Disney.

Interestingly, the first character to utter the phrase "May the force be with you" on screen was not Luke Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi, but a lesser known character named General Dodanna, who wished pilots from the rebellion well as they prepared to attack the Empire's giant space station, the Death Star during the climax of the original 1977 Star Wars, later titled Star Wars: A New Hope. After Dodanna's statement, Han Solo said the line before Luke climbed aboard his X-wing fighter en route to sending a pair of proton torpedoes down an exhaust port that sent off a chain reaction, destroying the planet killing space station, which was, in fact, no moon.