December 27, 1977: Star Wars arrives in the UK – heralded by a wave of hype

The eagerly-awaited 'space opera' finally opened in UK cinemas shortly after Christmas 1977 – a full seven months after it had captured imaginations and broken box office records in the USA.

On December 27, 1977, the force was finally with British film fans as eagerly-awaited blockbuster Star Wars opened in the UK – more than seven months after it had taken the US by storm.

Eager cinema-goers queued from 7am as the space-based epic – dubbed 'science fantasy' or 'space opera' by its writer and director George Lucas – opened in London's Dominion and Odeon Leicester Square cinemas.

But many of those who queued around the block would not even see the film on its opening day as only a handful of non-reserved tickets were made available for each performance. Those seats that could be reserved had been booked up until March, with touts reportedly selling the £2.20 tickets for as much as £30 – almost half the weekly average wage in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Year.

Cinemagoers queue round the block to see Star Wars

As well as headlines about the film's groundbreaking special effects and record-breaking US box office takings, Star Wars' arrival in the UK had been heralded by an unprecedented promotional campaign. A novelisation of the film and related merchandise including the innovative action figures had hit the shops in time for Christmas and long before the iconic words 'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...' appeared on British screens.

[June 20, 1975: Jaws hits cinemas and the summer movie blockbuster is born]

The film's global success was soon repeated in the UK. In its first seven days, Star Wars took £117,690 in its two London venues, beating the record of £90,000 set by Jaws the previous year. The film opened nationwide at the end of January 1978, and would go on to take almost £300 million worldwide and spawn a cultural phenomenon that continues to this day.

Photo credits: Lucasfilm/Fox/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock, PA Images