Star Wars Posters - A History of a Galaxy
From 9 films of the Skywalker trilogies, along with 2 spin-offs and an animated film, there are literally 100s of original Star Wars posters from through the last 40 or so years! They of course feature some of the most iconic and recognisable artwork and poster design of all time.
There are many stories, myths and legends about Star Wars posters, and they are certainly some of the most talked about and debated posters in existence.
Beginning in 1976 with the very first teaser posters and original alternative logo, the Hildebrandt brothers illustrated the first test poster for the series – without knowing what Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher looked like! This was of course updated and redesigned by the famous Star Wars poster artist Tom Jung for the first, and possibly the most sought after poster of the series. Released at a similar time was Tom Chantrell’s illustrated design, featuring Han, Luke, and Leia all shooting their blasters. After this, there is the iconic re-release poster with the first artwork from the iconic Drew Struzan in ‘78, and the second re-release in ’79. Many poster designs from the original film are widely disputed to be reproductions, with an infamous lack of GAU logo on the second teaser poster. The “hairy belt” on style A, and “Leia’s back” on style B are said to have come from a hair having fallen during the reproduction printing process.
The Empire Strikes Back
Often described as the greatest sequel of all-time, the Empire Strikes Back completely changed the game of movies at the time, and too for the direction of the Star Wars series. The first (and only) teaser poster for the film set the tone, with the black design featuring only Darth Vader’s helmet teasing the darker mood. The first release promotional poster is now famously known as the “Gone With The Wind” design, from artist Roger Kastel (based on Tom Jung’s design for the Gone With The Wind re-release). This poster wasn’t around for long though, as Billy Dee Williams was left off of the design entirely. It’s said the actor was understandably not best pleased and it was removed from circulation, to be replaced by the more widely produced Tom Jung version, featuring all main characters in the shadow of an angered Darth Vader. What followed were several beautiful alternative releases, including the Noriyoshi Ohrai art, and the Tom Jung ’81 re-release design – a personal favourite of ours.
Return of the Jedi
Drew Struzan’s original poster for the third picture in the trilogy is one of the most desired posters of modern times. The “Revenge of the Jedi” poster was created and sent out in very small numbers before being recalled and the film was renamed to what it is known and loved as today. The belief is that George Lucas couldn’t accept a Jedi believing in revenge being the cause of the late change. Another Star Wars re-release poster came out in ’82 acting as promotion for the Return of the Jedi, followed by the teaser poster with artwork from Tim Reamer. The teaser poster features the brilliant raised lightsaber design, which legend says is actually being held by George Lucas himself. The other 2 posters for the film are the probably most widely recognised Kazo Sano design, and the Tom Jung illustrated ’85 re-release “Return” piece.
Other Notable Releases
The Star Wars 10th anniversary release commissioned by Lucasfilm and drawn by Drew Struzman, understood to never have been sent to cinemas but personally signed by Struzman and sent to select fan club members. The Empire Strikes Back 10th anniversary saw the return of Tom Jung for a much more striking approach, featuring a charging Darth Vader containing the central characters and the Millenium Falcon with a more Pop Art design. Series legend Drew Struzman returned again to illustrate the main releases for the prequel trilogy, with the Phantom Menace poster notable for being the same design to be used in over 60 countries unchanged, completely different to the original trilogy where a different design would generally be used in each territory. The IMAX release with a design from David McMacken for Attack of the Clones is a very popular piece with collectors and fans for its brilliant design and “Size Matters Not” banner on the top. The posters for the latest trilogy move away from the hand drawn design and more into the photographic, maintaining the iconic composition of the original films, a call back to vintage Golden Age Hollywood.
Star Wars posters have an incredible history and some brilliant stories to match! Between these and the other 100s of original designs I haven’t mentioned, there is an enormous different in availability, and usually this is the driving factor for the gulf in value across designs. If you’d like any more information, have any questions, or would like us to source a specific design from through the series, please just get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, feel free to browse our selection from the series here on the site.